Daily Opinion: We Still Haven’t Figured Out the Difference between Race and Class

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For all “intensive purposes”…

Don’t you just hate that?

… My Facebook feed has been chock full of social awareness lately. This is coming from the guy who was pissed off at all the selfies and baby pictures everyone seemed to be posting just a few months ago. What changed? Well, a little thing called Ferguson happened. Sure, Eric Garner was choked to death before that, but the nation reacted to the Mike Brown shooting for one reason or another. My feed started to change, but nothing crazy.

Then Darren Wilson was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Ferguson case. My Facebook feed went from a simmer to a boil. The natives were restless.

Now? Daniel Pantaleo, the cop responsible for killing an unarmed Eric Garner with an illegal choke hold, was not indicted either.

KABOOM! I logged onto Facebook last night and there was post after post about justice (or lack thereof, depending on your POV), police brutality, and, of course, racism.

The dreaded R-word. Does anyone really like that word? It’s like the word ‘moist.’

Ew.

Anyway, I like the fact that people woke up and some attention is being paid to what’s going around us. Kudos. But here’s the thing: there’s a lot of shouting and no one’s talking about what’s really going on.

You see, racism isn’t new to America. It’s certainly not new to humanity as a whole. If I didn’t know better I’d think it’s a gene in our DNA, because we haven’t figured out racism, but we figured out how to LAND ON A COMET. But here’s the rub: as silly humans tend to do, we started confusing classism with racism because the latter is so closely tied to the former.

Early Americans had slaves; it’s a fact. After slavery was abolished, former slaves weren’t given a severance package or anything like that. Therefore, they congregated and created communities with less wealth. There was a LONG time between the abolishment of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. More immigrants came to America and some prominent cities and towns experience ‘White flight,’ a phenomenon where established White folks pick up and leave an area when things get a bit too ethnic. Jews and Italians experienced this as well, but at least they could change their names in order to blend in all chameleon-like.

Property value dropped.

Businesses fled to follow the money.

New industries weren’t introduced.

Poverty (or at least less money) began being associated with race.

It didn’t end there. Where you have poverty, you have crime. But instead of people looking at these communities and saying, man, these people have had GENERATIONS of this crap with which to contend, we divide ourselves into three camps. Camp #1 thinks all these niggers and spics (and miscellaneous) are all criminal no-gooders who are hellbent on destroying their own communities. Camp #2 just thinks White people are all racist and their race alone is worth a damn in this conversation of equal rights. Camp #3 is far more moderate, but many of them don’t give a damn enough about racism to make any noise. They’re content with their lot in life and don’t feel a pressing need to rock the boat.

There’s one more group of people. These people see the way this all happened and how race and class are often intertwined. Of course racism exists, but you better believe there are much fewer Mike Browns in more affluent communities that have Black members. The cops aren’t choking them out. Also, don’t you think poor White people get it from cops too?

Discrimination is discrimination. We do it so often that one type bleeds into the next. How sad is this? We’re carrying on the idiot notions of people who died long ago and many of us don’t know why. We don’t even care enough to realize poor communities have EVERYTHING going against them. Prosecuting a single cop is a bandage. Our real issue is we don’t know how to NOT discriminate. We’re too good at it. We’re so good, some people are alright disliking a certain group of people, but wouldn’t call themselves a bigot.

I had this conversation with a Salvadorian in reference to Mexicans. I kid you not.

There is sure to be someone telling me I’m wrong. Fine. Disagree with me. My opinion isn’t important here. But let’s take a look at America and recognize the fact that we have only scratched the surface of actually fulfilling the promise of “liberty and justice for all.” Because those words have been bullshit for a long time, and it certainly isn’t just based on race. Look at the history. Trace the steps. Why can’t we get past this?

I don’t have the answers, but I do know we all play a part in this nonsense continuing. Otherwise it wouldn’t exist.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Oh, So Now They’re Hating on Brothas in a Galaxy Far, Far Away, Huh?

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