It’s astonishing that this conversation needs to happen in 2014.
So, Dave Nappi woke up one day and decided that racism, just, isn’t a thing anymore. Leaving the lessons of history aside (colonialism, slavery, internment camps, the Bracero program, Jim Crow, moving the border of Texas, immigration quotas) Nappi decided that they just didn’t matter. Or, perhaps, he thought that because they were found in history books, that they were merely historical relics, no longer relevant to modern America.
Unfortunately, people like Nappi think that just because they don’t witness something personally, that it doesn’t exist. This is the same faulty reasoning used by creationists and climate change deniers. Forget that decades of research has found racism to be ubiquitous to how our society is structured. Because Nappi doesn’t feel white privilege, he thinks it must not exist. However, white privilege does not mean that people suck your dick for free for being white (that only happens on Grindr). It means that all of society is structured in such a way that your entire life trajectory has had a benefit in part because you are white.
The irony that eludes Nappi is that only a white person could write that racism doesn’t exist without a hint of sarcasm, reinforcing the very privilege that he denies exists. Even this response that I have written, is an example of white privilege. As a white person, I can point out that racism exists without having an “agenda” or being “biased.” Imagine that a black woman were to point out racism. She would quickly be attacked and demonized. Actually, we don’t have to imagine.
While a quick Google search would provide thousands of examples of racism and white privilege, Nappi needs evidence. Objectivity! Empiricism! Rationality! In Nappi’s world, social scientists exhibit none of these qualities in their research. As anyone who stayed awake in college knows, this is woefully inaccurate. Regardless, I am doubtful that showing evidence of racism and white privilege will change
Nappi’s view, as he seems so hell-bent on remaining ignorant. Instead, I will draw some examples, for you, the reader, in case you ever come across someone as ignorant as Nappi and need some quick facts to pull up. (Keep in mind that these are facts that in addition to be racialized, are also classed, gendered, sexualized, etc.).
1. Education: Blacks and Latinos are far more likely to be suspended and punished in schools than whites, even though they don’t act out more. White schools also receive more funding than high-minority schools.
2. Criminal Justice: Blacks are much more likely than whites to be arrested for drug possession, despite similar drug use rates to whites, and blacks and latinos are much more likely than whites to be “stopped and frisked.”
4. Housing: People of color are much more likely to be homeless and more likely to live in poverty.
5. Employment: Whites are more likely to be employed and make more money than blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans.
6. Media: Whites are more positively represented in media, while people of color are often negatively stereotyped.
7. Transportation: Whites have better access to public transportation, which has ramifications on employment and housing opportunities.
8. Politics: Voter restriction laws disproportionately affect people of color, quelling their already diminished political voice.
If this is not evidence, I’m not sure what is.
The evidence for racism is compelling, and the effects on society are staggering. Racism is as much a part of our American history as our American present. Unfortunately, racism is an inconvenient truth that does not fit neatly with our American dream of a meritocracy. Just as the physical scientists have examined climate change and the life scientists have examined evolution, social scientists have examined inequality, both racial and otherwise. To deny any of these truths is of the same intellectual cowardice. And guess what: not liking something doesn’t make it go away. Dave Nappi and his ilk can choose to deny reality and preserve their privilege. Or, they can humbly accept that they are wrong, and join us in the fight for racial justice.