Tarot Daily Dot Decoder, September 6, 2014

black and white cats

Today’s Tarot is inspired by a post on Daily Kos byHammerOfDog, whose roomate shared a video of a Black man exhorting Black people to just get over racism. I kind of wish we all could, but as long as white people continue to leave our own unacknowledged affirmative action program in place and as long as we continue the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich there will be inequality. Of course individuals are responsible for making our own destinies, but no one goes it alone. Denying that social conditions affect our prospects is a kind of wishful thinking that goes back to Horatio Alger.

I’m thinking about this lately because of a book by Taleeb Starkes called, ‘Blacks vs Ni—rs’. He is described on Amazon.com as a ‘race realist’. A member of my family posted on Facebook that his megachurch has invited Starkes to give a speech.

I’m a white New Englander married to a Black Southerner so we have interesting conversations. I can say as a white person that ‘white’ registers as racially neutral in the lizard part of my brain, where other races are noticed. The effect is that bad stuff done by white people is bad stuff. Bad stuff done by others is ‘those people doing bad stuff’. I think we are hard-wired to discriminate, but institutionalized racism is a political construct and can be dismantled politically without needing to try to change human nature. Also, we as Americans really do want to create a land of fairness and opportunity, and I hope we never stop striving for that.

HammerOfDog questions what might have happened if the victims of the Triangle Trade had come here as immigrants instead of kidnapped prisoners. This is answered with the current wave of African immigration. Liberian refugees have gravitated to health care in my city of Providence, and they are an important part of the work force, also among the people I serve.

When I think of the ‘problem children’ I encounter as a nurse I see faces Black, white, Cambodian, Russian, Cuban– some immigrants, some long-time Yankees. I don’t know why they so often resist doing the right thing and act in self-defeating ways, but they share some commonalities. Catastrophic physical illness, PTSD, lack of opportunity for education early in life, victimization by criminals, abandonment by the supports the middle class takes for granted, poverty, more access to liquor and cigarettes than groceries, predation by payday loans and check-cashing, get-rich-quick schemes and blood-sucking religions. Diabetes is a raging epidemic, no one knows why, and it afflicts the poor more than the rich.

It’s my job to promote personal responsibility and empowerment, and positive thinking has its place, but exhorting the people who are getting the bad end of a rigged system without recognizing that the system is rigged is like Job’s friends- self-righteously ragging on the poor guy when he was just a pawn in a bet between deities. Even God was annoyed with that.

Thanks to Signs of Life photo gallery for the cat pix.

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