From: L. Michael Hall
2021 Neurons #39
July 2, 2021
Can Save Politics #4
NO SYSTEM CAN BE RACIST
Given that politics requires good ideas, then if we operate from bad ideas then politics will suffer. Obviously, this means it’s essential that we make sure that we operate with, and from, good ideas— even great ideas. Now today there’s a really bad idea floating around, an idea that is actually toxic and completely dysfunctional for political well-being and health. It is the idea of “systemic racism.”
Previously I have written that here is a term (‘race’) that has no reference. It is actually a pseudo-word. Because there is only one race on Planet Earth, the human race, and there’s no such things as multiple races, then there is no thing about being prejudiced against other “races.” What we’re usually talking about are people from different families of the human family, and if we would use that terminology instead of “race,” we would find it easier to have a friendly and more compassionate attitude toward those who are part of the human family. (Neurons #13, March 29, 2021).
Now to be “racist” is to be prejudged against certain people that you have come to dislike. There could be a reason for the dislike (e.g., mistreatment), although such dislike and prejudice is usually taught. What is this experience and state of “racism?” It is a personal human thought that is an attitude and an emotion. It is a psychological state wherein one person takes an oppositional stance against other people. Coming from inside a person, it is then what a person does. Inside the person develops a negative attitude and outside the person insults or talks disrespectfully. Worse yet, the person becomes externally physically abusive, tries to harm the others, sets up conditions so that it disadvantages the other person.
But what if you have is an entity such as an organization, you do not have a real person. It does not think or feel. It does not have a brain to think or a body to emote. It is a legal entity. It exists on paper and the articles of incorporation which describe how people come together for some purpose or business. As a legal entity it does not eat or breath; it does not love or hate. It is a construct of law that lawyers, politicians, and tax accountants invent to tax. In this, it cannot be “racist.” This is why the phrase “systemic racist” is non-sense.
Yes, an organization can have unjust rules. It can have laws that favor some people over others and privilege some over others, or put some at a disadvantage. If that is what we’re referring to, then what we have is not “systemic racism,” we have bad ideas in the legal paperwork and organization structure. That is not “racist” thinking-and-feeling, that is a policy, a set of rules. And it can be changed, and should be changed.
You may be wondering, as I did, why would anyone invent this different kind of racism? For what purpose? The answer is simple— the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s succeeded! By the 1990s and 2000s, old type “racism” was pretty much done and over with. The largest majority of people in the USA had moved on and King’s idea of a colorless society was beginning to emerge. A great manifestation of that was the election of our first Black President? And he was elected twice. With the idea of equality spreading throughout the country, with the idea of judging people “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” —the focus shifted from Affirmative Action to education, training, development, personal responsibility, competency, meritocracy, etc. All good stuff.
That’s when some on the left decided that they needed a new “racism” to fight. Since people of color from all ethnic groups were being elected to every position possible in politics and succeeding in the marketplace in every possible industry, it was obvious that the old “racism” was slowly but surely dying out. Therefore having nothing to protest, they needed something new, so they invented “systemic racism.” They invented critical race theory which announced, “racism is everywhere and it is permanent.”
This explains why is it a very bad idea— it is presented as everywhere and forever. If that’s the case, then you cannot solve it. Ah, now you have an invisible enemy to fight. It is an enemy you cannot see, hear, or feel— its incorporated into the hidden assumptions of the organization. Because it is everywhere and forever— it can never be solved as actual racism was solved. There are also many more reasons why “systemic racism” is a terrible idea — which I’ll present in the next post.