Thursday, March 7, 2013

Adam Carolla: What's wrong with you Black people

Some (many?) conservatives seem to think that black people are naturally inferior. Now except on the fringes you probably won't find this expressed in the traditional "I hate n*****s. I won't hire them, work with them, live with them or marry them. This is a white (wo)man's country, dammit!!". Although the election of President Obama seems to have brought some of that closer to the surface, it's still I think, somewhat of a minority view, pardon the pun.

But what's not really a minority view is the idea that there's something wrong with black people, that they aren't quite on a par with white people.  We saw a fictional take on this in Django Unchained. Some people couch this in points about culture while others claim that there is real measurable important biological diversity among humans and that black people just happen to have gotten the short end of the stick as far as intelligence is concerned. This is diffused throughout the larger community, really throughout the entire American society. Comedian and commentator Adam Carolla recently gave voice to this view point.
"I want everyone to plan. Look down the road six months," said Carolla. "Yes they foreclosed on your home. That's why you need to have a network, a community, friends, family members, money put away. Don't have the kids."
"Think about it, Adam," challenged Newsom. "Half of African Americans in the state of California, and roughly half of Latino families, have no access to a checking account or an ATM."
And that's when things got hairy.
"What's wrong with them?" asked Carolla. "I want to know why those two groups don't have access. Are they flawed?"
"I want to know why [Blacks and Latinos] are struggling," Carolla continued. "Do Asians have this problem? Why do so many [Blacks and Latinos]? Blacks have been here longer than we have. What about Asians--they were put in internment camps. Are they at the check cashing places?"
"How about the Jews?" asked Carolla. "No problems in the past? Whose had it worse? Why are the Jews doing well? [...] Why do some groups do so much better? I'll tell you why: They have a family who puts an emphasis on education.

Unwilling immigrant
Carolla's questions fit in neatly with the idea that modern racism is minor or non-existent and that any problems black people have are almost entirely their own fault. It also raises the idea that blacks have less ability to plan for the future, think with their genitals and can't be trusted with money. Unsurprisingly these are the same stereotypes which were used to justify the enslavement and segregation of black people.

Of course to support this idea it's critically important not to discuss the experiences of a wider number of black people. You can't talk about "faulty family structure" when you're discussing situations like black mid level corporate managers who repeatedly find themselves training white co-workers who swiftly surpass them, black youth who are stopped by (and threatened, assaulted or insulted by) the NYPD more than white youth but have fewer guns or drugs found on them, black authors or musicians who can't get cover stories or reviews in white media, black accountants who discover they're paid less than someone white with less education or experience or my personal favorite, black job seekers who discover they have less of a chance of getting a job than someone white with a felony or who learn that their resume was rejected immediately because their name or zip code indicated probable African ancestry. Those things are real and are all going on today. And if anything black parents put more emphasis on education than white parents do simply because they hope that education can protect their children from some of the worst instances of racism in the labor market. This isn't always the case of course.

Although the issues of the so-called underclass , future time orientation, out of wedlock births, conflict resolution, etc are well known and important to solve, they are not the only problems facing the larger black community. I have no problem talking about financial mismanagement or other items which are in an individual's power to change. But there's more to life than that. Carolla seeks to pose as a truthteller when in fact he's just a bully punching down. Where is the oh so brave iconoclast who looks at the past 600 years and asks "What's wrong with white people?". Well chances are he or she won't get mainstream media access, unless it's to make someone else repudiate, denounce and renounce them.

 I'm not part of any "underclass" and I've still seen or experienced real racism, whether it's couched in the coldly polite passive-aggressive corporate style or the direct and dangerous "Why are you in this neighborhood show me your hands" flavor that police tend to prefer. 
As other people have pointed out, if you've been traumatized in some way as a child there's a slightly better than average chance that you're going to have problems as an adult. If you're been assaulted or raped it might be a long time (if ever) before you are as trusting of people as you previously were. If every time you stepped out of the house someone whacked you in the head with a shovel, you might become more fearful than other people of trying or doing new things. If you, deep in your heart of hearts, are convinced that God doesn't look like you but looks like some other group of people, how can you ever get right? 

I've said it before, here and on other forums. And I'm not the only one who's said it. But Black Americans only became legally full citizens post 1965 or so. It's not quite within my lifetime but it's pretty close. For the majority of this country's existence, black people were either slaves or non-people. White people could and did remove or prevent Black people from competing with them. Whether this was done by law (mostly in the South) or custom (more likely in the North) the impact was to retard accumulation of wealth and social resources. And violence or the threat of violence always played a part as well.

So there is no real comparison to be made with other immigrant groups, whether they be Italian, like Carolla's, or Jewish or Asian or any other group. None of them went through what black people in America experienced. None of them had their cultures stolen and mental framework destroyed. Basically what Carolla is saying is that he thinks Black people are inferior. He thinks that other groups could go through what blacks went through and come out better off. Well. I say that that question can't be answered unless we (literally) give black people the whip hand for 400 years and see how whites turn out. Let's make whites worship a Jesus that looks just like Isaac Hayes and see if they have any issues with self-hatred after a few centuries. I think that if this country were majority black and had been for ages, we very might see a Johnny-come-lately descendant of black immigrants making snide comments about what was wrong with the descendants of white slaves, while being totally clueless about his own privileges.

It seems like the new thing is to figuratively tear someone's ACL, slit their Achilles tendon, smash their big toe and then sneer at them for not being to run as fast as you.


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