Written elsewhere by me in 2013, and reposted because I see no reason to reinvent the wheel. I wouldn’t say that I generally concentrate on race in my posts but response to my last post , “Race Question from 1969,” leads me to conclude that this would be a good addition to the current conversation.
In 1943, a Nazi officer walks through a labor camp chewing on a hunk of bread. He sees a group of emaciated Jews staring at him through a fence. So, on impulse, he tosses his piece of bread over the fence and they fight over it. "Those Jews are such animals," he thinks.
However, being a fair-minded guy, he wants to make sure he's not generalizing, so he decides to run an experiment. He visits a string of labor camps in Germany and Poland and, at each one, he throws a piece of bread to the inmates. In all cases, they fight over the bread.
When he goes to enough camps, he can conclude with a clear conscience that Jews are indeed animals.
Welcome to being Black in America. Racism is pretty much built on this model.
What's wrong with the officer's conclusion? After all, he conscientiously replicated his results. Well, if he'd gotten on a U-boat, slipped past American maritime security, been delivered to Long Island (this actually happened once during the War), gotten himself to a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, found a group of Jews outdoors (perhaps in a public park) and thrown a hunk of bread in their direction,some little kid would have said: "Look, Mommy, that blond man is feeding the pidgeons!"
What we see here is a lot of people being blamed for the consequences of externally controlled variables. If you abuse people intensely enough for long enough, you get consequences. Blaming the victims of these consequences for being victims is disingenuous at best, highly hypocritical at worst. There are people who will get past those consequences, actually a lot of people, but it takes extra effort to get past them, effort that the majority of the population not only doesn't have to put out but that the majority of the population finds mostly invisible.
When I originally published this, a Black friend responding to this post talked about how his overcoming such obstacles led to his encountering resentment and even hatred (from Whites). My response to him was:
“They partially resent you for having done so, not having a remote clue as to exactly what you've done, and they really resent what little help you've gotten and attribute everything you've achieved to that help. That one foot boost you got to scale that eight foot wall really shows how incapable you are (given that the rest of us had no wall in our path).”