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Elections and race: 2014 indicates voters have changed more than you might think

Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Mia Love

Some of last November’s election results and statistics are very telling for our understanding of current racial relations in America. So let’s take a look at a few of them.

In South Carolina, Tim Scott was overwhelmingly elected to the U.S. Senate by more than 60 percent of the voters. As always, whites were voting in higher numbers than others and older whites were voting in higher numbers still. What is noteworthy here is that Scott is the first black Republican to win a South Carolina Senate seat since the Reconstruction (in fact, he is the first in the entire South, not just South Carolina). But what is even more significant (and barely reported) is that 74 percent of the white voters voted for him rather than his white opponent. And whites who voted against Scott voted for the Democratic candidate.

Of course, South Carolina is one of the states that were fully covered under the special provisions of the Voting Act of 1965. Those provisions required that all covered jurisdictions get a federal government clearance on all changes to election laws with the justification that racism was historically strong in those places and minorities there needed additional protection from Washington, D.C. When the Supreme Court struck down this provision in 2013 (noting huge progress in racial relations), Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would be doing everything to watch those states and prevent discrimination there. He followed that promise and has sued several states challenging their voting laws. But should he?

The voting result in this year’s election in South Carolina clearly shows that the majority of white people did not take race into consideration when it came to voting (and, therefore, most likely, to anything else important in their lives). Even in the Southern states and among older white voters, who were always considered the most racist, it still holds true (as if the election and re-election of a black president was not enough to prove that), so there is no hidden racism here.

Mia Love in Utah

Another notable voting result is the election of Mia Love, who is black, to the U.S. House of Representatives. It is remarkable that she won in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, which is located in the heart of the state and is one of the most reliably Republican. Utah is a mostly white state with a black population of just about 1 percent. In addition to being black, Love is also the daughter of the immigrants, making her win a first in many aspects. And again, she easily won the race. So much for anti-black, anti-women, anti-immigrant Republicans!

And the two Republican victories mentioned above are not the only ones – for example, Will Hurd won in a southern Texas Congressional District.

So what does it tell us? First, it indicates that racism is mostly a thing of the past and people vote based on the real issues (or possibly, ideology) but not on the candidates’ skin color. People trust a person of a different race perfectly well to represent them in government. Second, Republicans are not any more racist as a group than any other party and accusations that they fight Obama because if his race rather than his policies are baseless. Third, gerrymandering and voter ID laws, again, have nothing to do with racism or discrimination, as many contend, and, instead, are purely political. So even if some of those things are wrong, it is not because they are discriminatory and therefore there is nothing for the Justice Department to do there.

I hate emphasizing the race of all of the above Republican winners – I do not care what color a person’s skin is as long as he or she is honest, smart, and hardworking. But Democrats keep bringing race into politics all the time and always point out the lack of diversity among Republicans as a proof of their racist nature. As the 2014 election results indicate, it is not Republicans’ racism but minorities’ devotion (based mostly on Democrat’s propaganda) to the Democratic Party that results in few minority Republican candidates.

A nonissue in Brazil’s elections

Here is one more related fact. I am not sure that many people noticed, but Brazil elected a president last October. One of the leading candidates in those elections, Marina Silva, is a black woman but, surprisingly to Americans, her race was a non-issue during the election, both before and after she lost: Neither she nor her opponents were bringing the issue up. For those who don’t know, Brazil imported more slaves than America and was the last country to abolish slavery; blacks still lag behind there in education and income. And yet, race was not an issue during the election there, which, I am sure, allowed people to concentrate on the country’s problems rather than on the color of people’s skin.

People like to refer to “living in the 21st century,” meaning that many things as we know them are (or are supposed to be) things of the past. Mentioning race everywhere as an important factor and looking for, and accusing people of, racism should also become the thing of the past – America is beyond playing the racial card. As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, let’s judge people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character (and of course their actions). We will all win when it happens.

Ilya Gutman is an immigrant from the Soviet Union who now lives and works in Marshall, Minnesota. 

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Comments (37)

  1. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/09/2015 - 04:17 pm.

    First off, racism is not ‘mostly a thing of the past’ to anyone who was paying attention, or even turned on a TV, in 2014. Or who has ever spoken to a person of color about it.

    Approximately 12%-13% of the American population is African-American, but they make up 40% of the almost 2.1 million male inmates in jail or prison. African Americans constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population, and have nearly six times the rate of whites incarcerated. Those statistics alone refute your argument that racism is ‘mostly a thing of the past,’ unless you believe that African Americans are somehow intrinsically more likely to be arrested than whites, which would itself be insanely racist.

    Broadly, Democrats are still vastly more diverse than Republicans, even if two black Republicans just got elected. For instance… between 1971 to the present, there have been 6 African-American republicans elected to congress. In the same time period, there have have been roughly 110 african american democrats elected to congress (and I’m not including any black dems elected in 2014). Granted, that’s only 1 segment of the minority population, but there is still a huge discrepancy in representation from one party to the other.

  2. Submitted by Erin Maye on 01/09/2015 - 04:43 pm.

    Racism is not “mostly a thing of the past”

    Jonathan Ecklund has succinctly said anything I intended to say. I will elaborate and say that showy racism has been replaced by systemic racism that has wide reaching repercussions. If we look to the election of 2 black Republicans to the U.S. Congress as an indicator of the end of racism, we could effectively say that racism ended in 1870, with the election of Joseph Rainey.

  3. Submitted by Joe Musich on 01/09/2015 - 08:21 pm.

    Here we go ….

    again with nonsense. Two elected officials do not by any means change all the rest of the statistics.

  4. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/10/2015 - 10:48 am.

    Post-racial America

    I’d like to believe Mr. Gutman’s point that we live in a “post-racial” America and we should move on to considering candidates character and the issues in elections. In fact, I’m quite sure many of Mr. Gutman’s fellow Republicans believe or would like to believe this is true and that it’s those durn Democrats who keep bringing the issue up again and again to “play the race card” as she puts it:

    “But Democrats keep bringing race into politics all the time and always point out the lack of diversity among Republicans as a proof of their racist nature.”

    As a citizen of the former Soviet Union, I’m sure Mr. Gutman is familiar with the phrase “party line.” Perhaps what Mr. Gutman does not know is that for many years the United States followed its own “party line” about race and racial relations. One part of this “party line” was that the civil rights movement, lead by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King was a Communist, Soviet agent who was among a host of “outside agitators” fomenting racial unrest in the South during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The NAACP was a suspected Soviet “front organization” that organized blacks to oppose the dominant Democratic (i.e. Dixiecratic”) establishment of the South. One reason Republicans, white or black, could not get elected to seats in places like South Carolina was because of the profound antagonism toward the party of Lincoln after the Civil War- the party that impeached Democrat Andrew Johnson because he refused to impose the deservedly harsher sanctions authorized by a Republican Congress against the rebel states after the War.

    Southern Democrats like Strom Thurmond and James Eastland and others might well have been reactionary Republicans during their tenure. These individuals used the filibuster to oppose antilynching bills during the 1950’s and 1960’s. It took an LBJ, with his clout as a fellow Dixiecrat to get legislation like the Voting Rights Act passed in our reactionary Congress. Richard Nixon saw the opportunity to turn the latent racial tensions in the South to his electoral advantage through his “Southern Strategy”. (Read Nixon’s aid Kevin Phillipps on this if you think I’m making this up). Ever since, the Republican Party has “played the race card” subtly through message in campaigns, like the “Willie Horton” campaign ad of George H.W. Bush. All the while assuring Americans that these appeals to their latent (and sometimes subconscious) racial bias and hostilities are being used by the “other side” when they point it out.

    Unfortunately, it’s now become the Republican “party line” that racism is a thing of the past and it’s just those durn Democrats that keep on bringing the subject up, as if the problem has been resolved. As if the Republican Party has not been all about using all sorts of strategies to suppress African-American votes because they just don’t “get it” that the Republican Party is really all for them. As long as they never bring up “race.”

  5. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/10/2015 - 06:56 am.

    Race

    Broadly speaking, in South Carolina the Democratic Party is largely the black party, and the Republican Party is largely the white party. This holds true even when it’s candidates are of a race that differs from the orientation of their party.

  6. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 01/10/2015 - 08:28 am.

    Ilya,

    Thanks for the article.

    And race relations have never been better than they are now, at least that is what President Obama said last week. The statistics that Mr. Ecklund quotes have nothing to do with racism and more to do with who is committing these crimes.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 01/13/2015 - 11:03 am.

      Have you been living under a rock?

      Try putting a tribal license plate on your car and drive around in Mille Lacs County at night and see how often you get stopped.

      I think you are a bit naive. Racial profiling is alive and well. Poverty also breeds more easily prosecuted crime than wealth. See the article on who is still poor in Minnesota.

  7. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/10/2015 - 11:09 am.

    Facts

    Oh, statistics… Approximately 90% of prison inmates are male while they represent only about 50% of population – how come I do not see headlines that the system is skewed against men?

    Look at this statistics by the FBI: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls. It shows that the number of blacks and whites who committed a murder is almost exactly the same even though, as Mr. Ecklund noted, blacks constitute only 12% of the population. Is that racism that forces blacks to kill people? And no, I am not saying that blacks are intrinsically more likely to kill – there are other reasons for this statistics (broken families is just one of them) – but it is not racism either. And it is this statistics which explain the prison population statistics, not racism.

    Yes, Democrats are more diverse but not because the Republicans are racist but because the Democrats usurped the role of minorities’ defenders and dupe people into believing it while in fact they are as much racist (or as little) as the Republicans are and do not care about people of color any more than others. The status quo of minorities’ being victimized that the Democrats promote harm minorities more than anything else (Asians do not subscribe to this approach and are well ahead of the game).

    Mr. Kingstad, thank you for a history lesson but I did know that. The problem here is that it is history and reality is way different now that it was even 30-40 years ago. I personally think that Nixon was one of the worst presidents ever but again that is irrelevant to what we are discussing. The only thing I did not know was the “Willie Horton” thing; however, I read about it and can’t see what it has to do with race – you again assign inferior racial motifs to a clearly political attack add related to crime in general. Democrats, on the other hand, explicitly press the race all the time. By the way, it looks like you comment disappeared…

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/12/2015 - 02:40 pm.

      Boys and girls are different

      To suggest that the disparity between incarceration rates between whites and minorities is somehow similar to the disparity between incarceration rates between the sexes is to suggest that there is a physical difference between the races like there is between the sexes.

      The thing is, males are more likely to take (sometimes stupid) risks because their testosterone levels exceed those of females, on average. Further, as a result of testosterone levels in males, they tend to be, on average, physically stronger than females. Risks taken by males, including stupid risks, can lead to jail time due to the lack of intelligence in those risks and/or the degree of harm to another human.

      But…you say that that’s NOT what you’re trying to say. Rather, you suggest that there’s an increased social pressure to commit crimes amongst blacks…not related to race. Huh? If there is no intrinsic difference between races, that leaves extrinsic differences. Somehow, you’re willing to embrace the existence of broken families as an extrinsic reason but not racism. Is it purely cultural? Are you telling me that all of the populations of black people throughout the United States are simply CHOOSING to be jailed for cultural reasons? Why in the world would different populations behave in the same way for no reason other than skin pigmentation? Could it actually be because the extrinsic forces that influence the supposed cultural norm of criminal activity are related to skin pigmentation? Would that not be the definition of racial discrimination?

      Racism is alive and well. It’s just found more subtle outlets.

  8. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/10/2015 - 11:15 am.

    Elections

    Two black people getting elected as Republicans does not prove that racism is dead. Another way to look at is ONLY two black Republicans got elected out of the hundreds of elections across the nation. That’s akin to saying there wasn’t a thunderstorm in a couple of places in the country, therefor there will be no more thunderstorms anywhere ever.

    Quite the contrary! As the author points out, Sen. Tim Scott is the first black Republican elected in the south since the Civil War. That’s not exactly a proud record to stand on, not to mention one data point does not a trend make.

    We’ve got a long way to go in this nation before race relations reach a parity. While the elections of Love and Scott are a good start, they are nothing more than that: a start.

    Keep on keeping on, folks.

  9. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 01/10/2015 - 12:04 pm.

    Race and ideology

    Black conservatives have been OK for white conservative voters for years – just think of a guy like Clarence Thomas. They will vote ideology over race every time. Given a black and a white conservative candidate with similar qualifications, I’m not sure that would come out that way.

    As long as a person acts and thinks exactly like them, then they are an ally. However, when the Republicans had a very legitimate black national leader (Colin Powell) who would have clearly been a better President than George W. Bush, they didn’t urge him to run and when Bush essentially ignored his advice in favor of white guys who didn’t know what they were talking about (Cheney, Rumsfeldt, and the other chicken hawks), they showed exactly how they feel about black leaders – follow, don’t lead.

    I obviously don’t know the writer, but an immigrant who came from Russia and lives in Marshall MN may not have exactly the widest experience with American race relations. We no long have very much open hate and intentional segregation, but discrimination occurs, as anyone who observes our society sees plenty of evidence for every day.

  10. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 01/10/2015 - 01:00 pm.

    The unfortunate thing….

    is that the race industry will have a myriad of derogatory terms for Rep. Love and Senator Scott for being off the liberal plantation. They are considered sell-outs. It’s interesting how the party which celebrates and promotes diversity does not tolerate diversity of opinions among minorities.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 01/10/2015 - 04:49 pm.

      That line is a stale talking point, and I first heard it

      …in reference to female candidates back in the 1970s and 1980s. I kept hearing that “Democrats are all for women in public office as long as they toe the Democratic line” or similar sentiments.

      Well yes, it’s true that for people with strong political views, ideology trumps ethnicity and gender.

      Republicans tend to like Clarence Thomas and Jodi Ernst. Do these same Republicans also like Keith Ellison and Elizabeth Warren?

      Definitely not, judging from what I’ve seen online.

      Oh, so they’re all in favor of minorities and women as long as they follow the Republican line.

      I see.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/10/2015 - 05:12 pm.

      Please tell me you see the irony of decrying derogatory terms for African-Americans while talking about liberal ‘plantations.’ And I dont think I saw anyone in this comment thread insulting Mr Scott nor Mrs Love.

  11. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/10/2015 - 01:16 pm.

    “Approximately 90% of prison inmates are male while they represent only about 50% of population – how come I do not see headlines that the system is skewed against men?”

    Isn’t that a question for headline writers?

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/10/2015 - 02:09 pm.

    Let’s try again

    I am afraid many people here lost the point I was making so I want to repeat it here: White older Republicans in South Carolina voted in a statewide election for a black person to represent them as a senator. Southern older whites are the population group that is accused of racism the most, partially based on history, and Republicans is a party that Democrats try to paint as racist and sexist all the time. This election result shows that racism (even the hidden one) does not play any role in how people vote.

    The other point I was making was that even though there are fewer minorities among Republicans, it is not because Republicans are racist and do not want to nominate or elect them, but because minorities do not associate themselves with Republicans (I always wonder what percentage of Democratic voters know that Lincoln was a Republican). And the reason minorities do not associate themselves with Republicans is Democratic propaganda about racism and discrimination and those flawed statistical conclusions that mentioned in my last comment. Obviously, stating that racism is a reason for this statistics and that statistics is a proof of racism is a circular reasoning. And pushing an idea that whites are to blame for blacks’ problems only contributes to blacks’ problems.

    Mr. Kingstad, I forgot to mention, those who deviated from the party line in the Soviet Union were shot or imprisoned (or expunged from the party losing all associated privileges if they were lucky) so please do not compare this with American politics.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/10/2015 - 05:38 pm.

      Back to your point

      I don’t think the comments lost the point. I think the comments refuted it. That you have cited a couple of notable exceptions only underscores the truth of what you are arguing is not the truth. The fact black Republicans got elected in South Carolina by predominantly older white voters only proves that such voters will vote their “party line” regardless of their race or color.

      I won’t apologize for using the reference to the “party line” because , frankly, the comparison is apt with respect to this history of race relations, an ugly part of US history. During the McCarthy era, people were “purged”: many innocent people lost their jobs for not being “loyal” enough. Blacks were lynched or otherwise murdered in the South (and in the North, e.g. in Duluth), often for trying only to register to vote. Why do you think we had to enact a Voting Rights Act? Why do you think many people were upset when the US Supreme Court curtailed the Justice Department’s surveillance over the practices of states ike South Carolina? Read Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson “Master of the Senate” if you think I’m exaggerating. I agree that it’s problem for the Republican Party. But as far as race is concerned in the USA, author William Faulkner said it best: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

      On your comments on discrimination in crime, its well established that for drug crime where usage is proportionately spread throughout the population, African-Americans are targeted for arrest, prosecution, and punishment by wide margins than whites for the same crimes. In other words, if you are convicted for coke distribution or use as a white, you are likely to get probation for the same crime a black person will be sent to prison. That’s why the prisons are so full of African-American men. It’s mostly from the “war on drugs.” You can pick out tons of studies online which show this but here’s a link to one article about it.

      http://www.vox.com/2014/7/1/5850830/war-on-drugs-racist-minorities

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 01/10/2015 - 05:41 pm.

      The fact that Lincoln was a Republican is

      pretty common knowledge. I learned it in seventh grade history class.

      But the Republican Party of his day was entirely different from today’s Republican Party. In fact, the Republican Party of forty years ago was quite a bit different from today’s Republican Party.

      Many Southern Democrats joined the Republicans in disgust after LBJ, a Democrat from Texas, signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In response, the Republicans began actively courting Southerners, partly by adding policies that were attractive to evangelical Protestants, such as school prayer, partly with indirect appeals to racists (Reagan’s continual talk about “welfare queens” or the legislators who kept talking about Constitutional amendments to ban busing for integration).

      If Eisenhower and Nixon came back to life, today’s Republicans would think that they were “far left wackos.”

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/10/2015 - 03:58 pm.

    This election result shows that racism (even the hidden one) does not play any role in how people vote.

    Well, no, it doesn’t really. It shows that whites are willing to vote for a black candidate. That certainly doesn’t contradict the possibility that they are racists. As it happens, the candidate they chose rejected many of the political positions historically held in the black community. Maybe they voted for Senator Scott, because they were rejecting those black political positions. Is that not arguably racist?

    Speaking for myself, I am what’s known in the trade as a yellow dog Democrat. I vote for the Democratic candidate on the ballot whatever his color, or I guess whatever his species. That being the case, how is it possible to properly infer my racial views and prejudices by whom I vote for?

  14. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/10/2015 - 07:38 pm.

    Responses

    Mr. Stegner, you say that black conservatives are OK for conservative voters but that is a statement of the obvious (if one throws out the racism issue) and that just proves my point that people vote ideology, not race. On the other hand, why would liberal blacks be OK for conservative voters if liberal whites are not OK for them either? Again, race is irrelevant. And Powell was never really conservative so he was rejected based on his views and ideology, not his race, the same as Condoleezza Rice was rejected by the liberals on the basis of her ideology.

    What is more interesting is that conservative blacks are not OK for liberal voters: conservative blacks are vilified all the time by the liberals. The current Cosby deal is a clear indication. He is not really conservative but he did say that blacks are responsible for their own fate and have multiple problems within their community. As a result, blacks and liberals turned away from him while they were supporting Clinton, Sharpton, and many others after they were accused of multiple wrongdoings. Of course, for liberals to be non-inclusive and non-receptive to the opposite point of view is… anti-liberal and hypocritical but that is a different topic.

    I have been living in the US for over twenty years including some time in Minneapolis; I have also visited all 48 contiguous states. I also read enough news and commentary (and history books) to have a pretty clear understanding of what is going on. Sure, there are racists and some individual discrimination does occur and I said that many times but there is no systemic and institutional racism – not even close. Surely there is also discrimination against blonds, little people, unattractive people and many others – that is regrettable but does not create problems in the society. Screaming racism and looking for that everywhere when it doesn’t exist brings many more problems than the isolated racism itself.

    Mr. Foster, my question about gender distribution in prisons may indeed be addressed to headline writers who use race every time they can in the headlines (if it favors a racism theory, not the other way). But it may also be addressed to liberals who decry every discrimination case: how come you are not concerned?

    If you state that white voters’ voting for a black candidate doesn’t disprove their racism, what will, in your mind? Publicly stating that they adore Al Sharpton? Of course they voted for Mr. Scott because of his policies which are Republican and, therefore, not Democratic (and blacks’ position is mostly Democratic). But arguing that disagreeing with the black political position is racist is unreasonable putting it mildly. Am I an anti-Semite because I disagree with position of most American Jews who vote mostly Democratic? Equating political disagreement with a group of people to being prejudiced against that group of people is contrary to all democratic values.

    Ms. Sandness, you are right, Republicans like Clarence Thomas and Jodi Ernst and dislike Keith Ellison and Elizabeth Warren which just proves that race doesn’t matter so thank you. Of course, Democrats likes and dislikes are just the opposite so can we say that they like minorities and women only when they follow Democratic line?

    Mr. Kingstad, the comments didn’t even come close to refuting my argument – see my above response to Mr. Foster. A racist will never vote for a black person just because in racist’s views a black person is inferior and cannot represent him or her. Racists may not vote for the opposing candidate for political reasons but in this case they will just not vote. And if you think that a true racist may vote for a black person, you misunderstand what racism is. Similarly, if a person thinks that women are inferior to men, he will never vote for a woman. The entire history shows that this is true.

    I never suggested that you have to apologize for misuse of the party line term – I just wanted to clarify it for you. And if I understand the reason for enacting Voting Rights Act, being upset with the Supreme Court decision to abolish it now is unreasonable in light on this South Carolina election – the state you mentioned. And Faulkner was talking about mid century – not our time, and unfortunately, liberals do not allow this thing to die. Can you imagine if Jews in Germany took similar position now and kept referring to the Holocaust every time they didn’t like something?

    As for your drug crime statistics, it is influenced by the murder statistics and it would be weird if it were not. I disagree with the “war on drugs” but the reason for statistics you are citing (and it is in that article as well) is that the police are more aggressive in bad neighborhoods based on the “broken windows” policies…

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/11/2015 - 07:07 pm.

      Definition of terms

      “And if you think that a true racist may vote for a black person, you misunderstand what racism is.”

      I think our disagreement to some extent revolves around understanding what “racism is.”

      I agree with you that a racist in the sense epitomized by David Duke, a “white supremecist”, would never vote for an African-American. The problem is that “racism” has become much more subtle and difficult to point out anecdotally, except when it surfaces in incidents we have seen e.g. with Rodney King a few years ago and more recently with Michael Brown in Ferguson. I think many people who do not think of themselves as racist would vote for a black person and indeed have convinced themselves (and you, Mr. Gutman and others)that they cannot be racists for the obvious reason that it cannot be so because they voted for a black person, didn’t they? How can a person be “prejudiced” as we used to say in the 1960’s and vote for a black person to a higher elected office?

      Here’s my answer: I think that as society has come to condemn and marginalize overt racists like David Duke, many people (white people that is) have learned to keep their genuine and conscious white supremecist attitudes to themselves. (Even David Duke attempts to evade his prior overt racism in this way). There is another category of white person who has convinced him or herself that since they consciously harbor no prejudice against anyone on the basis of their skin color, they cannot be racist. Then there is the psychological matter of the “subconscious.” How you define “racism” depends in large part on whether you accept the idea that one can consciously think one thing but subconsciously believe or act in another way subconsciously (or unconsciously). The whole idea of subconsciousness underpins the idea of “denial”. We say a person is in “denial” when their conscious mind refuses to accept the reality before their eyes which they refuse to acknowledge or accept. The comments I’ve read recently from white people about how they think black people should respond to events in Ferguson, MO and in New York City tell me that there are many white people in the US who are in “denial” about their unconscious racism.

      You say in your comment that “Democrat’s propaganda” is responsible for the fact that African-Americans remain tied to that party politically. Might not it be true that blacks have an experience which tells them that whatever white people say, their actual conduct, contrary to what they say, represents the real truth? Might it not be true that whatever people say about themselves, their actions reveal more about the truth of themselves? If someone is telling me that my actions, even my unintended, subconscious actions, are causing them harm or hurt, should I listen to what they are telling me?

      What I understand you are arguing to African-Americans: “Stop saying that you have a problem. I voted for a black person in the last election”. Just because one is not a white supremecist does not mean that one is not a racist or hold racist attitudes. I am not exempting myself from this by the way. I am trying imperfectly to deal with my own racist attitudes. But as all 12 step programs establish, acknowledging that one has a problem is the first step toward recovery.

  15. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/11/2015 - 07:01 am.

    how come you are not concerned?
    If
    I don’t get paid to write headlines. The reasons why men and and particularly black men go to prison at the high rates they do has a lot to do with race, and maybe headline writers should give more attention to those issues than they do.

    “If you state that white voters’ voting for a black candidate doesn’t disprove their racism, what will, in your mind?”

    Negative attitude towards race, I suppose, some of which have to do with high rates of imprisonment in places like South Dakota. If you think it’s important to search out for racism, look to the places where it is, not where it isn’t. There isn’t much racism on the Moon, I believe.

    “Am I an anti-Semite because I disagree with position of most American Jews who vote mostly Democratic?”

    I don’t know. Are you? Am I racist for reacting or not reacting to certain groups in the way I do? That is certainly a question I wrestle with. I can tell you my own concern about my racial attitudes is hardly alleviated by the fact that I routinely vote for a Congress who happens to belong to another race.

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/11/2015 - 10:12 am.

    white voters’ voting for a

    white voters’ voting for a black candidate doesn’t disprove their racism, what will, in your mind?

    Not enacting measures intended to make it more difficult for people to vote is one way. Supporting measures that make health care available to all is another.

  17. Submitted by Andrew Engen on 01/11/2015 - 11:21 am.

    Characterization of the UT-4 Race Completely Wrong

    That election actually does the opposite of proving your point. She did not easily win, she won by 3.2% and barely crossed the 50% mark, if she did it all. This is in a district Romney got 67% and McCain got 56%. She barely lost in 2012 against a Democratic incumbent who retired out of fear to losing to her, so she had a wide open seat with the national GOP establishment firmly supporting her election. And she barely won in what was a GOP wave election.

    If anything, her results show how hard it is for a conservative black woman to get elected in a solidly Republican seat because of racism and discrimination.

  18. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/12/2015 - 08:39 am.

    Views abroad in the land

    There is a view abroad in the land that when we elected a black president in 2008, America would finally resolving and putting all racial issues behind us. I don’t recall holding such views myself, either then or now, but I have been assured that I did, and such a claim is reinforced by the argument that by electing a black senator, last year, South Carolina definitively put an end to a 400 year legacy of racism. One of the interesting things to me, is how widely these views are held even at the highest levels of our government. Five members of our Supreme Court, for example, seem to subscribe to this sort of thinking, admittedly before events in New York City, and Ferguson, Missouri reminded us all that issues of race and racism still afflict our culture.

    Pardon me if I have my doubts. Much as I revere the voting booth, it is not the secular equivalent of the confessional. No absolution is to be found there. If you were a sinner going in, you are still a sinner coming out. Scratching your voting preferences on a piece of paper alone does not solve all the problems of the world. One misperception that I find increasingly bothersome is what I think of as a too widespread belief in our culture that the democratic process stops when the votes are counted, that once the elections are over, citizens should then turn over the serious business of governing to elected officials, and the chattering media class that obsess over them. If we want to do things like end racism in this country, we as citizens need to do a lot more than vote for black candidates for president, black candidates for senator, even black candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. Nothing in life is that easy. Instead, and I think this applies to all of us of whatever race or creed, need to re-examine our ourselves, and our society, to search out and reexamine a lot of previously unexamined assumption about the structure of our society that contribute to the racial divide. This is hard and continuing work, and there won’t be any easy or facile solutions. But in my view at least, when we engage in such work, we will begin to make greater progress toward the fair and just society we all desire.

  19. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/12/2015 - 01:42 pm.

    A necessary response

    Mr. Foster, white men go to prison at a higher rate than women – no doubt about that. And they want to serve more in the army. And women give birth at much higher rates than men… No headlines necessary.

    So you are going back to statistics – this time incarceration rates in South Dakota… The New York Times once stated that “Correlation does not imply causation.” They said it for a different reason but it is always true. Please prove that your statistics from SD is caused by racism – it is your responsibility to support, not mine to prove otherwise.

    I never said that it is important to search for racism – in fact I said the opposite. So sure, there is not much racism on the Moon but there isn’t much more in America. By the way, do you think there is black racism? And if there is, what are you doing to fight it?

    And I said it before that all gerrymandering is political and has nothing to do with racism. If blacks were routinely voting for Republicans, Democrats would be the first to try to change the districts to their advantage.

    I think the problem is that, for whatever reason (misinterpretation of history, perhaps?), you (and so many other liberals) think that you constantly have to prove that you are not a racist. So you take pain to find racism so you can fight it. But you are fighting windmills, in the process wasting your time and efforts and damaging those you are fighting for. Yes, if you always vote Democratic regardless of the candidate’s race you are not a racist (as I said a true racist would never vote for a black person). And reacting to a group of people based on facts is perfectly normal.

    Mr. Engen, the difference between 56% and 51% is not that much. I guess, there may be some racist Republicans (all 1% of them) who didn’t go to elections this time… Or I can suggest that racist Democrats came out in greater numbers just to defeat a black Republican…

    Mr. Kingstad, please see my response to Mr. Foster about “hidden, subconscious” racism. People can always find “hidden” things if they want to find them. And of course there is never a way to prove that there is no “hidden” racism if you look for that even in yourself. And what is wrong with asking black people not to riot in Ferguson – what is racist here? I understand that you have a belief that racism exists, just like other people have a belief that God exists so logical arguments are useless in this case. But still check my question about black racism…

  20. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/13/2015 - 08:22 am.

    I am confused…

    …by so many things in Ilya’s post.

    “white men go to prison at a higher rate than women…” “And women give birth at much higher rates than men… No headlines necessary.”

    – Are you arguing that black men are being incarcerated at a disproportionate rate because they are biologically disposed towards behavior that leads to incarceration?

    “I never said that it is important to search for racism – in fact I said the opposite. So sure, there is not much racism on the Moon but there isn’t much more in America. By the way, do you think there is black racism?”

    – So, racism doesn’t exist, but even if it did… we should ignore it? How does that solve anything? And black racism… this is the same as calling it ‘reverse racism.’ Racism doesn’t _belong_ to whites, if that is what you are implying. Racism is. It’s a lark, but I would also point out that there were no black astronauts in the Apollo program.

    “…think that you constantly have to prove that you are not a racist. So you take pain to find racism so you can fight it. But you are fighting windmills, in the process wasting your time and efforts and damaging those you are fighting for.”

    – So fighting racism = supporting racism? Please elaborate.

    “I understand that you have a belief that racism exists, just like other people have a belief that God exists so logical arguments are useless in this case. ”

    – ?

  21. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/12/2015 - 02:26 pm.

    The irony is that the election of these two individuals may very well be entirely about race. The Republican party is actively trying to push away the legitimate air of racism and sexism around the party. Leaders in both major parties have a large influence on who ends up on the ballot, especially when primaries are poorly attended by voters. As a result, sometimes the party leaders identify tokens to place in key areas in order to try to move the dial for the whole party. While it is fortunate for those individuals who get elected as tokens for their parties, it often doesn’t actually reflect the actual practices and undercurrent in the party. Just because Republican candidates who got elected in heavily Republican areas happen to be people who are not white, doesn’t mean that the Republican party is innocent of the racist and sexist miasma that surrounds it. Even if the GOP manages to rid itself of its image with regard to race and/or sex, it is not interested in actually getting rid of all its prejudices, because the voters they want to keep are quite happy disliking one group or another, it’s just that gay and/or Muslim is the new black, and it’s hard to keep digging on the ‘weaker sex’ because they’re the ones moving up the financial ladder as we dig out of the biggest financial disaster Congress and their pocket liners could create without starving us ALL.

    And there’s the key–both major parties will always be about who holds the dollar, not who holds the moral compass. It’s not about racism, sexism, religious intolerance, or other prejudices…unless it gets the votes of those who can’t afford to buy them. The difference between the GOP and the Democratic party is that the GOP is more likely to embrace intolerance in order to secure a vote and the Democratic party is more likely to fly the inclusion flag. It’s pretty apparent that it’s a matter of method, not morals. That being said, the method more likely to result in One Nation isn’t the one that divides and conquers. So, don’t fool yourself into believing that racism is dead in the Republican party or elsewhere. It’s just been shuffled off into the corners so that it can continue unnoticed so that it can be dusted off again when it’s back en vogue and will garner votes again.

  22. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/12/2015 - 07:16 pm.

    “white men go to prison at a higher rate than women – no doubt about that. And they want to serve more in the army. And women give birth at much higher rates than men… No headlines necessary.”

    That’s a question of news judgment, of what sells papers. It’s of no relevance here.

    “Are you arguing that black men are being incarcerated at a disproportionate rate because they are biologically disposed towards behavior that leads to incarceration? ”

    No, certainly not.

    “do you think there is black racism?”

    Sure, I do. I think there is all kinds of racism out there, and little or none of it is cured by what happens in a polling booth.

    “we should ignore it?”

    Maybe at times ignoring it is the solution, to say I am just going to put my racist feelings aside. My guess is that lots of black people have lots of experience just ignoring racism and just moving along when it occurs.

    One form of racism is never excused simply because other forms of racism exist. White racism, in no way is justified by the real or imagined existence of black racism, or any other form of prejudice that exists within any individual or group.

  23. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/13/2015 - 11:33 am.

    A few more points

    Mr. Ecklund, no one is more inclined to commit a crime than others but there is another reason for crime statistics than racism.

    We should not ignore racism and fighting it is not racism either. But finding racism and fighting it where it does not exist (which is almost everywhere) takes precious time, money, and efforts from where they can actually help – like promoting self-reliance, strengthening family and education. Plus, if you are looking for something that you are sure exists, you may misinterpret things for what you are expecting to find.

    Questioning yourself if you are a racist for some normal reactions to events around you is already a proof that you are not a racist. True racists either know that they are racist or sure they are not.

    Ms. Kahler, why don’t you want to take a Yes for an answer? You are going on the basis of your preconceived bias towards Republicans which is not better than any other bias. What would convince you that people are not racist?

    • Submitted by jason myron on 01/13/2015 - 03:13 pm.

      What?

      “Questioning yourself if you are a racist for some normal reactions to events around you is already a proof that you are not a racist. True racists either know that they are racist or sure they are not.”….uhhhh, no, it isn’t proof of anything. There are plenty of racists, in fact most of them, who don’t feel they’re racist at all. Everyone thinks their prejudices are justified and almost no one will ever self-identify themselves as racist.
      For you to make a statement that racism is essentially nonexistent, goes beyond fallacy and enters the realm of pure ignorance.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/15/2015 - 01:26 pm.

      Yes to what?

      I’d like to take “yes” for an answer to lots of things, but I don’t know what you’re referring to.

      As far as convincing me that people are not racist? Well, when I stop actually seeing racism, I’ll consider it. In the meantime, while it’s not AS blatantly obvious as it once was, racism is not gone. Even if we were overly optimistic about it and believed that racism is in the past, it IS blatantly obvious that the results of racism still reverberate in our country. Otherwise, those racial incarceration statistics wouldn’t be what they are. Nor would the economic statistics. And because the Republican party loudly claims that those statistics are purely due to personal choice and must therefore be solved by the will (and more importantly, the pocketbooks) of those affected, I must assume racism since GOP policies heavily select for minority poverty and incarceration. There would be no other reason for the party to pursue some of the policies, such as election “fraud” prevention, because fraud is so vanishingly rare that the cost per offense to “fix” it is astronomical, and since the GOP claims to be the “fiscally responsible” (HA!) party, it runs contrary to the main line of the party and must be otherwise motivated. I can find no other reason than to keep the most disadvantaged individuals “in their place.” Which primarily affects people of color. Nothing says racism so loudly as disproportionately disenfranchising African Americans. Nothing like taking away a fundamental right of citizenship, eh?

      Plus, the whole goose chase with regard to Obama’s birth certificate was pretty obvious. No one made a single comment on Mitt’s citizenship, even though HIS father was also foreign born (his father was, arguably, a Mexican citizen, living in a colony in Mexico to circumvent American law). The difference? Well, considering that, in the past, the biggest prejudicial arguments revolved around the religion of a candidate, it would seem that Romney got a pretty big pass. Probably because Obama is not white.

  24. Submitted by Erin Maye on 01/13/2015 - 12:25 pm.

    I’m concerned that in the face of a lot of concrete evidence to the contrary, you double down on your statement that racism does not exist (almost everywhere!).

    Again, I believe you are confusing overt racism (people holding signs and protesting black people marching a la 1964) and systemic racism that gives us statistics like these:

    Children Living in Poverty in Minneapolis.
    60.5% of African American
    55.8% of Asian children
    38.3% of Latino children
    7.7% of White children

    Perhaps the fact that your current city of residence has about 500 black people in it makes it seem like the election of 2 new African Americans to the U.S. Congress. Or perhaps Marshall, MN has become the new racist-less epicenter of the U.S. without my knowledge but truly, this is not a matter of opinion.
    Racism certainly does exist, regardless of your acceptance of this fact.

    Articles such as yours just continue to make it harder on those of us who continue to strive for equality for everyone here in Minnesota and the United States.

  25. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/14/2015 - 06:11 am.

    Questioning yourself if you are a racist for some normal reactions to events around you is already a proof that you are not a racist.

    Actually, it’s very common for racists not to think they are racists. There is a lot of self delusion out there.

  26. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/14/2015 - 11:39 am.

    True and false arguments

    Here is a proof that people do not read when they think they did: Some tried to rebuke me by saying that racists do not think that they are racists but that is EXACTLY what I said. I said they think that they are not and therefore do not question themselves. So questioning one’s motifs is a sign of NOT being a racist.

    And I said many times that using statistics as a proof of racism is a circular logic since the same statistics is explained by racism. Please provide “cause and effect” proof for this statistics.

    And finally, saying that since I am from a small town and therefore do not understand is not a valid argument. It is possible to know a lot from traveling and reading and then make logical conclusions.

  27. Submitted by jason myron on 01/15/2015 - 06:13 am.

    We don’t read?

    Seriously? This reminds of the SNL skit when Tna Fey as Sarah Palin says ” Don’t try and twist my words by quoting me verbatim.”

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