We have a problem, but it's not systemic racism
On July 5, 2011, police officers in Fullerton, California beat a 37-year-old schizophrenic man to death as he cried for his "daddy" repeatedly. He hadn't committed a crime or done anything at all to provoke the attack. Yet despite being described as one of the worst police beatings in U.S. history, none of the officers was charged with the murder of Kelly Thomas.
This incident is similar to the George Floyd event that occurred last year, which gained much more publicity and sparked an aggressive antiracist movement. Since then, it has become fashionable for politicians and celebrities to accuse each other of racism over actions that, while obnoxious, actually have nothing to do with racial discrimination. But Kelly Thomas and the officers who killed him were all white men — which reveals that racism is not the real issue here. Police brutality — and the abuse of power in general — applies to people of all races.
With the recent fixation on systemic racism, schools have been pressured to teach Critical Race Theory, and this is causing more harm than good. For instance, a course survey I took after completing a class at California State University, Fullerton prompted me to rate my instructor's effectiveness in convicting me of my own privileged status. It struck me as inappropriate; I attended school to be educated, not indoctrinated. Besides, I grew up with a single mother who lived paycheck to paycheck — hardly a privileged demographic. People around the country with similar sentiments have been fiercely protesting the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools. Some states have even banned it from the curriculum — but the culture war rages on.
Corporations have jumped on the antiracist bandwagon as well, slapping up statements on their websites that pander to the movement. One can't even buy ice cream from Ben & Jerry's without being subjected to a lecture about the evils of systemic racism. It's just absurd.
Now, I understand that racist attitudes still exist today among a minority, but America simply cannot be compared to a truly racist society. In fact, my ancestors fled to the United States from Nazi-occupied Europe in order to escape real systemic racism. Nazi Germany aggressively boycotted Jewish businesses and taught schoolchildren that the Aryan race was inherently superior to all others. That's systemic racism. And while no one has offered reparations for the Holocaust — as if such a thing could satisfactorily make up for its atrocities — Jewish culture emphasizes an attitude of resilience rather than victimization. The best way to honor the memory of our persecuted ancestors is to learn from the past, vow to never repeat it, and move on to make the most of our lives.
Racism is an unfortunate part of America's history, but we have clearly progressed. We have black celebrities, black sports stars, and a black president on our list. That would not be possible in a racist country.
What I fear is that indoctrinating students with Critical Race Theory will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instilling the belief that life is rigged against certain people encourages a fixed mindset rather than an empowering growth mindset. Regardless of any real or perceived disadvantages we may have, Americans are still more advantaged than most other people in the world, simply because we live in an industrialized nation with ample opportunities for education, employment, and access to resources. Why not see the glass as (at least) half full? It is just as important to acknowledge our present victories as our past failures.
This isn't to imply that human rights issues no longer exist today. They certainly do, but they don't stem from white privilege. Slavery has long been abolished. Equal rights for black Americans and other minority groups have been established since the civil rights movement. We all rooted for Martin Luther King, Jr. when we learned about him in elementary school. Let's take his advice seriously: to judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Let's not go one step forward and two steps back.
It's time to move on from this issue that is being strategically used to destabilize the country. We face different problems today. We have invented new forms of segregation, such as between the left and the right, the masked and the unmasked — and, most disturbingly, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Scientists, doctors, and others who question the safety of experimental injections are being systematically censored and demonized. People are losing their jobs because they don't feel comfortable participating in a massive medical experiment. The parallels to Nazi Germany's human experiments are quite striking, though this particular iteration of discrimination is colorblind.
Indeed, we have a battle to fight — but let's aim our indignation at the right enemy.
Lynn Wolfe is an adjunct professor of English at California Baptist University. Visit her blog at www.lynnwolfe.wordpress.com.
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