Crossposted at DemocraticDiva.com
I meant to weight in on AZ Republic’s Bob Robb’s vomit-inducing column from last Wednesday but I see that Cynthia Zwick has responded beautifully to Robb’s outrageously offensive claim that poor black people shouldn’t be politically active and should instead quietly get jobs and stop having so many welfare babies and abusing drugs and alcohol.
Robb’s conclusion is truly disturbing. “Obviously children living in poverty aren’t there because they failed to check the right boxes,” he wrote. “But what serves their interests best: Telling them that poverty is a political issue to be addressed through activism? Or that poverty is a condition that can be escaped or avoided through education, hard work and not engaging in destructive behavior?”
Those questions are subtle directives towards those who are poor and, by association, those who are of color. His message is: go to school, work hard, and keep your head down and don’t bother wasting your time protesting and engaging in politics, protests and activism.
In truth, the exact opposite is needed.
Poor communities and communities of color must engage in activism. They must vote, hold their leaders accountable and demand systemic change through peaceful protest.
Robb has a history of defending voter suppression so it’s no surprise that he would lecture a majority black community reeling from the senseless death of an unarmed young man to avoid politics. They should instead listen to the Bob Robb as he patiently mansplains how poor minorities getting all activist makes affluent white guys with whom Bob Robb is friends have Teh Sadz.
Richard Nixon popularized the phrase, “the silent majority.” Although Nixon used it initially in relation to his plan for the Vietnam War, it quickly took on a larger context.
It came to describe people who didn’t buy the radical critique of the United States prevalent at the time, but didn’t participate in the political debates and discussions about it. Whether such people constituted a true majority is open to debate. But opting out of the freighted political dialogue of the times was a widespread phenomenon…
…Life in poor, minority neighborhoods is tough. Most Americans empathize and support policies to provide a helping hand. But I suspect many Americans are bewildered about how what happened in the streets of Ferguson is supposed to make things better. That, however, is not a point of view you hear much.
I have a friend who keeps up on current events but isn’t particularly politically active beyond voting. He’s generally conservative, but not deeply ideological.
He once told me that he had gotten tired of hearing his political views described as racist, uncaring and uncompassionate. So, he had just quit listening to it.
In his personal life, my friend is tolerant and generous. But the prevailing political discussion characterizes him in a way he knows to be false. Rather than fight against it, he’s opted to ignore it.
I suspect he is far from alone.
Oh brother, “silent majority” my ass. My entire life I’ve heard nonstop caterwauling from dumb privileged white people over imaginary threats, which has only gotten amplified by the election of a black man to the Presidency. Speaking of which, has Bob Robb – who thinks that black people’s problems would disappear through virtue, hard work, and education – really not noticed that “getting elected President of the United States” isn’t even a sure path to respect for a black person from a lot of white people? I mean, man, has Barack Obama being President made that so-called silent majority get even chattier than they’ve ever been!
As for Bob’s friend, here is yet another “moderate Republican” who is more offended by having it pointed out that his party is overrun by bigots and is promoting horrible racist policies than by the actual facts of those things. If Bob Robb’s friend such a mensch in his personal life, then he is more than welcome to start being one in his voting life too. He can go on sticking his fingers in his ears if he wants but people aren’t going to stop speaking the truth he doesn’t want to hear about the people he is helping elect.
And Bob might want to check his assumptions about behavior causing poverty. Seems like some people can engage in bad habits and still get ahead.
Houser’s story reflects another facet of the Johns Hopkins study. The researchers found that more affluent white men in the study reported the highest frequency of drug abuse and binge drinking, yet they still had the most upward mobility.
“The extent of what we refer to as problem behavior is greatest among whites and less so among African-Americans,” Alexander says. “Whites of advantaged background had the highest percentages who did all three of those things — that was binge drinking, any drug use and heavy drug use.”