Our Opinion/ Discrimination is defined in the eye of the white beholder
By Cindy Gomez
Political correctness has been hotly criticized for the last decade or so. On the heels of the civil rights movement, women rights movement, anti-war movement and student movements, political correctness showed up on college campuses across the U.S., and spread throughout the country. Supported by civil rights and anti-discrimination federal laws the people of the U.S., began an education in political correctness. People who once used the “n” word as part of their common speech were reigned in and shown the error of their ways. Men were admonished to stop referring to women as “honey”, or “baby”. People were told they couldn’t call gay people “faggot” anymore. Whites were told not to call women of color “gal” or “girl”. And so on.
But, rather than attack the underlying feelings of prejudice and hate behind the words, we just waged a war on the words themselves. Without eradicating the underlying problem, the “PC” movement was doomed from the start. People were not taught the history of the words they were told not to use or what types of behaviors followed these words historically. Perhaps.
Like any weapon that is mishandled, PC can be dangerous. Truth is PC has become a double edged sword benefiting no one. Those who were supposed to benefit from the PC movement: feminists, people of color, the GLBT community, people with disabilities, etc. were once happy to claim the PC movement and demand that prejudicial language not be used. But, once people began stifling their speech, discrimination continued. It just went to the very PC, but very silent, underground world of innuendo, institutionalized segregation, racism, and homophobia. Stealth discrimination is rampant in our country, and the PC movement is the cloak of invisibility that hides it.
Being PC, has now become somewhat of a joke to those who hoped that the movement would bring greater equality and acceptance. Instead, people learned to use PC terms and smile blithely at those they despised internally. While discriminatory practices remain in place, the victims can no longer signal when it’s happening to them. This is all due to the PC movement’s ineffective campaign at eradicating discrimination by “silence”.
The outcome of the failed movement means that today you can still treat someone like the “n” word, but never call someone the “n” word. It allows men to treat women unequally, pay them less, and disrespect their value- - all without the use of words indicating prejudice.
But let’s be clear: a lack of those words may indicate political correctness but it does NOT indicate a lack of discrimination. Discrimination in its various forms remains undeterred and we’ve found new ways to avoid it or rename it to sound more PC like “tolerance”, “the income gap” and the “education gap”. But discrimination is easy to spot. It shows up in outcomes and the disproportionately low numbers of people of color vs. whites that are given access to:
:: Education. Nationwide the number of whites that finish high school is pretty high (around 80%), but only about half for kids of color; the percentages of people of color who are given access to a college education is much smaller.
:: Housing. Most cities, including ours, are still segregated by income (and by extension race and other undesirable qualities such as age, disability or sexual orientation).
:: Jobs. Most cities, including ours, have a disproportionately low percentage of people of color vs. whites in high paying positions and/or wages commensurate with pay when compared by race and qualifications.
:: Justice. A disproportionately high number of people of color are incarcerated in American jails.
:: Respect. The frequency of appearances in public media with positive connotation are disproportionately low for people of color vs. whites. These days, mainstream TV is fairly blatant and open regarding discrimination; forgoing PC altogether in some cases. Here are some video examples: http://qr.net/b0vy or scan this QR code to watch.
Although the outcomes are clearly unequal, the argument for why we see disproportionate numbers of people of color on the losing end of this equation is frequently disconnected from race; especially by those who’ve been indoctrinated into the PC world—to ignore race and race issues. For those who wish to ignore factors of race and discrimination the only conclusions to be drawn from disparate treatments and outcomes between races is that the victims of discrimination are somehow to blame themselves. This blame manifests in stereotypes; the shared belief that people of color are more likely to be violent, poor, get pregnant young, use drugs, go to jail, fail in school, be fired from work, have poor credit, etc. But the illusion that such different outcomes between whites and people of color have nothing to do with race is just that: an illusion. Despite this fact, conservative and progressive whites still fail to act. Presumably because of misinformation or because as whites it is not in their own self interest to do so.
Whether it is lack of knowledge or apathy, both the media and public have ignored and silenced or censored any major studies debunking the myth that people of color are more likely to embody the ills of society rather than its virtues. Not surprisingly, several such major studies blaming government or media for racial profiling were almost totally ignored by major media when they were released. One on drug use in America performed by the Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy (PLNDP) including high ranking members of the Regan, Bush and Clinton administrations found not only “that it [drug abuse] reaches across all strata of society, with affluent, educated Caucasians being the most likely drug users, and the most likely to be addicted”, but also that the punitive policies of the “war on drugs” unjustly targeted people of color.
Another called “Crime in Black and White: The Violent, Scary World of Local News” also debunked the ideas that all criminals are people of color or that crime is only violent (read: white collar crime is—as the name implies—often committed by whites, primarily ignored by media, and even praised in movies.) Then, a study by Yale University professor Martin Gilens, entitled “Race and Poverty in America: Public Misperceptions and the American News Media went further in analyzing the role of public perception of race through media showing that “apparently well-meaning, racially liberal news professionals generate images of the social world that consistently misrepresent both black Americans and poor people in destructive ways.”
When it comes to race and issues of discrimination in American society, we are horribly lost. Political correctness is no longer a tool to quell discrimination but instead a tool to perpetuate it. And the negative stereotypes are supported by irresponsible media who racially profile as well as the public’s desire to maintain the status quo institutionalized racism that is deeply ingrained in our history and psyches.
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