The Pursuit of Racial Amity

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Fred Reed broods on the pursuit of racial amity:

Pondering the smoking ruins of American racial policy, I wonder whether it isn’t time to say publicly what many, if not most, of both races know: It isn’t working. It isn’t going to work. If it were, it would have. If it were working, we would not need the unending laws to force the races together when they don’t want to be together. If people wanted diversity, it would happen without compulsion..

The hope that black and white would mingle amicably if only segregation were dismantled relied on a peculiarly American inattention to life and history, and on a belief that people will behave as we want them to, instead of how they observably do behave. Human nature remains human nature, no matter how hard one holds one’s breath and turns blue.

It is not an easy thing that we try to do. Frequently, far smaller disparities than those between black and white lead to bloody conflict. Catholics and Protestants, Shia and Sunni, Jew and Christian are often virtually indistinguishable, yet share a history of internecine butchery of each other.  Is there anywhere an example of two groups so large and utterly different as blacks and whites successfully merging?

Despite our best imaginings, race is far more than skin deep. The races differ wildly in culture, appearance, attitudes, views of each other, language, musical taste, dress, attitudes toward law, education, family, and the role of government.

What if it isn’t working because it can’t?, he asks:

Whites have no more desire to be black than blacks do to be white. This attachment of each race to its culture impossibilizes assimilation.

Things can seem to be working better than they are. Most whites see only bleached blacks, those in business clothes speaking perfect English on television. Few see the huge black urban ghettoes, hermetically isolated from the rest of the country. You can spend eight hours in these regions in a police car—I have, many times—and never see a Caucasian face. The ghettoes amount to a different country, a different civilization, in distributed enclaves. Assimilation before the heat death of the sun isn’t going to happen.

If you look at what people do instead of what they say, you will note that the races do not want to associate, and indeed don’t much like each other. For example in Washington, where I lived for many years, the races coexisted in compulsory amity at work but then went to separate neighborhoods, bars, and restaurants. When blacks wearied of the (black, actually) violence of the city, they moved to Prince Georges County in Maryland, heavily black; whites went to Fairfax Country, Virginia, almost all white. Black kids in white universities want black-only fraternities and living quarters. When whites threaten by gentrification to become a majority in black regions, like Washington itself, blacks hate it.

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