Saturday, May 10, 2008

Symbolic Racism

This campaign season brings a plethora of new knowledge. First, we were exposed to low-information signaling, now we are confronted with symbolic racism.

I love this one. It is such a tidy little theory. As near as I can determine, (and I searched a university library database and found only three scholarly references to the term,) the theory of symbolic racism is that all blame for black poverty, failure to attain average educational levels and even infant mortality is due to discrimination. None of these things can be legitimately tied to despair, lack of effort or even health issues. Symbolic racism is therefore simply the rejection of the idea that, in any instance that blacks do not attain the average it is discrimination at work. You must believe that discrimination is always at work.

So if you believe, as apparently Bill Cosby does, that blacks are somewhat responsible for themselves you are a racist. What a demeaning thought, that if you are black, you can never be responsible for your own life. All references I found made the point that symbolic racism is very subtle and white people do not realize they are racist, but they are.

This whole theory strikes me as social scientists assuming a theory, and when not able to find support for the theory, they created an explanation that is squishy enough that it can neither be confirmed nor denied.

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