Your argument is based on the assumption that all whites engage in explicit discrimination against all blacks. You’re white; do YOU discriminate against blacks? I don’t. My grandfather did, I’m sure, but he’s been dead for decades now. My parents certainly didn’t. I don’t have any friends or acquaintances who’ve said anything racist. Do you?

Where are all these racists who are oppressing blacks? I know they’re out there; I read about them in the news all the time. But my impression is that they are a tiny fraction of the population. At the Charlottesville protests two years ago, the counterprotesters outnumbered the right-wing protesters by about two to one. But for one exception (the President), the condemnation of the right-wing people was universal.

“we’re all just getting along fine as long as black men say “yes sir officer” every time they are pulled over for no good reason.”

As always, it’s more complicated than you think. Let’s take the tragic case of Sandra Bland, the young black woman who committed suicide in a Texas jail cell after being arrested. There’s no question that the arresting officer committed a number of crimes in his treatment of Ms. Bland, and he was fired and charged with perjury and settled with the Feds by agreeing never to serve in law enforcement again — an overly light sentence given the gravity of his crimes. Her family reached a $1.9 million settlement with the county for its poor procedures that permitted her suicide. All in all, justice fell short of the mark in this case.

My point, though, is that Ms. Bland’s behavior was a contributing factor to the tragedy. I emphasize (an emphasis I doubt you’ll perceive) that the great bulk of the blame falls upon the arresting officer. Yet I also point out that, had Ms. Bland been more cooperative, she would likely have driven away with a ticket. It would still have been an injustice that she was ticketed, and I doubt that a perfectly reasonable and cooperative attitude on her part would have prevented her from getting a ticket. She was completely within her rights at every point in the confrontation, but she was also stupidly confrontational. Legally, she was right. Psychologically, she was wrong.

My point is that her confrontational approach only made a bad situation worse. A slave being whipped who calls the wielder of the whip a stinking motherfucker is entirely correct and very stupid.

Here is where we come to the nub of the issue: how should we respond to injustice when we are powerless? Our emotions cry out for defiance; rationalism recommends a cooperative strategy until such time as the injustice can be addressed in a fair setting. But who has the moral strength of will to follow the rational strategy?

Master of Science, Physics, 1975. Computer Game Designer. Interactive Storytelling.

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