The Racism of Pity
Guess what? I just found out that because I’m black I might be a felon who has a right to food stamp benefits. Isn’t that amazing? Well, I wasn’t directly told that, but reading the Mother Jones article titled ‘GOP Food Stamps Proposal Would Discriminate Against African-Americans’, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that’s the message they wish to send to us.
In such a blatantly biased article, Mother Jones goes after the GOP’s proposal to amend the farm bill to ban convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles from the food stamp rolls. Now, to any thinking person this would sound like a good idea and apparently senate Democrats agree with the amendment as well. Why would anyone wish to supplement convicted criminals when we can use that money for those honest law abiding citizens who really need the help? Instead of interviewing Sen. David Vitter (R La.) to get his side of the argument and then propose the counter argument, Mother Jones decided to go straight to the counter-argument. And boy, it’s a doozy.
Mother Jones sites the “non-partisan” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) which states that, “Given incarceration patterns in the United States, the amendment would have a skewed racial impact.” CBPP goes on to say that since this proposal will bar these particular convicted felons from food stamps for life, it will damn people who committed crimes when they were younger. It will also impact the elderly who were convicted of said crimes during the Jim Crowe era in the South. In other words, there are more blacks incarcerated and therefore so any government program that is directed towards criminals receiving fewer benefits is inherently racist.
What I take offense at is organizations like Mother Jones and CBPP hold blacks to such low expectations that they feel comfortable showering us with their racism of pity. When I was a child, my parents instilled in me that I am accountable for my actions. If I broke the law and went to jail, I might as well kiss the good life goodbye because no one would want to deal with an ex con. That kept me on the straight and narrow. I never got anything more than an occasional speeding ticket because I never wanted to have the stigma of being an ex con. Now, black youths can blame racism for their plight and expect the government to solve their problem.
There is no self-accountability because these groups who enable this kind of behavior don’t expect blacks to account for their own actions. That is the brilliance of the racism of pity. In the past a racist would look upon blacks as chattel to be worked as any other animal. Then blacks were looked upon as barbarians that would never be their equal and therefore should be shunned. Now blacks can continue to be looked upon as barbarians. Only this time instead of being shunned; we are to be pitied because we don’t know any better. It’s the same players who are doling out the racism; they just changed the reasoning for doing so.
The sad part of all of this is how many in the black community will see this and not give a moment’s thought at how some of these groups look upon blacks with a sense of pity and self-guilt instead of looking at blacks as an equal citizen of the United States. I know that there are some people will claim that blacks have never been treated as equal citizens. In a way I have to agree. In the past we had no choice but to be treated as less than equal. But now blacks have been accepting the unequal treatment doled out by those who think that the system is holding us down. It’s not the system that holds us down. It’s the ignorance of how the racism of pity has been manipulating us for the past 40 years that’s holding us down. So long as blacks accept the crumbs of pity, nothing will ever change. Our dignity is worth far more than the government handouts they wish to throw our way to encourage the victim status blacks hold. It’s high time we take responsibility for our own actions and block out the voices that try to excuse our bad behavior.