In the past month, both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh warned Americans of coming race riots in the streets of our nation. In spite of our boatload of troubles these days Americans would be hard pressed to say that racial tension in the United States is rising or that anything akin to a race riot is likely, unless those on the far right are planning them.
But make no mistake about it, racial minorities, and especially black Americans, are hurting at about twice the rate as white Americans. Latinos and Asians are not all that far behind them. Times are hard. Black unemployment is more than twice that of jobless percentages for white Americans. Black Americans and other minorities face an achievement gap in school where they attend inferior schools with inadequate resources, in neighborhoods with deep poverty and the violence and crime that attend it. Family structure in these communities is more likely to be either badly compromised or non-existent. And a black American, especially if they are males, are more likely to be in prison than have a job before they are even out of their teens.
It is important to realize that despite all these hardships, a large percentage of black Americans have been well-educated, and have achieved and are achieving but the legacy of hundreds of years of racial persecution die hard. Even among the masses of successful black Americans being jobless is still much more likely than their white-collar, white counterparts. And Native-Americans from many tribal nations, once great, now struggle just to be noticed at all.
There is no great boiling cauldron of rioting racial minorities. Nothing appears on the horizon, yet white Americans who are extreme conservatives, and that is the people who listen to and believe the likes of Beck and Limbaugh, and strangely enough even Herman Cain, determined to show being black is no impediment to racial animus to his own people, are convinced that American blacks are brainwashed, that they pose a threat to peace and order, that they prefer to live dependent upon government, and that they no longer retain their loyalty to the United States.
The key to understanding this obsession that is growing among the political right-wing of the nation is the changing racial make up of the United States in the twenty-first century. U.S. Census Bureau statistics from 2010 reveal that 63.7 percent of Americans are white caucasian today. But they predict that no group will be in the majority racially by 2045. In that year the white population will make up something like 48.5% of the total United States population. Since the 2000 Census, Hispanic and Asian Americans increased their numbers by 43 percent, blacks by 11 percent, and whites just 1.2%.
If you define American to mean a white man or woman of Anglo-Saxon heritage you have a right to be frightened. But if you are among the silly group who see no great obstacle to being human no matter what your skin color is and you are comfortable with a diverse, cosmopolitan, richly cultured America of the coming century then you have reason to applaud.
White Americans have never in the nation’s history been anything other than the dominant ruling majority racially. Falling out of that position has socially conservative white Americans feeling distinctly out of their customary racial comfort zones.
Political columnist and pundit Pat Buchanan has written a book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? In an interview on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show this week Buchanan warned that “white America is an endangered species.”
The premise of his book and what is preoccupying Limbaugh and Beck and even Cain and others, is that only White Anglo-Saxon America can make America be the real America and keep our edge as a Superpower.
Yes, Buchanan admits, “minorities are not bad for America” yet he says the nation is “disintegrating” because the white majority population will no longer be in the majority as early as 2041.
Buchanan has said recently that the tendency of blacks to view themselves as African-Americans rather than just simply Americans is also at fault. “What we had then, which was a sense of cultural and social one-ness,” says Buchanan, “we were a people, that I think that is what’s being lost.” Blacks have lost their American identity Buchanan argues, and with it much of their loyalty to the nation. Thus, the nation is coming apart and disintegrating before our eyes.
The dream of “all men are created equal” and that this is a God-given characteristic apparently has not penetrated the brain of Buchanan and all other right-wingers screaming about race riots and the horrible people of color invading the nation and taking it over.
Even Abraham Lincoln, a nineteenth century man of limited racial horizons could understand the nation’s cornerstone principle of liberty and justice and could see a progressive development of race relations as being possible and desirable. Buchanan, Beck, and Limbaugh have a hard time with this. Perhaps in a past life they were all Southern white slaveholders, and followers of John C. Calhoun and Alexander Stephens.
Buchanan believes that blacks under segregation in the 1950’s were not only more united themselves, but helped homogenize America much more.
Translation: The United States in order to remain successful must return to the Ozzie and Harriet 1950’s lily white Suburban America of his youth, where racial minorities were unheard, unseen, and had to deny their distinct racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.
What Buchanan and those among the white conservative Tea Party crowd do not get even at this late date is that a great disadvantage of having one race be the overwhelming dominant majority numbers wise, and to have the centuries old tradition of measuring self-worth and political and economic, social, and group power by the degree of whiteness a person or group has continued to be damaging to Americans of color. Whites suffer too. They have a harder time figuring out what Dr. King called “the content of their character” being most important but that everyone needs to feel good about how they look and how others perceive them.
Up until quite recently historically, for blacks especially, and even Hispanics and Asians too, that was hard to do. It remains a challenge as, after all, well more than six in ten of us are white and traditional modes of perception on skin color continue to influence us in both positive and destructive ways.
Instead of embracing the exciting possibilities for a multi-racial America of the future, where no particular racial or ethnic group dominates and where the new realities will force a change of perception that is distinctly positive, white conservatives long to return to those days when white supremacy was a fact of life nationally and minorities struggled to be perceived as equals.
Buchanan has even suggested that the Supreme Court is too diverse now. Apparently there are no Protestants on the court now for the first time in American history. Most are Catholics and despite the dependable conservatism of Justices Alito and Scalia, Italian-Americans of note, and Thomas and others along with the exotic Justice Sotomayor as an “affirmative action pick” and an “anti-white judicial activist.”
Just what were the seven justices of the Supreme Court who rendered Dred Scott vs Sanford in 1857 or Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896? Pro-white and anti-black haters? That about says it.
Conservative right-wing white America just cannot accept the changing racial and ethnic face of the nation. Even minus illegal or undocumented immigration, whichever term you prefer, legal immigration would be dethroning the white majority well before the end of this century. We are moving to a time when no one is a majority citizen. We all are in a minority group racially will be our future.
Perhaps then, all of us can come to our senses, and take advantage of the rich diversity in the beauty of our skins no matter what hue or shade, and look to our potential as human beings first and to celebrate the cultural riches that are the bequest of American citizenship.