The Myth of a Post-Racial America

“Recent Elections Reaffirm Racial and Ethnic Politics”
Jeff Schechtman interviews Paul Kivel for Who. What. Why

Photo credit: Johnny Silvercloud / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ten years ago people actually talked about Americans living in a post-racial society. Not only did that not happen, but the US has moved even further from that ideal. If anything, the moral arc of racial justice has moved in the wrong direction.The racial divide evident in this week’s election results showed that identity politics is still alive.In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Jeff Schechtman talks to Paul Kivel, social justice activist and nationally and internationally recognized anti-racism educator.

Kivel explains that when we talk about race, we tend to talk about individual acts of racism. But he sees that discussion as just a cover for the systemic racism that begins with a stolen land, continues with the slavery and exploitation of labor that built this country, and that still drives large sectors of its economy.

The US has a race-based culture, he says, that is reinforced every day, in jobs, housing, the criminal justice system, and education. The problem is, because white people mostly deny it, they have never developed the lens to really see racism. Thus denial and minimization become the default policy.

Recent polls show that the majority of whites don’t see race as even a top ten problem. There’s a belief that if it is going on, it’s “not in my community.” Yet this week we saw election results that showed that the polarization and homogeneity among racial groups is stronger than ever. Can this ever change?

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