It’s the economy, stupid.

I don’t really like calling people names like “stupid” but the title was too much too resist. My apologies.

I was discussing the gentrification of Baltimore recently online. I understand concerns about urban gentrification and I partly agree with them. I can certainly understand wanting to keep neighborhoods in the hands of neighbors, not gianormous corporations and urban planning bureaucrats trying to utilize Eminent Domain to kick people out of their homes.

Part of our discussion centered, and others I’ve had, with the systematic racism of Baltimore in particular. It got me thinking about racism more, a topic which most of you know I could really care less about.

I was thinking about the illegal South American immigrants here in the states that are causing such a stir. Group A says that South Americans don’t speak english, don’t pay taxes, suck up government funds, and steal American jobs. Group B says that there is an oppressed group of people and Group A consists of racist rednecks.

Neither group addresses the other group’s concerns as having any merit and they argue with each-other by trying to prove their own grivences. Debate 101, people.

Notice that Group A’s gripes are almost entirely economic in nature. You could perhaps say that not speaking english is a concern dealing with race, there is probably a good bit of truth in it; but all other concerns are economic, not racial. The affect of this appears as hostility toward a race and it will become so (More on this in a minute). Meanwhile, Group B shouts “racism” with little evidence, nor does shouting names really do anything to solve the problem. You won’t find middle ground by starting conversations with cheap insults.

Whether the groups are Whites against Native Americans (land/resources), Whites against Blacks (slave issues/jobs/equal pay), Blacks against Asians (stores in black neighborhoods), Blacks against African-born blacks (overall snootyness), Blacks against Whites (Reparations/Social Welfare/Housing/Jobs)………all of this stuff has deep roots mounted in issues of economic equality. Yes, from time to time there are issues outside of economic ones, I won’t deny that. But economic equality seems to quell much of all this distress.

When the government denies groups of people economic opportunity (blacks) or when they abuse certain groups for resources so others can have them (taxpayers & illegals) you breed animosity. We have the luxery of doing this for nearly 500 years so you’d think we’d learn. Instead we dole out resources to non-taxpayers from taxpayers………then we add in a racial component (South Americans) and we’ve whipped up what we got: Economic unfairness puppeted by the state, which won’t do anything about the situation, in effect breeding racism (or scapegoating, a more proactive word) because we are giving perceived advantages to one group over another. Duh.

Is it really racism? Or is it something else……..something to do with money, employment, jobs, economic stability? Is it that we hate people because of skin color or maybe it’s easier to boil down our economic frustrations and blame someone we can point at.

Sight is man’s greatest strength. We rely on it more than any other sense. And when we are feeling down emotionally, depressed, saddened, frustrated………often our sight is what causes it. Could ethnicity be the scapegoat that we seek out when the shit hits the fan because we see it and it resonates with us to begin placing blame with our most valuable sense?

Am I blurring the lines between racism and economic freedom? Perhaps. Maybe it’s tough to tell where one ends and another begins. But I bet that if we could begin to develop economic opportunity you’d see less animosity between people. Instead we seem to truely believe that racism is rooted in how one perceives another’s skin tone. I don’t buy it.

I wanted to also discuss the affects of gentrification and money expenditures in Baltimore city but I expounded for far too long on race so I’ll leave it at this for the moment.

Comments (5)

  1. SteveK

    I agree that racism is sometimes a non sequitor. Yes, there are still real race issues that need to be dealt with, but if all we see is one issue, then we are not going to get to the full truth of the source– or solution– to any of the complex issues we have.

    Yes, economics is certainly an issue. So is blatant prejudice. But, more often than not, what people are complaining about is a difference in culture, in worldview, in how we see reality.

    Economics is one issue. Group A wants to maintain a certain lifestyle, while Group B wants to get just a taste of the lifestyle of the other. These two goals cannot both be reached. Since Group A has the power, they want to take the opportunity away from Group B to reach their goals.

    But I think that English isn’t a problem with economics, but culture. Group A wants to maintain the culture they grew up with, while some of Group B cannot learn the culture of Group A (and they probably wouldn’t want to even if they could).

    This is always the problem of the poor and outcast. They either have to surrender their culture and worldview and overcome their limitations or they will be denied a new and better life.

    How is it that we can get Group A and B to talk instead of throwing stones at each other?

    Steve K

  2. Skylark

    I’m a little confused by this line, somasoul: “Instead we dole out resources to non-taxpayers from taxpayers………then we add in a racial component (South Americans)…”

    Who are you saying are the non-taxpayers, and who are the taxpayers? Are you familiar with the ITIN, and do you know how much money is contributed to the IRS by people using ITINs, and how much money is spent within the US by the US government to benefit people who do not pay taxes? And we really should be clear about who the non-taxpayers are, because the vast majority of all children do not pay any taxes, and vast amounts of money is put toward them.

    FYI, Mexico and Central America are not part of South America. Just thought I’d clear that up. :)

  3. somasoul

    Skylark, you’re right about all those things. I was speaking of perceived realities. For instance, in my example Group A says that the South American Immigrants do not pay taxes. This may or may not be true, but it is perceived to be true, and that’s good enough. Likewise, Mexico isn’t in South America but many people perceive it to be (In fact, Mexico is often part of North America now and central America is pretty much non-existant.) Plus we have illegals from everywhere below our southern border and it’s easier to say “South American Immigrants” than Immigrants from North American, Central America, and South America.”

    This is all semantics really. Just roll with me a little bit.

    And, yes, children also get our tax dollars. This is a complaint. Illegals come here, have kids or bring them, and we school them, house them, WIC them, feed them, medicate them…….all on the government dime. That’s a realistic complaint. A guy who has worked 40 years of his life has the right, in my opinion, to say: “How come these non-taxpaying, non-citizen, non-english speaking people get handouts from me?”

    He has a point, has he not? Does it sound like bigoted hatred or does it sound like a reasonable gripe about a system that favors one group over another? (Even if the gripe isn’t real but is perceived then the perception needs to be addressed)

    How do we bridge that gap?

  4. Skylark

    I was referring to ALL children. All children cost more money than they make. All children get hand-outs. (By the way, any guesses on what percentage of undocumented immigrants bring children/have children once in the U.S., compared to the overall population?)

    Before someone starts complaining about “my tax money going to so-and-so,” it is wise to research how much undocumented immigrants contribute to the tax base and how much is taken out. Without actual numbers, how would anyone know whether a group of people are taking out more than they are putting in? Whether the money that group puts in is diverted elsewhere… like to Iraq… is something to take up with your Congressional representative.

    The collective phrase you may be looking for is “Latin America.”

    Someone who has worked 40 years in the U.S. has lived long enough to do a little research into how his/her life has benefited materially by the involvement of the U.S. military, CIA, and U.S.-run companies in Latin America. The issue does not start where some think it does, with people crossing U.S. borders and overstaying U.S. visas. It goes much further back. If someone thinks a banana republic is just a brand name of clothing, I suggest they spend the next 40 years educating themselves.

  5. somasoul

    “I was referring to ALL children. All children cost more money than they make. All children get hand-outs.”

    People realize this. I think they are thinking: “We have poor schools and no universal healthcare for our children, why do these immigrants seem to get stuff out of our system?”

    That’s a legit question. Whether it’s true or not is another matter.

    “Without actual numbers, how would anyone know whether a group of people are taking out more than they are putting in?”

    I think it’s safe to say that Latin Americans appear to be financially lower-class. The lower class doesn’t contribute what they put in. I think it’s safe to say that those who cross borders illegally are nearly universally lower class, thus illegal immigrants are a drain on the middle class. (So are other lower-wage earners but I won’t delve into that right now.)

    “The issue does not start where some think it does, with people crossing U.S. borders and overstaying U.S. visas.”

    Sure. But that, my friend, is another topic altogether.

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