It makes sense that White people use completely illogical arguments to derail conversations about racism, because the current racial hierarchy reinforces White dominance and “White privilege”– so they benefit from it. What makes absolutely no sense is large swaths of Black people co-opting illogical and fallacious claims that reinforce stereotypes and the system of racism that threatens Black, and thus their own advancement.
This happens because Black people are not spared of the propaganda used to justify, excuse and even enable racism and White supremacy. Many have internalized these notions, reinforcing self-hate/ Black hate and readily spew these beliefs when discussions about race or racism arise. This undermines our struggle and history in a way so deeply troublesome and destructive to the Black psyche and Black community. For that reason, it is incredibly important to challenge such misinformation and provide both accurate and historical explanations for the current state of the Black community.
Here are some counterarguments to the most pervasive and disturbing arguments raised by Black people in support of racism and White supremacy.
1. “If Black people did not sag their pants or dress ‘ghetto’, they’d be treated differently.”
Black people have been terrorized, brutalized, discriminated against and disenfranchised despite their attire.
2. “It is not about race, it is about class.” The socio-political and economic foundations of this country have created an inextricable link between both class and race. It cannot be forgotten that large numbers of White businessmen generated massive amounts of wealth from free Black labor. At the country’s inception, wealthy business owners and political leaders set in place legislation to disenfranchise Black people, so systematically that the Black community is still rife with an unshakable poverty.
3. “Let’s not talk about the past, slavery is over.” The past has tremendous effects on the present and future. So much so that just about every Fortune 500 company was founded during slavery, right after emancipation or has ties to that time. Wal-Mart, America’s highest earning Fortune 500 company, was established with wealth generated during the time of slavery when Black people had no rights. The same could be said for almost every company on that list in 2014. This means that America’s biggest and most wealthiest businesses were formed in the past, yet still hold massive amounts of wealth and power in the present. This speaks to the massive wealth gap between Black and White families, which is estimated at a staggering $100,000.
4. “What’s keeping Black people down is talking about race/racism.” Whether racism is discussed, or not, it still exists. If all slaves were mute, would slavery have disappeared?
5. “Black people need to stop being lazy and living off of welfare.” The largest recipients of welfare in the United States are White people. Stereotypes the “welfare queen” were created and used as political propaganda by White elites to scare poorer Whites and dismantle social welfare programs (that they largely benefit from). Still, to this day, despite the large numbers of White people on welfare, it is still thought of as a “Black thing.” The Black unemployment rate is two times that of its White counterpart due to discrimination and lack of access to resources/education, yet 39.8 percent of Blacks receive welfare, comparable to the 38.8 percent of the White population that also receives welfare.
The majority of Black people are not recipients of welfare and are indeed employed. Even fewer individuals are dependent on welfare, because it is nearly impossible to be. President Clinton reformed the United State’s welfare program back in 1996 with a piece of legislation called the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” that imposed a five-year limitation on cash payouts to the poor and created additional requirements in order to qualify as a recipient, including proof of employment search.