Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Institutionalized Victimhood and Its Effects on Black Americans

 

One day I had a discussion with a man who (I thought) was a good friend. He was an ardent Leftist, and our discussion of politics and racism took a strange turn. When I pointed out that Jews had been discriminated against for centuries (and we’re both Jewish), he was outraged; he said that the Jewish experience couldn’t be compared to the tragedy of slavery. When I asked him, why not, he couldn’t answer me.

In another discussion, he was describing black people as victims and said we needed to acknowledge that fact. When I asked him how it benefited blacks if we acknowledged and treated them as victims, once again he couldn’t answer. We never discussed discrimination again.

Although some black people rely on the history of slavery in this country as a way to criticize and discount those who are not black, they actually entrap themselves and separate themselves from the rest of us. I wanted to take a look at their arguments and explore another way to look at racism and discrimination. My hope is to point out that all of us, blacks and whites, have a great deal in common.

First, it’s helpful to clarify racism and discrimination. Racism is a subset of discrimination:

The belief that one’s own culture and race is far superior to others, and treating members of other races as inferior is called racism. The most famous form of racism the world ever saw resulted in the holocaust or killings of hundreds of thousands of Jews by Nazis during the Second World War in Germany. If one looks in the dictionary, it defines racism as a belief that the abilities and characteristics of other races are inferior to one’s own.

Although technically Judaism is not a race, it has historically been treated as one. I suspect that many people would not consider treatment of Jews as racist, nor would they consider Jews as victims of institutional racism in these times.

Discrimination is a broader term that includes racism:

Treatment of people based upon their gender, race, community, color of skin, facial features, height, or even their voice is referred to as discrimination. For example, stereotyping all people of Hispanic origin and having a biased attitude towards them is a classic example of discrimination based on racial affinities. The word discrimination was mostly used in the American Civil war for the practice of prejudicial treatment of blacks by whites.

Besides racism and discrimination, it’s also helpful to look at the leftist explanation of our society perpetuating racism and discrimination. One explanation is that blacks can’t be racist because they don’t have the means to establish or institutionalize racism. There are two weaknesses (at least) to this argument: (1) that racism is still “institutionalized” in this country; and (2) that one needs the ability to institutionalize racism to be a racist.

Although all of us detest the existence of racism in the past, it’s unclear what institutions exist to perpetuate it. Also, I don’t understand the “rationale” that one can only be a racist if one has the ability to create institutional norms of racism. That is not to say that racism and discrimination do not exist in this country; they do exist and they likely always will. But it is tragic that some in the black community rely on a myth of racism to show, in effect, that they are incapable of being racists:

Minority ‘racism’ stems from personal experiences and daily interactions with racist white people. It was not a liberal education or soft schooling that taught blacks and other minorities about racism—it was our interactions with institutional and personal racism.

We are at a large disadvantage, and when we choose to voice our opposition to the injustices our people face, we are deemed racist or ‘professional victims.’ The only way someone could become a ‘professional victim’ is if they are continuously put into a position where they are mistreated. We are victims because America has made us so—not out of personal choice.

So many in black America choose to wear the victim’s mantle and don’t realize they have trapped themselves in their stories of hurt and unfairness.

To help combat this entrapment and mindset, I suggest we reframe the meaning of discrimination. Blacks are not the only ones who experience it: all of us have experienced discrimination. It isn’t pleasant and it’s often unfair, but discrimination is a part of everyday life; it is something everyone can relate to. We can either trap ourselves in that reality, or we can rise above it.

I’ve known discrimination. I’ve been called a dirty Jew. I’m quite sure that I lost work as a consultant because the manager didn’t want to work with a woman; I was told by a casual friend that I should sue for discrimination. I asked her, why would I want to force someone to work with me who didn’t want to work with me? She didn’t have an answer.

Discrimination occurs in a multitude of ways: you are judged by your name, appearance, background, experience (or lack thereof); your accent, physical size or clothing; your facial features, presence (or lack of presence). The ways to discriminate are endless.

So, if I had the opportunity, I imagine having a conversation with a black person who might be open to a discussion regarding this post and the following premise:

Everyone — no matter what race, creed, color or religion — discriminates towards others and is subject to discrimination. Sometimes it’s legitimate, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it seems fair, sometimes it’s not. You have the choice of how you practice discrimination towards others and how you react to being discriminated against. You can be thoughtful when you use discrimination in your decisions, or you can be foolish; you can respond as a victim when someone is blatantly discriminatory toward you, or you can be direct and resilient in your response. That choice does not rest with others or the outside world.

It rests with you.

One last point. Many of you will say that most black people won’t want to have this discussion, that they will discount it and attack it. That is possible, maybe even likely. But if we speak the truth, consistently, empathically and sincerely, we may begin to make a dent in the debilitating narrative of discrimination, and the dishonest rhetoric of the Left. Then we can all appreciate the challenges of the human condition, together.

There are 17 comments.

  1. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn: (Quoting this link) “The only way someone could become a ‘professional victim’ is if they are continuously put into a position where they are mistreated.”

    Um, no. Professional victims are created when chooses victim-hood in order to gain advantages they couldn’t gain legitimately, ultimately those advantages devolve to some economic benefit.

    Professional victims need only have a marketing platform to sell their victim status to the populace at large.

    Direct mistreatment is superfluous, see Toure’ for example. Professional victim – not perpetually victimized.

    • #1
    • July 4, 2018, at 3:44 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: (Quoting this link) “The only way someone could become a ‘professional victim’ is if they are continuously put into a position where they are mistreated.”

    Um, no. Professional victims are created when chooses victim-hood in order to gain advantages they couldn’t gain legitimately, ultimately those advantages devolve to some economic benefit.

    Professional victims need only have a marketing platform to sell their victim status to the populace at large.

    Direct mistreatment is superfluous, see Toure’ for example. Professional victim – not perpetually victimized.

    Works for me, @instugator. There are some who would have too much to lose, but not all blacks are motivated for the benefits they get; I know some of them. The “professionals” that you describe wouldn’t be interested in giving up their victimhood or in having a conversation with me.

    • #2
    • July 4, 2018, at 3:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. KentForrester Moderator

    Susan, rational discussions of racism, like yours, are always welcome. 

    You’ve been called a dirty Jew? Wow! Did you laugh in his face? You should have. Or perhaps you might have replied, “I thought Neanderthals like you died out awhile back.”

    • #3
    • July 4, 2018, at 3:58 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Kephalithos Member

    Susan Quinn: One explanation is that blacks can’t be racist because they don’t have the means to establish or institutionalize racism. There are two weaknesses (at least) to this argument: (1) that racism is still “institutionalized” in this country; and (2) that one needs the ability to institutionalize racism to be a racist. . . . I don’t understand the “rationale” that one can only be a racist if one has the ability to create institutional norms of racism.

    This isn’t merely a weakness. It’s a fatal flaw.

    Can individuals regard themselves as superior for racial reasons? Why, yes. Yes, they can. And so, blacks are every bit as capable of racist behavior as are whites. (Heck, the very existence of the term “institutionalized racism” suggests that racism can be non-institutionalized!)

    The only way to avoid conceding this argument is to stretch the definition of “racism” to the point of absurdity — to the point where “racism” means little more than “being white.” But, if racism is nothing more than being white, what’s the harm in racism? Can racism truly be described as a great evil?

    If lynching a black man is an example of racism, and eating hot dogs with a black man at a baseball game is also an example of racism, then “racism” means nothing at all.

    • #4
    • July 4, 2018, at 4:00 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, rational discussions of racism, like yours, are always welcome.

    You’ve been called a dirty Jew? Wow! Did you laugh in his face? You should have. Or perhaps you might have replied, “I thought Neanderthals like you died out awhile back.”

    Actually I was about 11 years old the first time. I beat at kid at tetherball. The second time I was chosen to be a narrator at a fashion show–I was about 14–and the person who lost called me a dirty Jew. Both times I was so stunned–it was over such petty stuff–that I had nothing to say.

    Thanks for the kind words for discussing racism, @kentforrester.

    • #5
    • July 4, 2018, at 4:07 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Christopher Riley (View Comment):
    Can individuals regard themselves as superior for racial reasons? Why, yes. Yes, they can. And so, blacks are every bit as capable of racist behavior as are whites. (Heck, the very existence of the term “institutionalized racism” suggests that racism can be non-institutionalized!)

    You and I completely agree, @christopherriley. (I hope that was obvious!) That viewpoint may be a fatal flaw. I don’t expect to have this kind of rational discussion with just anyone, although I’m thinking of pursuing it. Just thinking about it for now.

    • #6
    • July 4, 2018, at 4:10 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Related: Here’s a post re a professor who is upset about Hispanic students who credit their success to their own resilience and hard work rather than to affirmative action.

     

    https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11091

     

    • #7
    • July 4, 2018, at 4:11 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Related: Here’s a post re a professor who is upset about Hispanic students who credit their success to their own resilience and hard work rather than to affirmative action.

     

    https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11091

     

    An excellent link, @davidfoster! Although I’m still trying to get my mind around the premise:

    Maria Isabel Ayala interviewed 50 Latino(a) students at Midwestern University, and was dismayed to find that they attribute their success to hard work and self-reliance while shunning affirmative action.

    This is completely crazy–not the students, the expectations!
    • #8
    • July 4, 2018, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Kephalithos Member

    This seems to be a trend among the social-justice left — academics latch onto an actual grievance or injustice, shoehorn it into some needlessly complex Marxist–Foucauldian social theory, redefine it in a grotesque and inflated way, and then assume that the grievance, thus transformed, carries exactly the same moral weight as it did before. What’s the result? A complete lack of proportion between the supposed injustice and the response it generates.

    The free-speech debate is a case in point. Someone, somewhere decided that, because speech can create stress, speech can also function as violence. And how do people threatened with violence respond? Well, violently — in the form of self-defense. Acts of defensive violence, then, are perfectly reasonable responses to the threat which is speech.

    This reasoning is ludicrous, of course. But it’s the result of trying to square a philosophical circle

    • #9
    • July 4, 2018, at 4:24 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Kephalithos Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment): You and I completely agree, @christopherriley. (I hope that was obvious!)

    Oh, I know. It was obvious.

    Your piece is great! Some of the passages you quote? Not so much.

    • #10
    • July 4, 2018, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Christopher Riley (View Comment):
    This reasoning is ludicrous, of course. But it’s the result of trying to square a metaphysical circle.

    Unfortunately I’m not capable of winding my brain into a pretzel to get there. Don’t these people have something better to do.

    • #11
    • July 4, 2018, at 5:09 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Christopher Riley (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment): You and I completely agree, @christopherriley. (I hope that was obvious!)

    Oh, I know. It was obvious.

    Your piece is great! Some of the passages you quote? Not so much.

    You do also know that was my point. Their reasoning makes no sense, but they fervently believe it. I know it’s highly unlikely that I could show them the irrationality of their way.s (I tried to do so with a lovely black couple with whom I’m friends and got nowhere, although my intention was just to learn their views, not change their minds.) It is too much a part of their identity–one could even say, of their narrative. It’s disturbing to me.

    • #12
    • July 4, 2018, at 5:12 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. toggle Inactive

    Susan Quinn:

    the holocaust or killings of hundreds of thousands of Jews by Nazis during the Second World War in Germany.

    The other millions of holocaust murders took place not “in” Germany ? Or, by the hand of Germans ? Or areas occupied by Germany ?

    “Map of the Holocaust in occupied Poland during World War II. The outline shows the borders of the Second Polish Republic at the time of the Nazi-German-and-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 with demarcation line between the two invading armies marked in red. Internal boundaries show the administrative divisions of occupied territories imposed by Nazi Germany when the Final Solution was set in motion during and after Operation Barbarossa of 1941.

    This map shows all Nazi German extermination camps (or death camps), as well as prominent concentration, labour and prison camps, major pre-WW2 Polish cities with the new Jewish ghettos set up by Nazi Germany, major deportation routes, and major massacre sites.”

    Notice the extermination camps located in the Germany side of the red line (“Sites of mass shootings into remote ravines – marked with white skulls – include Bronna Góra, Ponary and others. They were utilized during the ‘Holocaust by bullets’.)

    Now, let’s look at the map of world slave trade, past and present (nevermind).

    Back here in 2018 America, suggest that the victimhood today not only insult victims, they suffer most from their own emotions, their opportunistic enablers, and obesity.

    • #13
    • July 4, 2018, at 5:31 PM PDT
    • Like
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    toggle (View Comment):
    The other millions of holocaust murders took place not “in” Germany ? Or, by the hand of Germans ? Or areas occupied by Germany ?

    @toggle, you are welcome to re-word it as you wish; you are correct in that it was a poorly worded sentence. I didn’t modify the quotation.

    toggle (View Comment):
    Back here in 2018 America, suggest that the victimhood today not only insult victims, they suffer most from their own emotions, their opportunistic enablers, and obesity.

    I agree with your first two points, but I’m not familiar with the obesity numbers within the black population, and I’m not sure it relates to this discussion. Thanks for your comment.

    • #14
    • July 4, 2018, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. I Walton Member

    As we centralize government’s control of the economy, being a favored or unfavored group becomes critical. That’s the source of genocide in countries that combine socialism with tribalism (or former eastern Europe) in Africa and why identity politics is promoted by Democrats. Free markets in contrast harm those who discriminate against others and is why Democrats are against free markets. People dislike others for lots of reasons but a bargain or a good worker that costs less will usually overcome such prejudice.

    • #15
    • July 5, 2018, at 3:40 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I agree with your first two points, but I’m not familiar with the obesity numbers within the black population, and I’m not sure it relates to this discussion.

    Part of the victimhood narrative is that the poor are disproportionately affected by poor health choices like obesity – but the victims claim it is the system and not the behavior of those affected that cause it.

    Isn’t America wonderful – the only place in the world where the poor are fat.

    • #16
    • July 6, 2018, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I agree with your first two points, but I’m not familiar with the obesity numbers within the black population, and I’m not sure it relates to this discussion.

    Part of the victimhood narrative is that the poor are disproportionately affected by poor health choices like obesity – but the victims claim it is the system and not the behavior of those affected that cause it.

    Isn’t America wonderful – the only place in the world where the poor are fat.

    Thanks for clarifying, @instugator. Yes, I recall the argument is that they pick fattening foods because the fresh stuff is so expensive–another myth.

    • #17
    • July 6, 2018, at 9:04 AM PDT
    • Like