By Jesmarie Disdiel
Race and wealth and income inequality go hand in hand. People discuss how minorities get the short end of the stick; that they don’t get far because the system has been set up that way. There are also all the stereotypes that follow minorities, for example that African-Americans and Mexicans are lazy, or,they take all the low-wage jobs. We consistently hear that it is poor people that are bringing down the economy, that it is their entire fault. What about white people? Do they have no fault in how the economy is today?
Tim Wise put it as the “Whiteness System of Thought.” White people, and this is a generalization, are somewhat willfully ignorant to what is going on around them. Many of them believe that it is minorities causing problems in the economy, but that is not true. The “problem is economy predicated on low wages,” said Wise at CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10. Rich companies give low wages to employees who are then forced to rely on SNAP, funded by taxes. It is a never-ending cycle, and it is those (primarily white) CEOs who allow it to continue.
White people are ignorant to the facts and history that African-Americans know all too well. African-Americans understand the system, while white people may not. The system sets up minorities to fail and for white people to succeed. There is no such thing as actual “privilege.” It is a made-up notion that white people, or the majority of a culture, have more claim to anything than those they deem below them. They believe they deserve better because they “are better”.
However, there exists both true ignorance and willful ignorance, which is choosing to ignore what is going on in the world. All the facts and information can be laid right out in front of someone, but they can still choose to ignore because it is better to ignore the ugly than to acknowledge it. For example, it is a fact that White people commit more crimes a year than African-Americans. The numbers exist. Yet, instead of believing the numbers or doing their own research, White people make the assumption that it is only minorities who commit crimes, and since this is all that is reported in the news, a racial bias and stereotype is created. If more White people were sent to prison and more reports of White crime were released, maybe people would begin to fear White people more than minorities.
It is everyone’s responsibility to self-educate and learn the truth of what is going on in the world. Following and believing in the system and trusting that what they see in the media is true, just creates ignorance. Staying neutral brings you down the same old beaten path, not inspiring any new thought or revelation. No one race is responsible for wealth and income inequality, but a whole government or system can be. That’s truth.