Jac sends this, an interesting essay by Dr. Anthony Iton. The essay says, in part (and though this is a long piece of it, do click on the link; it’s entirely worth your time):
To understand how racism is killing poor whites, you have to understand how racism operates in America. Racism is a system of power that structures opportunity and assigns value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (what we call “race”). Racism is deeply embedded in our country’s core narrative. There are clear echoes of it in the US Constitution, in our national anthem, and even in the public oratory of the so-called Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln.
Narrative shapes policy and policy shapes opportunity. Our national debate repeatedly distinguishes those who deserve health, social, and economic benefits from those who don’t and assigns the undeserving black and brown faces. The welfare queen. Absentee fathers. Anchor babies. This revolving cast of, well, deplorables, is employed to erode popular support for common sense universal policies. This highly racialized narrative undergirds a profound “structural racism”- a set of exclusionary policies around housing, education, employment, and health- that operate synergistically to deprive many low income people of color opportunity and access to the American Dream.
The same narrative that gives rise to structural racism also serves as a powerful barrier to the adoption of common sense universal policies that other developed nations implemented generations ago such as universal health care, paid sick leave, universal child care, subsidized post-secondary education, housing support policies, and robust unemployment protections and retraining programs. In fact, this narrative undermines universal policies by attacking the very role of government itself.
Racism ain’t killing White folk.
It’s a metaphor?
The good doctor does not present it as metaphor. He refers to racism as “key culprit” and the answer to his search for a “root cause” of why White folk seem to be dying at “unprecedented rates.”
I thought it made a good point (and no, it wasn’t a metaphor). I thought he pointed out public health ills that we refuse to address that affect plenty of white folks, but are perceived as affecting strictly communities of color. If we address those ills, we help everyone — including the white folks who are dying at a fast pace.
“Racism bad!” is always a good point to make…well most of the time…or at least some of the time. And while some White folk in some age groups in certain locales do seem to be having a problem with increased mortality due to drug use, suicide, and alcohol related liver disease, there is no verifiable evidence that such an increase is due to “Social Despair” or racism.
Maybe I’m expecting too much. All those bonafides listed after his name? Should produce a more evidence based argument. But I don’t think that was the goal here. Is he addressing social ills? or is he exploiting them for effect. This isn’t science. It’s politics. Identity politics.
Exactly. I think he’s saying when the means of resistance to economic, social, and health programs becomes a resistance against minorities, it becomes a call to racism. And, then all who are in need of the services suffer. And I didn’t think the piece was really meant to explore, in depth, all reasons for rises in drug use, suicide, and alcohol abuse. However, despair and hopelessness are definitely related to those areas. I felt his piece connected dots that are not even seen by some.
I think the good doctor, who just happens to be a lawyer and a scientist, knows exactly what he means when he says things like “root cause” and key culprit.” And he knows exactly what he’s doing by making such a completely baseless and intellectually irresponsible claim.
Racism ain’t killing white folk.
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