Skip to content
payday

Complexions

This is another one of these “commentary” category pieces which I suspect pushes the envelope of my intention to make Explorations an “aggressively non-political” blog. None the less, my intention is not political, at least in the sense that I don’t intent to make a position for either political party, and don’t accept the usual distinctions between “conservative” and “liberal” in politics in any case. What I want to explore, here, is not politics so much as political logic, or the lack thereof.

A commenter at Volokh says:

However, many of us moderates or slightly-left-of-moderates find it curious that on every issue pertaining to race, conservatives side with the preferred viewpoint of the racial majority over the preferred viewpoint of the racial minority. Of course it could be a coincidence–and for most conservatives I believe it is–but it is nonetheless remarkable.

and later…

I want to clarify my point a little bit. The majority of conservatives are honest, kind individuals. However, it is curious that on almost every political issue related to race their view can be used to keep the racial majority in power. Is that really very controversial to suggest?

Controversial? No. Mistaken, and suggesting a really pernicious and deep-seated bias? Yes. Absurd if considered closely? Absolutely.

Consider the contrapositive: if there is something questionable about this notion that “every political position relating to race can be used to keep the racial majority in power” then it suggests that a more appropriate position would be one in which, on every question relating to race, one’s position ought to lead to the assumption of power by a racial minority.

Now contrast that with taking the position that everyone ought to be equally entitled to power irrespective of race. Such a post-racial nirvana would, in all probability, result in a majority of the positions of political power being held by members of the majority race — or rather, if you can imagine it, of the number of people who happen to have very dark complexions who have political success being about the same as the general population of their particular constituency, while also having occasional particular individuals who don’t match the makeup of their particular constituency. (This could be stated more precisely in statistical terms, but I’ll resist the siren song of mathematics for now.)

Imagine if, in some parallel universe, we made our “racial” construct based on RhD antigen blood type instead of melanocyte distribution and activity. A person from that universe, given sudden visibility into ours, might find it wonderful and strange that we have as many members of the Rh negative “race” in political power as we do, but observe that most of our political processes still result in most political power being held by the Rh positive “race”, and find that suggestive of continuing deep-seated racism. What’s more, no political system other than one that especially privileged people of the Rh negative “race” could possibly have any other appearance — to a person from that parallel universe.

I don’t deny that racism has had, and probably still has, an influence on political power — although I’m not at all sure that I believe the influence is always to the advantage of the majority “race”. But I think it’s worth asking, every so often, if we would recognize what a really “post-racial” society would look like. I suggest the really liberating, and liberal, position would be to strive to see no more political significance in melanocyte activity than we see in RhD antigens.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.