Skip to main content

For decades people have used the phrase “playing the race card” to end conversations about our nation’s racial caste system.

What they probably didn’t realize was that the phrase offered an unspoken admission that racial grievances, in many cases, had virtually no equal and virtually no answer. There is no carry on this card.

But to testify to the determination of those who are committed to protecting the privilege of the dominant caste, the “and my right to oppress you?” The crowd tries. Members of the upper castes who control federal courts, the US Supreme Court, and most state legislatures are simply claiming what they covet: grievances. Let’s call it the urge to grievance.

Specifically, the urge to grievance involves upper caste non-victims – or at least non-victims of how America has victimized black people – asserting victim status for transgressions that are at best. considered as annoyance or inconvenience.

Why try this? Simple. Political strategists have long advocated attacking your opponent’s greatest perceived strength.

Chase Billingham, associate professor of sociology at Wichita State University, said it was reminiscent of a cynical debate strategy, an “all lives matter” response to “Black Lives Matter”.

“See the success of the civil rights movement and think, ‘How can I emulate this,’” Billingham said. “If I can adopt this posture, I could be successful. “

From crowds descending at school board meetings denouncing the need for emergency public safety measures during a pandemic, to hysteria surrounding the possibility of students learning the ugliest details of our racial past, claims absurd continue to surface.

During a recent discussion in Wichita over a draft nondiscrimination ordinance, faith-based organizations hinted that the protected class provisions could somehow diminish religious rights – as if rights were pizza. If you get more, I sort of get less.

Conservative Christians remain one of the most powerful lobbies in this country. These people are not oppressed, and this behavior is not exactly Christian either. James 3:16 says, “For where envy and strife are, there is confusion and all evil work. “

Imagine a life so comfortable, safe and privileged that a request to wear a mask, get vaccinated, or learn more about American history is considered an outrage.

Imagine also the emptiness of such protests from the point of view of lower caste Americans who have seen people like them killed for selling CDs, bulk cigarettes or forging a fake bill.

After a bomb killed four little black girls at their church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, for example, the mother of one of the girls arrived to identify her child’s body. The mother recalled in Spike Lee’s documentary “Four Little Girls” that the white woman who recorded her called her “gal”.

In her worst moment – every parent’s nightmare – the mother of a dead child could not be granted any kindness outside of the norms of the caste system. Fortunately, most black Americans did not have to endure the same tragedy, but we are often reminded, as this mother was, of our lower caste status.

It’s a grievance.

However, losing a well-organized election is not the case. This probably did not happen to those who defecated in the capital on January 6.

Are people abusing grievances? Yes.

Is this the only type of grievance? Of course not.

By the way, this behavior is also not limited to upper caste conservatives. Upper caste progressives do it too.

The so-called “awakened” also claim to stand where they have none, creeping into the culture war as lawyers claiming grievances on behalf of others. Some even have the audacity to lecture black people about racism.

What is the answer? Justice. There is no grievance without injustice. If we don’t begin to tackle our deep and intimidating social issues, we will continue to compare atrocities and reduce real and painful grievances to mere commodity. All of this only develops a culture of victimization.

Think about it the next time you hear about the ‘Christmas War’ or see someone in a $ 60,000 pickup with a ‘don’t tread on me’ Gadsen flag, or when someone one talks about the horrors of a previous presidential administration trying to extend healthcare to more Americans.

Remind them that the urge to grievance has its time, but that it is not cute, chic, or moral.

It’s a lie, it’s appropriation, and while it’s not a card game, we certainly are all losers because of it.