White Denial vs. Black Middle-Class Realities

The Huffington Post's David J. Leonard offers "the denial crowd" insights on racial inequalities in the realms of wealth and employment.

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At the Huffington Post, David J. Leonard offers "the denial crowd" insights on racial inequalities in the realms of wealth and employment.

The denial of racism is an obsession of white America. In what has become a holy trinity of sorts -- accusing others of playing the "race card;" noting the election of Barack Obama; and citing the success of the black middle class and/or the black elite -- the denial of racism and the demonization of those who demand that America fulfill its creed of equality plagues contemporary racial discussions. It is a rarity to witness a conversation about race, whereupon this holy trinity isn't deployed, derailing the conversation before it even begins. Whether highlighting segregation or inequality in access to education, health care, or countless institutions, whether noting the realities of stop-and-frisk or daily confrontations with American racism, the response is often the same: denial, denial, denial.

In an effort to have an honest conversation and to push the conversation beyond this myopic fantasy, I thought I would give the denial crowd some facts. This is for those who like to cite the black middle class as evidence of a post-racial America; this is for those who cite the black middle class (likely never having a meaningful conversation with a person of color of any class status) as evidence that poverty rates, incarceration rates, educational inequality or health disparities is the result of faulty values or a poor work ethic. This is my response to those who dismiss the injustice and inequality endured by poor communities of color -- the working poor -- by noting the purported American Dream experienced by the black middle-class. For all of them, here is a little dose of reality ...

Read David J. Leonard's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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David J. Leonard is an associate professor in the department of critical culture, gender and race studies at Washington State University, Pullman.

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