Was Tim Scott Right When He Said 'America Is Not a Racist Country'? An Investigation

Illustration for article titled Was Tim Scott Right When He Said 'America Is Not a Racist Country'? An Investigation
Screenshot: NBC News

I’m part of the liberal media.

That’s right, I’m all of the things Fox News and the Daily Caller warns white people about. I’m a “leftist” who works part-time as a member of the “woke mob” installing our “radical agenda.” I’ve been called a Marxist, a “reverse racist” and, in my finest hour, a “race-baiter.” I’m proud of it all. I wear it as a badge of honor because I know there’s one insult they never hurl in The Root’s direction:

A liar.

Fox News lies. Conservative outlets routinely make shit up to get their viewers’ panties in a bunch about noncompliant negroes. But, even with our liberal, leftist, radical agenda, The Root doesn’t have to make shit up. It’s quite possible to tell the truth, be fair and show the insanity of right-wing hypocrisy.

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Take Tim Scott, for instance.

The Root, and Black people in general, don’t hate Tim Scott for his conservatism. We all have a Tim Scott in our families. For nearly a decade, starting before he became a senator, The Root has covered the GOP’s lone Black senator. We have pushed for his Walter Scott Notification Act for years. We have actually interviewed him about it. And, as a left-leaning but fair outlet run by Black people for Black people, we have never shied away from calling Scott out for engaging in what-the-fuckery. That’s the literal definition of “fair and balanced.”

So, when Scott gave his response to President Joe Biden’s address to Congress on Wednesday, I may have been the least-stunned person in America when Tim Scott said “America is not a racist country.”

My level-headed acceptance of this whitesplainery had nothing to do with Tim Scott being a sellout or—as he said people call him—an “Uncle Tom.” It was because Tim Scott has said this before. I was unbothered because I have personally asked Tim Scott if he believes America is racist, to which he replied:

“I’m not a philosopher so I don’t sit back and think through these definitions as much as others do,” Scott told The Root. “There’s racism in America and I do not think we are a racist country. I think there are racial outcomes in policing, even though I don’t think police by and large are racist. I think that we have pockets of racism within the police departments, but I think most people who become cops do so for the right reasons.”

...

“I just want to find a way to create a better outcome for my nephew and my cousins, who are 3 and 4 years old, don’t have to worry about systemic, systematic or whatever you guys call the crap that you and I have to worry about,” Scott explained, adding

“I’m far more interested in improving the outcomes of people that look like me because I was black before I got to the Senate and I’m going to be black after I leave the Senate.”

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But this article is not about Tim Scott or The Root’s coverage of him. This article is about what Tim Scott said. We wanted to know if there is any validity to his argument. If America is indeed not a racist country, surely there’d be a way to quantify it.

So we checked.


We wanted to do this objectively, using quantifiable data and information, so we checked five categories to measure the political, social and economic impact of racism in America. But first, we had to get one thing out of the way.

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What is racism?

Although many would argue that some measure of power and authority is needed for a person or country to be racist, we wanted to use the whitest narrowest possible definition to avoid white people saying: “But what about...?” So we used Merriam-Webster’s definition:

  1. (a) a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Or (b)

    (b) behavior or attitudes that reflect and foster this belief : racial discrimination or prejudice. 
  2. (a) the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another

    (b) a political or social system founded on racism and designed to execute its principles
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It is inarguable that America is a political system founded on the racist principles of slavery, the genocide of Indigenous Americans, and a Constitution that officially declared that a Black life to be worth 60 percent of a white person’s. But that only means that America was racist.

Here are the facts:

Economics

  • The typical Black American family is worth 10 percent of the average white family.
  • Black people are more likely to be denied a mortgage or an auto loan, even when they have the same credit and employment history.
  • A home in a Black neighborhood is worth $48,000 less than an identical home in a white neighborhood, even if both neighborhoods have the same resources, amenities and crime rate.
  • For 50 years, the Black unemployment rate has hovered between two and 2.5 times the white unemployment rate.
  • Black men earn 87 cents for every dollar a white man earns. And, if you think the pay gap is due to a lack of education, Black women, the most educated demographic in America, are among the lowest paid. A Black woman with a master’s degree makes roughly the same salary as a white man with an associates degree.
  • Even when wages are controlled for education, years of experience, occupation and other compensable factors, Black workers earn about $2,000 less per year, a difference in salary that Jackson Gruver, a data analyst at compensation data and software firm PayScale, said is “likely attributable to race.”
  • In fact, according to math, the gap in median annual earnings increases with education.
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Source: ThinkNow, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey
Source: ThinkNow, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey
Graphic: The Root

Politics

  • While the United States’ population is made up of 60 percent non-Hispanic white citizens, Congress is 77 percent white. 
  • Every single state legislature is disproportionately white, meaning every state has a greater percentage of white lawmakers than the population they represent.
  • Eighty percent of sitting federal judges are white and 73 percent are men.
  • People in Black neighborhoods wait, on average, 29 percent longer to vote than people who live in white neighborhoods.
  • In the 2016 election, Black voters were 79 percent more likely than white voters to wait for more than 30 minutes before casting a ballot.
  • Since Tim Scott took office in 2012, poll closings have disproportionately occurred in non-white precincts.
  • Barack Obama is not only the first Black president, he was the first Black presidential nominee of a major political party, the first Black person to win a single electoral vote and the first Black person to win a state.
  • In 244 years, there have only been 24 Black cabinet members and only Charles Curtis, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Barack Obama and Kamala Harris have been in the top five of the presidential line of succession.
  • Throughout the history of the country, 1,994 people have served in the Senate. Tim Scott was only the fourth Black person in American history to be elected to the Senate by popular vote. Since his election, only three more have been elected, meaning Black people make up one-half of one percent of the total number of senators.
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Criminal Justice

  • Black men are sentenced to 20 percent longer sentences than white men who commit the same crime and have the same criminal history.
  • Seven out of every 10 suspects held in jail without bail are non-white. Bail for white suspects is, on average, lower than bail for Black suspects, despite the fact that white suspects are more likely to commit a crime while out on bail.
  • Police are 20 percent more likely to stop Black drivers, and Black drivers are twice as likely to be searched, even though police are more likely to find contraband on white drivers.
  • White people use illegal drugs more often than Black Americans. White people sell more drugs than Black Americans. In every year from 1980 to 2007, Black people “were arrested nationwide on drug charges at rates relative to population that were 2.8 to 5.5 times higher than white arrest rates,” according to Human Rights Watch.
  • White defendants are 25 percent more likely to have criminal charges against them reduced to a less serious crime.
  • According to a study by Northwestern University, over their course of life, Black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police, while Black women are about 1.4 times more likely to be killed by police than are white women.
  • White people kill more police.
  • White people are more likely to resist arrest.
  • Police are least likely to use force against white people.

Education

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Social Issues

  • Black children born in the bottom fifth of income earners have about a 2.5 percent chance of reaching the top fifth of the income bracket. White children, by contrast, have a 10.6 percent chance.
  • For 99 percent of the neighborhoods in the U.S., Black men earn less as adults than white men who grew up in comparable neighborhoods with comparable families.
  • Black children who grow up in two-parent homes do worse economically than white children who grew up in poor single-parent homes.
  • Blacks have less access to clean water and air.
  • The typical white person lives in a neighborhood that is 75 percent white and 8 percent Black, while the typical Black person’s neighborhood is 45 percent African American, the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty reports.
  • According to Dr. Darrell J. Gaskin, deputy director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 25.6 percent of African Americans lived in “healthcare deserts”—zip codes with few or no primary-care physicians—compared to 13.2 percent of whites.
  • Twelve percent of non-elderly Black people are uninsured, compared to 7.8 percent of white Americans.
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Now, Tim Scott would tell you that these are “unequal outcomes.” He would say that racism is something else, then define it so narrowly that evidence of racism requires a burning cross and DNA markers that spell out the n-word. But I invite you to scroll up and look at the definition of racism. Or, better yet, pull out your own dictionary.

How does this not describe “the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another?” This is the textbook definition of a “political or social system...designed to execute” the principles of racism. The only way anyone could deny these disparities were due to racism is if they believed that all the non-white people in history were resistant to hard work, were dumber, were more violent, or more succinctly, that “race is the fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities.”

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Your conservative fave would still call me a race-baiter by pointing out all of these statistics. They would say that this is not evidence of racism, they’d just dispute my agenda. They’d ask “what about what the Democrats did in 1838?” They’d talk about Lincoln and the 1994 crime bill or whether or not I love Jesus. They’d never engage in an honest discussion of the facts and data, because...

Because they are liars.

Because they are racists.

But, in the spirit of fairness, I must admit one thing.

They’re American as fuck.

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

DISCUSSION

robdweiner
TrumpsTinyHands

My mind is made up. Stop bothering me with all the pesky facts. It’s like a swarm of gnats in here with all these facts.

-Tim Scott, translated

Seriously though, I think I get Sen. Scott’s point: He doesn’t want to talk about race, he just wants fairness and prosperity for everyone. Which I think is a nice thought, but sort of like saying I don’t care about whether you are a king, queen or peasant, I just want everyone to have a fair chance at success. Wait now.... you know the princes and princesses can’t fail (can’t even go to jail for statutory rape.... I’m looking at you Prince Andrew), and a peasant can at best make a modest living, and even at that the odds are against them. Part of the “fair shot at success” is making sure that things are fair for fucks sake.

So, the real question is: is Sen. Scott really this dumb/oblivious, or is he pretending to be a moron?