Marshawn Wolley: America should strive to be anti-racist

Marshawn WolleyIs America a racist country? My good friend Abdul-Hakim Shabazz offered a nuanced no.

I’m far less concerned with this question than the issue of whether this country is anti-racist. After all, not being racist isn’t the same as being anti-racist.

On the actual question raised by Shabazz, I’d point to American slavery, a legal compromise that established Black people as three-fifths of a person, the failure of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the need for the civil rights movement, the need for a Black lives matter movement (as distinct from the organization), and the racial reckoning we just had last summer as irrefutable evidence that this country has a significant problem with race.

Progress on the problem of racism will involve anti-racists’ engaging systemic racism imbedded in systems that Black people and people of color battle every day.

Distance from the problem is the problem.

When Black people are killed by the police for situations like sleeping in one’s own apartment (Breonna Taylor), selling cigarettes (Eric Garner) or reaching for one’s license to carry a gun (Philando Castile) or just being a child at play (Tamir Rice), there hasn’t been justice. Qualified immunity is a tool imbedded in our American legal system that has allowed officers to get away with killing Black people for years—it’s the system.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission studied racial sentencing disparities, and “the Commission found that Black male offenders continued to receive longer sentences in the most recent period studied than similarly situated white male offenders …” Mass incarceration and sentencing disparities experienced by Black males has been a problem for decades.

And while my good friend reviewed graduation rates, the Economic Policy Institute found that, in nearly every educational level, Black people have almost twice the unemployment rate as white people. But more shocking, in multiple instances, white people with lower educational attainment had lower unemployment rates than Black people with the next level higher of educational attainment—not in 1960, but in 2019.

My good friend then referenced Black wealth disparities without discussing the legacy of slavery, redlining, or the more recent subprime lending that Black families received even though they qualified for better interest rates. We actually agree that the ability to spend $1.4 trillion isn’t power—especially if those dollars aren’t supporting Black businesses.

But not to be a downer, the United States lags other nations in economic mobility, and the millennial generation is likely to be the first generation that is less prosperous than the previous generation.

Suffice it to say—my friend and I disagree on some points; nevertheless, there is some common ground.

There was policy movement on mass incarceration in the last administration, and improved graduation rates is a good thing. If we could improve Black net worth, I’d celebrate that progress.

But the reality is, we need more anti-racists doing more work on these and other areas.

If it were possible to have a census on racists, non-racists and anti-racists, both the non-racists and anti-racists would outnumber racists. But that isn’t my point.

Having more non-racists distant from the challenges faced by people of color in society isn’t exactly all that helpful when we consider the impact racists and racist systems have on Black people and other people of color in our country.

I’m more interested in the question of whether America is anti-racist. We’re getting there, but we aren’t done yet.•

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Wolley is President and CEO of Black Onyx Management, Inc. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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3 thoughts on “Marshawn Wolley: America should strive to be anti-racist

  1. As always in the examples used of “black injustice,” Wolley doesn’t tell of the mitigating factors that brought on the police action shootings.

    How about writing a story about how our courts, judges and jurors are being extorted by BLM and ANTIFA domestic terrorist to render decisions and verdicts with nothing to do with pure legal justice but more so on political correctness?

    Breonna Taylor and George Floyd cases are prime examples of the “give us the verdict we want or you and your city burns” messages aimed at our courts and justice systems.

    That’s racism.

    Why are acclaimed activist judges with all of their known biases and jurors the same allowed to preside over black criminal trials?

    That’s racism.

    On economics, everything mentioned isn’t racist, it about the numbers of what financially qualified. Regardless of color if you dont qualify, you don’t qualify.

    But Wolley as always exploits the negatives over the positives as to create his narratives and acclaim, fails to mention or proclaim of how these days there are more programs to help minorities a leg up advantage financially and economically.

    That’s racism.

    Abdul-Hakim Shabazz who Wolley mentioned pegged it correctly that “America isn’t a racist country.” “It has racist in it.”

    I add that racist come in all colors and are the few.

    From past to this present column by Wolley, Mr. Wolley needs to get over his “blackness” and join the rest of us of all colors in making our country the best it can be without all the political correctness.

  2. Good points, Darrell.

    From Wolley: But not to be a downer, the United States lags other nations in economic mobility…

    How is that defined, Mr. Wolley? Do you define economic mobility as the ability to confiscate the earnings of one man, regardless of his skin’s pigmentation, and give it to another man who refuses to work? What nation(s) provide for greater opportunity for upward mobility, more opportunity to better one’s lot, than The United States of America? Venezuela?

  3. The “racial reckoning last summer” where the defendant had no evidence brought against him in court of being a racist? Where racism was not once uttered as a motive by the prosecution? The media trial is not reality and is irrelevant.

    Based on your assertions, maybe we should instead focus on our nation’s very apparent clinical psychosis induced by the “media” on the matter of race relations. In my opinion, much of your commentary stems from this warped worldview. Because it is on the airwaves and is the projected “popular” opinion does not make it true.

    I also can’t help but notice and mention one glaring omission in your analysis. Where is individual accountability once implied in any of your analysis?

    Based on a plain reading of your article, it seems that you assert systemic racism not as a causal factor but rather THE cause of the outcomes of a group of people. For greater effect, you carry forward and try to press the weight of old history on modern society. You broach grievances that do not have clear, obvious racist causation, and do not present compelling evidence.

    This broken reasoning lumps everyone in the black community together, regardless of their perspectives, affiliations, or progress in life. This type of generalization is what you proclaim you do not want.

    The unjustified magnitude in which you portray what you deem “systemic racism” is a useful strategy because it is one, not politically correct to question it, two, sounds reassuring to people looking for excuses for undesired outcomes, and three, provides fodder to rebuttals by holders of your position, even if totally fallacious and without proper evidence, in the sense that those who question this perspective must not be “anti-racist”.

    You charge the public with action, and yet it is a a very vague call. What do you really want? It seems an inquisition rather than a justified reaction to or mitigation of behavior. Again, dangerous. The precedent for these calls of action is usually justice by mob rule. That can end badly for people on both sides of an issue, and even for those on the same side.

    The overwhelming majority of people oppose discrimination in all its ugly forms. You don’t mention that in today’s political climate, people and companies are hung out to dry for just being perceived as racist, usually with quite specious evidence at best. That is not justice or anti-racist. That is using a double-edged sword for gain and destruction.

    In your crusade, how do you protect innocent people from having their lives destroyed because a mob condemns them as being racist?

    Instead of rebutting the other author, I want to see another article from you actually laying out your arguments in a more robust fashion. This article doesn’t cut it.

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