One only needs to read the sports pages these days to see how off kilter the issue of race in America has become. According to a survey released by E-Poll Market Research, the most disliked football player in the NFL is Colin Kaepernick. However, the same survey showed among black Americans, Kaepernick’s popularity is skyrocketing. According to the poll, 42 percent of black Americans now like the 49ers quarterback “a lot,” while only 2 percent dislike him “a lot.” Just two years ago, only 16 percent of African Americans said they liked Kaepernick “a lot.”
This poll tells you all you need to know about the national mindset. To a plurality of Black Americans, Colin Kaepernick is standing up to institutional racism and police violence against blacks. To a plurality of non-black Americans, Colin Kaepernick is disrespectful to our country and the military and is putting innocent police officers’ lives in danger and inciting mob violence. Rudyard Kipling, a Brit who spent a great deal of his life in India, famously wrote, “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” Are we at that point where Black America is Black America, and Non-Black America is Non-Black America and never the twain shall agree?
Certainly race issues and race riots are nothing new to America, and if you were born in the 1950s or earlier you are old enough to remember the 1960s when city after city was torched. But there is a different dynamic at work this time that will make it harder to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Unlike the 1960s, poor and lower middle class whites’ standard of living is plummeting with no short- or long-term prospects on the horizon. For this demographic group their real wages have been falling for a generation, and whites are the only major ethnic group in America whose life expectancy is lessening partially because poor and lower middle class whites are in the midst of an opioid dependency crisis that is wreaking havoc in their community, much like what the crack epidemic did to inner city blacks in the 1980s. With their own problems, they have little sympathy for the likes of Colin Kaepernick, whose paycheck they can only dream of, and they are beyond frustrated at being constantly scolded by the media and politicians that they are the source of whatever ills Black America suffers. Poor and lower middle class whites have also come to believe they are now on the wrong end of a double standard. To them the term diversity has become synonymous with anti-white, and from job to college applications they believe, just like many black Americans, that they are being discriminated against because of skin color.
A small but telling item also found in the sports pages this week is the saga of Seattle Mariners ex-catcher Steve Clevenger. Clevenger, who is white, tweeted out stupid sentiments on the Charlotte riots like “Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha (expletive) cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the anthem!” And “BLM (Black Lives Matter) is pathetic again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone should be locked behind bars like animals!”
Clevenger was promptly suspended without pay for the rest of the season by the Seattle Mariners, which is certainly their prerogative and is understandable. Contrast this, however, with how black football players have been treated over the last few years when they speak out on similar racial matters. Universally they are treated like wise sages by the media, as if they all had something compelling for society to hear, like modern-day Socrates, even when some of what they were saying was nonsensical. And when, like Clevenger, some of them crossed the line of decency, no black athletes were suspended. This includes Cincinnati Bengals running back Isaiah Crowell who tweeted an image of a white police officer being beheaded. All of this reinforces the mindset of poor and lower middle class whites’ belief that double-standards do exist, and they are adversely impacting them.
As we become a more diverse nation, with each sub-group, including whites, having their own axe to grind, we find the American Dream collapsing before our eyes. Politicians of every stripe, who benefit from voting blocs, are of little help and often are a hindrance as pouring gasoline on a lit fire is to their short-term benefit.
I hope one day to live in a country where race doesn’t matter. Problem is, it’s now mattering more than ever. So how will we get to such a day?