CAN WE FINALLY HAVE A REAL CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE? a recent headline read. And I thought: I’m game. I’d be happy to talk about race. But with whom? No leftists, certainly. The Left’s idea of a conversation is shrieking, “You’re a racist!” at anyone who opposes their policies. And their policies are a racial disaster. Employment rates were rising and illegitimacy and murder rates were falling among American blacks until the Left seized the culture in the 1960s—then the numbers all went in the wrong direction. You want to visit a place where black lives don’t matter? Try Chicago, where Democrats have been in charge since 1931, or Baltimore, where there hasn’t been a Republican mayor since 1967. After heavy antipolice demonstrations, both cities saw a dramatic surge in their already-disastrous murder rates last year, according to FBI statistics. What can leftists have to say about race besides “We’re sorry”?
I have more sympathy with the bromides of the Right, but let’s face it, they are bromides. Yes, bourgeois behaviors like education, marriage, and hard work still forge the way out of poverty in America. But I’ve seen schools in poor black neighborhoods, and I’ve met children there, and I think if you’re eight years old and your dad is gone and your mom’s on drugs and all your role models are gangsters . . . well, maybe it’s not so easy to get your bourgeois game on.
But then, are we still having a conversation about race? Or are we just talking about poverty? Is race even an actual thing? Is it really a meaningful genetic category? Can it be isolated as a cultural fact? Does it exist anywhere but in the minds of bigots, Left and Right? Let’s start with that conversation.