TO: White America
FROM: The Man
SUBJECT: RE: Ferguson News – A Reminder on Racial Discourse
As you may have noticed, the events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri have been dominating news headlines and fueling conversation among peers in social media. Many of you have voiced your discomfort with the situation. How should we respond in the face of such blatant and evident injustice? I believe that this perceived challenge can be turned into an exciting opportunity, but we have to work together on this one. To rally our team, I thought it prudent to highlight a few of my favorite guidelines about racial discourse from our PR playbook.
To nail the point home, I think it’s appropriate to highlight a verbatim straight from the head of PR himself:
“We are showing bad form in how we represent ourselves in these out-in-the-open conversations in social media.What we say today can be used as hard evidence to inform the stereotypes of tomorrow, let’s make sure those stereotypes remain positive, and therefore reinforce the white privilege we have all worked so hard to establish.”
(As a reminder please remember to destroy this document after reading, any acknowledgement that white privilege actually exists is a no-no).
First of all, we are entering a new era in what it means to be white in America. In a few decades we won’t have an outright majority so things like explicit racism just don’t fly any more. If we want to keep our place on top, we have to be stealthy. We have to appear rooted in moral righteousness. Most of all, we have to be unified.
1.) Emphasize Their Accountability, Ignore Ours.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to insist that the onus for people of color to improve their circumstance falls exclusively on their own shoulders. Whites currently make up about 64% of the population in the U.S., no other group has larger than a 17% share. What does that mean? Unless we make meaningful changes to the system to create a more equitable environment and truly level the playing field, “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” will never be enough for minority groups to threaten the status quo. Do minority groups have a role to play in their own success? Of course! But please, let’s not get the word out that we have an equal or greater role to play if that were to happen. Any action in the contrary can compromise our disproportionate wealth and incumbency in positions of political and fiscal economic power.
2.) Highlight Exceptions.
We’re laughably far from proportional representation in politics, business, and wealth, but nothing takes an objective, reasonable conversation off track like referencing our black president, citing Bill Cosby, or mentioning that one black friend you have that makes more money than you do. Does a personal account hold the same weight as macro statistics aggregated across millions of people? No. But does it work? Yes! Remember, a conversation that goes nowhere is a win for us. Inaction is our goal here.
The more we can frame disenfranchised minorities as the antithesis of the American Dream, making morally perverse choices based on values that we can’t identify with, the more leverage we have. Can you imagine what would happen if it leaks that poor Latinos and Blacks, for example, value education proportionately higher even than whites do on the whole? It could be a step towards empathy and finding common ground between an already growing diaspora of so called “white allies” and the very groups we’re working to exploit. In other words: not good.
3.) Appear Idealistic.
Remember, we have the advantage in that we’ve shaped paradigms and perceptions of whites and non-whites since birth. Ideas like the American Dream are considered truth and rarely examined or inspected by most people (score one for us). Hammer the point home that hard work is all that is required to create a better life and insist that any argument in the contrary is unpatriotic.
Occasionally, you will encounter a conversation where a counterpoint is made using statics, facts, and data. . For example, the American Dream might be countered with figures about social mobility in the U.S. relative to other countries. This is precarious footing indeed and it is imperative to steer the conversation back to nostalgic ideas or principles.
If your opposition insists on using evidence to back their argument, rely on our tried and true tactic that has worked for hundreds of years to impede progress and maintain the status quo: cite documents that are hundreds of years old (see the Bible or Constitution). Selectively citing these sources fits our agenda beautifully. It allows us to fight facts with subjective accounts or ideas with ambiguous original intent or origin that have been accepted as truths over time. (For case studies on this tactic, see our fight against abolishing slavery, interracial marriage, and most recently marriage equality).
Remember, we are in this together. It is our responsibility to leverage our position on top as a qualifier for asserting our own moral superiority as long as we keep statements of racial superiority implicit. This phase of our struggle to remain on top will not be won with racial slurs or segregation. It will be won through quiet reinforcements of old stereotypes. Through discourse dictated by emotion, by fear, by protectionism. And through polarization of politics that impede meaningful changes to the system.
Now to address a segment of you that I consider a real threat to the integrity of this distribution list at best and perhaps to our entire effort: white allies. For the sake of professional courtesy, please remove your name from this list. But before you do, I offer one final plea to bring you back to the majority. To the winners. The haves.
You will always be one of us even if you don’t want to. You will always enjoy the privileges we work so hard to maintain. And you will never be fully accepted or part of these movements you attach yourself to because you can only empathize with another cause, never sympathize. Why waste your time and emotional energy chipping away at the institution that was designed for you? You owe us. You are us. Now, ignore the reality such a growing number of you seem to be increasingly uncomfortable with. America is not equal. Your welcome. Now come be a part of the winning team again and do it for the next generation.