The Trouble with Disparity

Adolph Reed and Walter Ben Michaels at nonsite:

In fact, not only will a focus on the effort to eliminate racial disparities not take us in the direction of a more equal society, it isn’t even the best way of eliminating racial disparities themselves. If the objective is to eliminate black poverty rather than simply to benefit the upper classes, we believe the diagnosis of racism is wrong, and the cure of antiracism won’t work. Racism is real and antiracism is both admirable and necessary, but extant racism isn’t what principally produces our inequality and antiracism won’t eliminate it. And because racism is not the principal source of inequality today, antiracism functions more as a misdirection that justifies inequality than a strategy for eliminating it.

What makes racism look like the problem? The very real racial disparities visible in American life. And what makes antiracism look like the solution? Two plausible but false beliefs: that racial disparities can in fact be eliminated by antiracism and that, if they could be, their elimination would make the U.S. a more equal societyThe racial wealth gap, because it is so striking and commonly invoked, is a very good, not to say perfect, illustration of how, in our view, both the problem and solution are wrongly conceived.

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