The Cost of Racism to White America

The Cost of Racism to White America

University of Massachusetts Professor John H Bracey (2011)

Film Review

In his lecture, Professor Bracey blames racism and white privilege for US having the most poorly organized working class in the industrialized world. From the start of Jim Crow after the Civil War to the late sixties, Africa Americans were deliberately excluded from trade unions, a perfect set-up for white bosses to use non-unions black workers to bust strikes and unions. This absence of working class solidarity meant it took American workers until the 1930s to win basic rights and benefits (eg Social Security, unemployment compensation and welfare) that European workers won in the 1880s.

Racism also keeps white people ignorant of their own history. For example they are unaware (I sure was) that the Battle of the Alamo was fought to extend slavery to Texas (slavery was illegal when Mexico owned Texas).

The refusal of northern whites to confront their own racism would ultimately culminate in the Civil War, which would result in more deaths (1 million) than all other US wars combined.

Bracey also blames racist attitudes for the absence of public education in the South until after the Civil War. It would be black Reconstruction governments that established free public education in the South – for all children (black and white). They would also establish the first state universities in Georgia and Mississippi.”

Ironically it was African Americans who founded Ole Miss (University of Mississippi), though they were later excluded when the Ku Klux Kan violently overthrew the southern Reconstruction governments.

It was also black women who organized the southern textile mills and not Norma Ray, as portrayed in the popular film starring Sally Fields.

Continuing racism forces white people to sacrifice education, health, housing and social service programs to cover the phenomenal cost of mass incarceration (of mainly black and Hispanic Americans. At an annual cost of $40,000 per inmate, the cost of incarcerating 2.4 million Americans adds up to $960 billion annually.

The presentation starts at 7 min.


13 thoughts on “The Cost of Racism to White America

  1. It always amazes me that the despite the US having the highest rate of incarceration in the world, that the logical conclusion to stop jailing people and change over to prevention and rehabilitation, has so far eluded the US. Are they so blind or are the profits from that incarceration industry too good?


  2. As you say, the profits are too good. Also it’s clearly used as a form of population control. The decision was made under the Reagan administration, when trade laws were changed to allow American factories to shut down and move to cheap slave labor markets in Southeast Asia. These policies disproportionately hurt urban blacks. It was feared that chronic unemployment would lead to social unrest. And the War on Drugs was launched because locking them up seemed like the most efficient way to prevent social upheaval.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks as if we don’t really care what racism costs us, as long as we have somebody despise and mistreat. Otherwise, surely we would be doing something about such rampant injustice. Thank you for reminding us. – Linnda


  4. Race is often so hidden and structured though. It’s apparent in who gets to teach in higher education, and the content that gets taught. It’s maintained by social institutions and families, education, because the world structured as it is seems so normal.

    I think most (sensitive) people don’t know the myriad ways race is upheld. And sometimes we just go ahead with whatever seems normal. And that’s true power, because it goes unquestioned.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just finished watching the video and Professor John Bracey Jr., was ever so spot on! Whites will shoot themselves in their own foot and are quite literally doing that just to make sure that Black people don’t benefit from anything.

    And I have been saying for quite some time now that whites will soon be pulling up a chair next to Black folks as their standard of living drops down to that of Black folks.

    I was shocked to hear about the massive number of slaves that Massachusetts and New York had because northern states have gone on and on about how slavery was mostly in southern states as though their shit didn’t stink. It stunk everywhere! And what was also sad to hear was how many Seminole Indians were killed because they were trying to protect the runaway slaves from being returned to slavery and how the government had no problem spending $40 million to kill the Indians. This is all so horrific.

    Not to forget that Alamo mess as though it should be held up as a shining example when in fact, it was the Americans fighting the people of Mexico over slavery when the people of Mexico were against it.

    And look at how much money just one prisoner costs, $40,000 and yet people are amassing so much student loan debt when if many low-level drug offenders were released, that money could go to higher education scholarships.

    Finally, Professor Bracey was spot on again when he said that America “has no moral authority whatsoever to castigate another country or nation for barbarity” when this nation takes the award for that!

    God damn America to hell! And I mean that with every fiber of my being!

    Thank you for posting this Dr. Bramhall! It was truly most informative and eye-opening, not to mention, extremely sad due to the history of this nation of hypocrites.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Thanks 1tawnystranger. You can see the dynamic Bracey talks about with the rise of Donald Trump (despite all their protestations otherwise, his candidacy is clearly supported by many Wall Street elites). Trump, with all his racist, anti-Islam, and anti-immigration rhetoric has been extremely effective in dividing the working class. He’s the first candidate in decades to talk about real working class issues, but all the inflammatory racist rhetoric means the message only gets through to white blue collar workers. This is a classic pattern of fascist populists – they pretend to be concerned about working class issues but instead of allowing the blame for poverty to fall on Wall Street where it belongs, they project it onto a scapegoat – in this case people with brown skin.

      Great post, by the way.

      Liked by 1 person

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