Friday, July 16, 2010

Making Money for Black People

You know how you know you're a racist*? When default "people" are white people. If you're talking about people in the general sense, for example, people who work or people who play sports or people who own homes, and you have to specify if there are any black people in those categories, you don't quite think about black people as "people"**.

Rush Limbaugh gave us a wonderful example of this upon the occasion of George Steinbrenner's death:

"That cracker made a lot of African-American millionaires," the radio commentator said Tuesday on his show after the New York Yankees owner died at age 80. "He fired a bunch of white guys as managers left and right."

It's pointed out by a defender of Limbaugh's, perhaps positing that unrestrained capitalism is a force for equality, that the quote is taken out of context. Context doesn't really help.

George Steinbrenner has passed away at age 80. That cracker made a lot of African-American millionaires. George Steinbrenner, the classic capitalist. Everybody around him became wealthy. Like most successful capitalists, he made the people around him wealthy, and a lot of African-American millionaires along the way, and at the same time he fired a bunch of white guys as managers, left and right. Steinbrenner hasn't been himself for the past two or three years, but nevertheless what a man he was and what a fixture and a character he was in Major League Baseball."

Steinbrenner did not make random black people millionaires. He made very talented, very dedicated, very hard working people millionaires. Some of these people were white, some were black, some hispanic, but their defining traits had nothing to do with race. Unless you're a racist.

Steinbrenner also did fire people- people he felt weren't performing well enough. Again, race is irrelevent here, performance was. Not to Rush, who clearly sees it as remarkable that Steinbrenner would pay blacks millions of dollars, but fire white guys.

That's right, Rush, white guys can be fired.

*This works for misogynists and homophobes, too. If default "people" are men or heterosexuals, you have a problem.

**Obviously, there are legitimate reasons to specify race, for example, when discussing experiences particular to one group and not others.


  1. You know what else is "funny" about that?

    Roger Clemens
    Andy Pettitte
    Scott Brosius
    Jason Giambi
    Paul O'Neill

    That's just the first five names that came to mind on the "white guys George Steinbrenner gave a shitload of money to."

    Oh, and how does Joe Torre fit in to Rushbo's delusion? Or the fact that Big George hired Billy Martin about twenty times? Yes, he fired Billy a bunch of times, too, but the point stands...

  2. One thing I worried about, raising my kids in practically pure white Vienna (now there are a fair number of Africans here; not then) was the possibility of them becoming racists. So I did my best to explain to them that people were people. When my son Adam was about seven, we were in Berkeley, California, and I got talking with a homeless black guy. He started in about how hard it was in the white man's world, and how people didn't see past his skin color, and then turned to Adam and asked "When you look at me, what do you see?" Adam answered: "A man". I was so proud.

  3. I have to disagree somewhat strongly with your claim that anyone who pictures “default” people as Caucasian are racists. How you mentally represent an unknown individual in your mind has nothing to do with bigotry and everything to do with simple human nature and a natural assumption based on your social experience. If you are White and Whites are more prominent in your life than any other ethnicity, it’s only normal for your mind to, therefore, project those characteristics upon an unknown entity until further info is provided. Same goes for gender, sexual orientation, hair color, what have you. It’s no more racist than is inherently assuming that a Black person has dark hair; it’s just what’s more common.

    Of course, this is all just speculation on my part, based on the fact that A) “default” people to me are Caucasian, male and straight and B) I’d rather die than be a racist (or any type of bigot, really). Also, there’s nothing wrong with specifying a stranger’s ethnicity/skin color in a description, whether it’s explicitly relevant or not. It just helps to garner a more accurate mental image of who the individual is.


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