Letter to the Editor | Policies put many at a disadvantage

Letter to the Editor | Policies put many at a disadvantage

In our country's economic history, the roles of slavery and racial ideologies have been central to class exploitation. This no longer has much to do with discrimination as a primary force, or lack of "equal opportunity," but with the realities of neoliberal wealth accumulation of the "meritocratic" top 10 percent through dispossession of the broad working class, with African-American workers and families bearing the brunt of income stagnation, wealth loss, foreclosure, blight, indebtedness, austerity and incarceration.

The relationship between race (an ideological fiction) and class (capitalist exploitation and immiseration of labor) has, in academia, been disappeared by identity politics, an absence also noted in Democratic Party politics.

Moving from gown to town and our local newspaper, critical sociological notions of class and race are absent, as we encounter narratives of individual achievement, inspiration, tragedy and criminality, contextualized within families and neighborhoods seemingly inexplicably characterized by majority black populations, poverty and high social risks. This is venerable bourgeois racism, modified by current sensibilities of "post-racial" civility.

Meanwhile, Brian Holding (Oct. 14), former CEO of Human Kinetics, claims that his foundation and the city of Champaign will "develop" and "program" black neighborhoods out of poverty. But these efforts will — with continued neoliberal top-down economic warfare — prove to be superficial and futile.

The "social pathologies" of poverty commonly referred to by editors and columnists serve to absolve the wealthy and powerful of their obvious complicity in national policies that assure, in our rich society, that half of us struggle to maintain a decent standard of living.