Do We Talk About Race too Often?

Do We Talk About Race too Often?

It’s an awkward question. Ever since last year’s BLM protestriots, both sides have entrenched themselves in different narratives about race. The conversation is so pervasive that Critical Race Theory has become a sticking point in party politics. Elections and local regulations are made or broken based upon people’s understanding of an increasingly obscure and (in my opinion) rather nefarious dogma.

Our culture has decided that it’s time to reckon with race. But I have my doubts; after all, the right-wing pushback against racial narratives is grounded in the idea that the left pushes too hard. They focus on the supposedly inherent divisions and systems of power that revolve around the concept and mark everyone as complicit in perpetuating those systems. But has the political right begun doing the same?

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Race narratives serve as a distraction from the fact that all politicians are, in fact, bad

I can speak for myself, at least. And I think the answer is yes. I always have something to say about it, and during live streams, it’s often the point of contention I get the most excited about. When scrolling Twitter, I can spend hours foaming at the mouth and commenting on people’s ‘white people are the root of all evils’ posts. I take it personally even though marginalization of a group I belong to has nothing to do with me personally, only my ego.

Like everything else in the media landscape, it comes down to narrative. That’s a hot topic in of itself, so let’s dive into it a little.

He who controls the narrative…

…controls the discourse. What does this mean? Put simply, it means that political conversations will revolve around the talking points that people encounter in media. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the political concerns of Americans are manufactured by the media. Often, the media themselves are reactionary to leaked videos or to events that they’ll see as palatable or shocking to their audience (a prime example is the George Floyd video – people on social media seized on it before any mainstream outlets like CNN did).

‘Narrative’ begins when the same story or issue burns like wildfire through media outlets. Hot and trending stories garner more viewers, which causes other outlets to latch onto those stories in an effort not to miss the tide. This creates a feedback loop among viewers and content creators: consumers keep outlets alive by rewarding their content with consumption, and outlets optimize their content schedule to fit the mold of what consumers find most entertaining or alarming.

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The law of supply and demand is on display here, but problems arise when it comes to reactionary, political media. When racial tensions are stoked by a video, left-wing news outlets like CNN come out to bat for protesters and social justice. When these riots/protests/conversations become front-and-center, right-wing outlets like Fox news realize they need to comment on what’s going on. That’s when the tete-a-tete begins and the narrative begins to weave together. Media outlets spar with one another and viewers, with their in-group biases, fatten themselves on the adrenaline accompanies witnessing the conflict.

Partisan media is thus always reactionary. It must be the case, then, that it’s always divisive. If you’re a right-wing outlet reacting to left-wing reporting, it’s very unlikely that your pundits will agree with the talking heads on the other side. Now that we understand how echo chambers come to be, the question of whether we talk about race too much has some context we can extrapolate from to answer the question.

Being Reactionary

Now we return to the beginning of this article with more nuance. My contention is that right-wing media’s conversations around race are necessarily reactive. This means they’re not productive because they don’t produce new ideas but instead react to ideas posited by the other side.

A fiery base of reactionary politics is often necessary as a bulwark to dangerous political ideals. Anti-fascism, as it was first practiced, against actual fascists (not just against anyone who dares to be conservative in Portland), is such an example of reactionary politics which seek to be productive by stamping out an ideology that has the potential for ballooning into something extreme and dangerous to life and liberty.

Ironincally, these are the guys who are now dangerous to life and liberty. Because they’re too reactionary.

The conversation about race in America is not this. CRT as an academic theory is deeply flawed, but it is not coming for the soul of the nation like some people seem to believe. Culture War race ideation in 2021 is a battle being waged in academia, on Twitter, and by the likes of pundits with barely anything else to talk about, and we should not emulate them by filling the airwaves of our audience with a similar schtick.

So don’t defund the police because you think they’re racist; do it because they don’t need military-grade equipment (or at least auction off the military surplus to genpop and let cops bid). Don’t restructure corporate America so that huge companies get minority/women CEO’s who are paid 100 times more than their workers and say you’ve sovled the glass ceiling and racism simultaneously; fight for fair wages by paying CEO’s less and understanding how lobbying affects labor laws. The racial discourse of liberals often misses crucial marks for actual equity and societal distress at their own peril because the media pushes a racial narrative in order not to offend their donors and parent companies, who benefit from what the racial discourse chooses to ignore.

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Why should we pander to such a system? To what benefit is it for Liberty Revolt Media or ‘independent media’ or right-wing media to react to what should be, even on the left, a non-issue in many domains? Racial politics need to be addressed, yes. But systemic inequities are most pernicious when big business teams up with big government and the media to spoon-feed us a narrative of racial tension when the real protests that mattered were those which sought to occupy wall street and end the fed. When the media drives the car, we ought not strap ourselves in for the ride or we’re going to end up at the destination they want us to regardless.

Let’s stop being reactionary and start taking action. Don’t ‘defeat’ the narrative. Write a better one.

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