The Mystery of the Kindly Doctor

I’ve noticed something about Ben Carson.  He’s black.

Watching news shows which discuss his rise in the polls, you wouldn’t know it.  He’s just another friendly, soft spoken brain surgeon.  Perhaps some commentators have also noticed he’s black, but they’re keeping it to themselves.  Since he’s impossible to dislike, a man of genuine warmth and real accomplishment, bringing up his race somehow diminishes him, which no one wants to do.

In fact, there is probably another brain surgeon out there, who’s just as nice and well spoken, who happens to be white, or Asian.  They wouldn’t be taken seriously.  People like the kindly Doctor because he’s the kind of black American we wish we saw more of.  Some may support him to demonstrate their lack of prejudice, but most, I think, do so because he holds the promise of bridging the black/white divide in this country.  We’d like to get along with all of our fellow Americans, including, particularly, blacks.

Like everybody else, I hoped Obama’s election would help race relations, but it was not to be.  It’s almost like the 60’s and the Civil Rights Act.  When it passed in ’65 it was thought of as a great leap forward, a great benefit to the blacks across the country.  A year later, life hadn’t changed in the northern ghettos.  The law had changed, but everyday reality was the same.  Blacks believed the law would improve their lives, and when it had no real effect they were angry and resentful.  A promise had been made, of progress, and it was broken.  So the great northern race riots of the 60’s ensued.  Detroit never recovered.

The poisonous state of race relations today may be a kind of repeat of the 60’s.  Obama’s election was a watershed moment for black Americans, and always will be.  But what benefit has the average black received?  Life in West Oakland is worse today than when he took office.  Wages, employment, housing are down.  There are a whole lot of very angry black people in this country.  Black Lives Matter is just another iteration of the Black Panthers from the 60’s.  So far we’ve had Ferguson and Baltimore.  The situation on the streets of our cities is ominous.  Cops are reluctant to do their job, and the thugs sense it, and take advantage.

Obama has a duty to address this situation, and I expect that he will.  But he is such a smarmy politician that he’ll make sure he encourages the maintenance of a certain level of animosity toward whites.  That’s what successful black (and Democrat) politicians do in this country. It’s reflexive.  But it’s not all the fault of the politicians.  That’s what a lot of black people want to hear.

After we finished my first year of law school I got a summer job at West Coast Detectives.  Babbie was crazy about this private detective on TV, Mannix, and I decided I could do that.  They got me a Teamster’s card and sent me to work in a food warehouse in the San Fernando Valley, Pacoima.  I’m undercover, and it’s a little dicey.  The place is about 20% white, 40% black, and 40% Chicano.  There’s definitely some racial tension.   I make friends with this guy named Buck Jump, a  big white guy.  For some reason the blacks liked this guy, and through him I got to know a few of them.  We got off work at 5:00 a. m. and one day we go to Buck’s place to watch some Olympics.  They had boxing on, and these black guys were the most racist sons of bitches I’d ever seen.  They’d go crazy rooting for any black guy, from any country, fighting any white guy.  They were rooting for a Nigerian over an American white.

I didn’t get to know these guys that well.  But it opened my eyes.  There’s a lot of black racism in this country, and I’m afraid it’s getting worse.

I don’t have a good feeling about all this.

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