Occassionally, I do this thing...

...where I pull out a comment and respond to it with another post. Should I disagree with the comment, I don't want people to feel like I'm putting them on blast. I greatly greatly value the opinions on this blog even the ones (probably especially the ones) that don't cohere with mine. Anyway, this is commenter ewk elaborating on white resentment:

1. Resentment about AA doesn't require beneficiaries. The very PRINCIPLE that some people get a benefit because of their race is offensive to those raised to believe that there shouldn't be any. It is very likely that people who have benefited from AA could help show its value... but absent the good testimonies of the benefited, it seems like a principle designed to perpetuate racial unfairness.

2. As a white person, I have never seen, nor would I tolerate, racist treatment of a black person in my presence. Yet as a white person I have been a victim of race based discrimination by black people on more than one occasion. White resentment, whatever else it may be, has something to do with the fact that whites aren't included in the same code that we are expected to defend.

3. Lastly, white resentment also crops up in responsibility and blame. With the recent news of AIDS rates in the black community we are reminded by the media that the cause of the problem is lack of health care services and education. Just as Ta-Nehisi said some months ago about "the cringe" in the black community at the killing of a white college girl by a black man, there is a white cringe - we aren't providing enough health care and education to help minorities. White cringe happens with a failure to help all minorities; black, asian, the poor, women, immigrants... white people believe they are supposed to do something about it. Sometimes though, we don't think its our responsibility, or our fault. Therefore, resentment.

I appreciate the first two points, but I think the third highlights a piece of especially problematic thinking. We can debate about whether more health care and education will work. But the idea that these sorts of social programs are a gift from whites do to blacks proceeds from a truly frightening premise--that no taxable black citizenry exists. In fact, most black people are not poor. One could take this further and point out that we're all Americans, and that really such programs are just an investment in our collective future. Those high AIDS rates may get poor blacks first, but it's coming around. They'll be hitting the emergency rooms sooner or later.