Delgado, Richard; The Coming Race War? And Other Apocalyptic Tales of America After Affirmative Action and Welfare; 1996 New York University Press; ISBN 0-8147-1877-9
|Scott Berhends <email@example.com>||The Comming Race War? (Berhends)|
|john kropke <firstname.lastname@example.org>||The Coming Race War (John Kropke)|
|Gregg Dewein <email@example.com>||The Coming Race War (dewein)....|
|Mary Caryl Moran <firstname.lastname@example.org>||Delgado,The Coming Race War|
|ROBERT MILLER <ltrobmil@HOTMAIL.COM>||Re: Delgado,The Coming Race War|
|Mary Caryl Moran <email@example.com>||Re: Delgado,The Coming Race War|
|Teeomm Williams <solfyr@EDUC.UMASS.EDU>||Re: Delgado,The Coming Race War|
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 16:56:20 -0600
From: Scott Berhends <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The Comming Race War? (Berhends)
Delgado, Richard; The Coming Race War? And Other Apocalyptic Tales of America After Affirmative Action and Welfare; 1996 New York University Press; ISBN 0-8147-1877-9
What is it about race relations in America that upsets so many people?
If we are to believe the conservatives and those in favor of merit-based
hiring practices (for simplicity sake I will call them all conservatives)
the only people who should be angered by the present (situation??) of race
relations in America should be the whites, particularly the white males. If
we are to believe the conservatives then we (white males) have done
everything in our power to overcome our country's centuries-long history of
oppression. If we believe the conservatives, the only people responsible
for racial (and perhaps sexual) disparities in America are the minorities.
And so the argument continues. Conservatives contend that America has been
equalized, the playing field has been leveled, from this statement, they
infer that failure to succeed in American society must be due either to a
lack of motivation (the more popular argument) or a genetic "inferiority"
among minorities (Maurry and Herrenstein's neo-eugenic argument in The Bell
Curve). At the same time, the minority population and its white supporters
(I will simply refer to this group with the term "underprivileged") contend
that, while it is possible (though unlikely) that the playing field has
tangibly been leveled, there are a number of other factors, the results of
centuries of oppression, that though not necessarily visible nevertheless
act to keep the underprivileged from achieving equality with their
privileged (and usually white) counterparts.
Richard Delgado is one of those "liberal" (for lack of a better term)
proponents of the latter view. in The Coming Race War? And Other
Apocalyptic Tales of America after Affirmative Action Delgado masterfully
attacks the traditional conservative argument for a system of dolling out
benefits based on merit alone. Many of Delgado's arguments run parallel to
those of his colleagues (or vice versa) but they are nonetheless important
arguments to be made. at first glance it appears that this is a book
written more to benefit the privileged than the underprivileged, it is
written in a quasi-academic style with numerous references to examples that
fall beyond the realm of popular knowledge (a sad testament to the American
intellectual culture) and it does not seem to contain ideas that would be
novel to those who have suffered under the "yoke of oppression". Upon
reflection though, I realized that this is a book that is designed to
benefit not only academics but all of American society. it may be the case
that Delgado is not telling the underprivileged people of America anything
they do not already know, but there is a certain power that accompanies the
written word and by committing this common knowledge to paper the
underprivileged may reap the rewards of that power. Furthermore, by
bringing to light these various criticisms of the merit system Delgado
gains the ability to sway some privileged people who were simply unaware of
the problems inherent in American society.
Perhaps the most important point raised by Delgado is his recognition of
what he calls "false empathy", though I disagree with the connotations of
the term and would suggest substituting "false" for a milder term such as
"mistaken", the idea behind the term is powerful. Simply speaking, false
empathy is the mistake privileged people make when they believe they can
discern the feelings or thoughts of an underprivileged person. Most would
agree that one's environment plays a major (some say all-pervading) role in
the formation of one's cognitive and imaginative ability; a person can not
imagine something they do not have (at least nominal) experience with.
Because the privileged people of America (myself included) have not
experienced anything akin to what being underprivileged is, they can not
empathize with an underprivileged person. Though I agree with the notion of
false empathy, I am concerned about its implications. It seems as though
such a notion, if considered by it, creates an outsider group. Because I am
a member of the privileged class I am unable to understand the dimensions
of being a minority in America, though a powerful idea I am unsure what the
exclusion of white (male) America will accomplish, beyond increased racial
antipathy, for minority America.
Furthermore, a politics of outsidership, such as the one (I believe is)
implied by the notion of false empathy seems to lend itself amazingly well
to, what I like to call the Sneeches defense. For those unfamiliar with the
Dr. Seuse book The Star-Bellied Sneeches I will explain. There was an
island populated by two kinds of Sneeches, ones with stars on their bellies
and ones without. Within this island society the Star-Bellied Sneeches held
the dominant positions; they were the privileged class. The Plain-Bellied
Sneeches, desiring equality, were one day presented with an invention, one
which implanted stars where there were none before. The Plain-Bellied
Sneeches jumped at the opportunity and had stars implanted on their
bellies. This spurred a rather expensive struggle between the Plain and
Star-Bellied Sneeches to maintain the (seemingly arbitrary) differences.
These differences are the same ones being maintained by the
underprivileged. Any person who criticizes the underprivileged
(Plain-Bellied) group may be met with a retort along the lines of "you have
no idea what it is like to be underprivileged, it is no wonder you
criticize me". This defense, because the group is based on invisible
properties such as upbringing and privilege, may be applied to all critics
of the given movement. While I realize the benefits of solidarity,
especially for an underprivileged group, I caution such solidarity lest it
Delgado is able, in my opinion, to make a decisive blow against proponents
of merit in contemporary America. I realize this last statement may prove
confusing to those who have not read the book so I will clarify. Merit is a
"color-blind" notion, one based solely on one's performance. Delgado has no
problem with such a notion, but he couches his acceptance in a notion of
equality. In order for merit to achieve its goal of facilitating equality,
there must be equality to begin with; merit is a capitalist notion and
capitalism, in its pure form, requires equality among players. If the
system one wishes to apply merit to is unequal, merit will fail. Delgado
realizes that the system is unequal and is therefore critical of merit, as
it stands. If, in some future time, America is equalized, merit will be a
perfectly acceptable system. Delgado's attack on merit though does not
simply involve the above notions. His attack comes from an equation of
merit, in contemporary America, with affirmative action. Merit, Delgado
contends, is a principle designed to give benefits to the most qualified,
the person who earns them through the most work. In contemporary America,
the underprivileged must work much harder than their privileged
counterparts to achieve the same tangible goals. If one thinks of American
society as a running race, then the underprivileged must run both faster
and farther than their privileged opponents to simply tie.
advocates making considerations such as this when applying a merit standard
to hiring practices. For instance, if one is presented with a black man and
a white man, both of whom have equal credentials (by equal I mean down to
the letter identical) the black man should be hired because he would have
had to have worked harder than his white opponent. Merit rewards effort,
the underprivileged must expend a greater effort to equal their privileged
counterparts therefore, the underprivileged should be given jobs in
instances in which they are equal to their privileged counterpart, which is
what affirmative action, in its pure form, seeks to do.
Delgado's title seems a bit misleading, given that only a brief part of
chapter four is devoted to talk of a coming race war, but upon closer
reading one realizes that the entire book is really a precursor to the race
war itself. Each of Delgado's criticisms revolves around a specific power
structure in America, a power structure that promises to change in the
coming century. Sociologists predict that by the year 2025 the term
"minority" will have to refer to whites in America. This is a particularly
frightening prospect for many whites in this country, especially when one
considers the past treatment of minorities by whites. One of Delgado's
friends, Kowalski, offers a theory concerning the various practices of
white (conservative) Americans; the various parts of the conservative
agenda are designed to incite a minority uprising. Much like a bully on a
playground, the white majority needs to reassert its power from time to
time, lest that power disappear. The various social service cutbacks and
disparate crime punishments (punishing street crime, which is primarily
perpetrated by blacks, harder than white collar crime) are designed to push
minorities to the breaking point, when they will have no choice but to
rebel. Once they rebel the, still powerful, white majority can quickly and
decisively put them back down. Furthermore, they can enact legislation
designed to "put the black people back in their place."
Though Delgado is to be commended for positing such an idea, he offers no
solutions. Are minorities to assume a politics of respectability taking the
various abuses heaped upon them by the power-holders? Or should they employ
some other strategy? The closest Delgado comes to positing a solution to
the various problems he and his friends discover is to advocate white
liberals working with white lower-class people and blue-collar workers to
show them that the minority people of America are not the root of their
problems. By working with the white lower-class white liberals would be
able to dispel some of the conservative power-holders strongest supporters,
at least in regards to race relations. While this is a good idea, and one
that I certainly advocate, it seems to circumvent rather then address the
problem. Even if white liberals are able to convince the lower-class that
minorities are not the root of the problems, unless whites and blacks work
hand-in-hand little will be accomplished in the way of fostering race
relations; each group will continue to view the other group as precisely
that, an "other". One of the best consequences of desegregation is the
increased interaction of white and minority children. My parents had no
friends of other colors, I had a few and when I have children my bet is
that they will have more than I will. Because of this I have a more
personal understanding of the similarities between black and white people.
When I see a black person I see a human being not a color, when people I
know who have not had the interactions I have had see black people they see
only a color. Until America realizes that people are basically the same,
with the same dreams and fantasies, we will continue to have poor race
relations in this country.
Despite the various disagreements I have with Delgado, I feel this is a
wonderful book and one that should be read by academics and civilians
alike. People in general have a great deal to gain from opening themselves
to as many avenues of insight as possible, Delgado has given us roadmaps to
several new intellectual trails.
Scott Berends email@example.com
Back to top...
Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 15:28:41 -0600
From: john kropke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The Coming Race War (John Kropke)
Delgado, Richard: The Coming Race War?. New York University Press 1996.
Reviewed by John Kropke email@example.com
The sky is falling. Everything you read, see, and hear is leading to the
coming race war. Affirmative action, once the perfect vote getter for both
parties, is now at the center of this debate. Why would the Republicans, who
use affirmative action for their own good want to completely eliminate it from
the political landscape. The answer Richard Delgado comes up with in The
Coming Race War, is that the white opinion makers are gearing up for a fight.
He makes the argument that the white law makers are provoking people of color
to strike out in anger, so the white law makers have a legitimate reason to
repress people of color and in return impose their own rules and
regulations at their own expense. Delgado weaves a story through three main characters.
Rodrigo, a brash, talented you graduate lawyer, whose the son of an
African-American serviceman and an Italian mother. The second character is
the "professor" a mentor to Rodrigo, who discusses politics, law, and current
events with his young protege. The third character is Lazlo Kowalsky. A
brilliant, white, young, conservative, who comes up with the theory of the
upcoming race war. Delgado writes the story through meetings and accidental
meetings between the three characters in airports, on committees, and at
conferences. They discuss a wide variety of topics that include empathy, legal
instrumentation, merit, affirmative action, cosmopolitanism and the American
Delgado starts by looking at empathy. Rodrigo explains to the professor
that as a society we really do not want empathy, but we want preferential
treatment. He makes this point by telling a story comparing white collar
crime and inner city crime, showing that the judicial system is unfair. The story
relates a young black male guilty of selling a small amount of drugs who
receives a harsh mandatory sentence and a white executive who gets caught
embezzling and receives a lighter sentence. This leads Rodrigo into
explaining false empathy, which is when a, "white believes he or she is identifying
with a person of color but in fact is doing so only in a slight, superficial way".
He gives the example of the settlement house movement. Where white ladies taught
immigrants how to cook and eat American food, and to behave according to
American customs. What Delgado is saying is that when whites are helping
blacks, they end up helping themselves, by telling people of color to act the
way a white person would act.
Delgado brings up that if a black women dropped her groceries, no one
would stop to help. Where as if a white women dropped her groceries, many
people would stop to help. Delgado calls this norm theory. Norm theory
explains why empathy decreases over time. People assume the black woman has
had a rough life, and they begin to think of that as her normal condition.
During the course of the story, Rodrigo comes up with two solutions to
false empathy for white reformers. One solution is the race traitor. The
race traitor is someone who identifies with blacks and even identifies
themselves as black. He rejects white privileges, even to the point of acting and speaking
as though he were black when situations dealing with race arise. the second
solution is subversion from within. This includes whites working with other
whites. Instead of working with black organizations, whites should work with
blue-collar, working class ethnic, and poor southern whites.
The angry white
male who helped bring the Republican revolution to power, should be on the
side of the liberals not the conservatives. If Democrats want to regain their
power, they will have to get these whites back on their side. Delgado makes a
good point when he states that whites have to work from within. The white
person can not stay quiet when he or she hears a racist comment. They need to
take a stand in front of family and friends that they will not be a part of
any hateful discussion. This may be a difficult step to take, but one that needs
to be taken for the evolvement of a better society.
I have a problem with what Delgado calls legal instrumentalism. Legal
instrumentalism calls for using the law as a social institution, a tool
that is useful for certain purposes and at certain times. He states that minorities
should invoke and follow the law when it benefits them and break or ignore it
when it gets in the way. Delgado brings up corporations that use the law for
their own advantages. A corporation who makes a product with problems, might
not fix it if they think they could get away with or, or that the cost of
compensation is cheaper than changing the product. We are a society that is
governed by laws. If we started deciding what laws each and everyone of us
would like to live by, this would not lead us to a better society but to
On merit and affirmative action Delgado uses the example that Rodrigo
received a promotion. A promotion that he later finds out was a special
opportunity appointment. Kowalsky brought it up to Rodrigo that his
appointment was part of the schools affirmative action policy. Kowalsky,
whose parents were poor and immigrated to this country when he was two, showed
how he was not eligible for this appointment, and why affirmative action is
unprincipled. He believes the answer for promotions and hirings is merit. He
also believes that affirmative action would end up stigmatizing workers who
received this treatment, as well as cause tension between whites and blacks.
Rodrigo believes that merit, like all formalist devices, "decontextualize the
transaction and so enable the powerful to exclude from consideration past
action, like slavery and female subjugation, prevent some from entering the
competition on equal terms". When dealing with affirmative action versus
merit, one could go around and around and still not come to a conclusion that
all would agree on. I do believe that whites have an advantage in today's
society. Delgado states correctly, in my eyes, that whites use a type of
networking to further one career. Through letters of recommendation, friends,
and family connections whites have an advantage over the competition.
However, I do agree with Delgado when he states that affirmative action shifts the cost
of racial remedies onto those least able to protest, blue collar whites. As
demonstrated, affirmative action versus merit, there is no easy answer.
The upcoming race war theory that Kowalsky comes up with has many small
battles that lead into a major war. As stated before, it starts with
eliminating affirmative action and the idea that it is a perfect vote getter
for Republicans. However, if the previous statement is true, why would the
Republicans want to eliminate it? The white law makers want to antagonize the
black community to strike out in anger, and that use it against them. Delgado
points out that the Republicans oppose arm control, and they favor keeping the
military budget high, even though we are at peace. He brings up the militias
and states that most are usually all white. He also talks about right-wing
fundamentalists having a fascination with the apocalypse. Everything Delgado
has brought up is true. Although, I think he gives white people to much
credit. In a day and age where everything is a conspiracy, this fits in
perfectly. It is the old trick, play on peoples' fears. Delgado does a good
job laying out the facts, maybe they are unrealistic, but interesting to say
Delgado talks about a new critique of identity politics called
cosmopolitanism. Cosmopolitanism is a person who, "refuses to define himself
in terms of location, ancestry, or even citizenship or language". They
believe it is dangerous to be loyal to ones narrow group. They also believe in
culture patrimony, that things such as archaeological, historical, and artistic
properties belong to the world, and should be appreciated by everyone, not
just the small group it came from. Delgado and I both think this is a terrible
idea. We believe a person should be Cosmopolitan, and embrace other cultures,
but without losing touch with your social and political communities. We
should appreciate those things that make us different.
In the final chapter of the book, Delgado has the professor deported
based on the so-called "new" immigration laws. This incident along with the
majority of the book, I find unrealistic. Though I found the book intriguing
at times, I came away the feeling of disbelief. I can not think of any reason
why I would tell anyone to read this book. It does nothing but make tension
higher, in an already tense situation.
Back to top...
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999 12:55:51 -0600
From: Gregg Dewein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The Coming Race War (dewein)....
Delgado, Richard; The Coming Race War? And Other Apocalyptic Tales of
America After Affirmative Action and Welfare; 1996 New York
by Gregg Dewein
The ongoing arguments, the two-sided stories, and the future plans of an
issue that may never be solved can all be stemmed out of a 6 letter word,
"racism". Racism is hatred or prejudice against another race. In Richard
Delgado's "the Coming Race War," the ongoing arguments and problems regarding false
empathy, affirmative action and merit, and the idea of a "race war" were
covered thoroughly. Delgado's storylike writing puts real situations in the
hands of friends and colleagues. These situations are basically plotting
blacks against whites, the privileged against the underprivileged, and
conservatives against liberals, which eventually leads to what Delgado's calls the
"coming race war."
Delgado's book accomplishes a lot in the sense that it shows how much
power the white conservative has in this country. The white conservative is
at the top of almost every economic, political, and legal realm in America.
Delgado puts into effect that the black man is equal in every way to the white
man. Whether it has to do with intelligence, class rank, credibility, or
personal skills, Delgado's feels that the black man can match the white man, but
may never get the chance. In this story, Delgado' writes how his
protégé student Rodrigo, who is now a distinguished law professor, has made his way
through adversity to get to where he is. In the book, Rodrigo is always
challenging the issue that blacks and whites, even though have the same credentials,
will never be looked at as equals. Another character who needs to be introduced is
a white conservative named Lazlo, who shares arguments with Delgado
and Rodrigo, but takes the complete opposite stance on many issues.
Speaking of the issues, the two most important features of this book are
the conversations, and arguments of false empathy and affirmative action.
This book has complex situations and seems to be written for
"best" understanding by intellectuals. It addresses issues that are present to everyday
culture but best translated to individuals of high intellectual standards. In
the first topic of "false empathy," which is what Delgado calls
the misunderstanding the whites, or more privileged people, make when trying
to relate the thoughts and feelings of blacks, or underprivileged. In
this chapter, I agree with Delgado in the way that two different types of races
don not know what it is like to be the other. A major argument is that
white liberal Democrats are empathetic for the black race when it comes to
major issues, especially during election time. In reality, the white
politician running for office has no idea what it's like to be on welfare or what
it's like to be a single mother in poverty. That mistaken understanding
leads to basically nothing but the hope for votes in an upcoming election. I
am a white male and have been brought up in a middle class society. I grew
up in a city that neighbors an intensely poor, all black community. I know
many blacks from that community, but I can honestly say that it was very
different from the atmosphere that I grew up in. I know that I can not relate
to the upbringing that my black friends were used to. I can not share the
experience of growing up in the way that they did. Delgado is right on with the
point he makes that most of conservative white America couldn't begin to
understand what it's like to be black.
Another important focal point that Delgado puts emphasis on is the
importance of merit and how it's used in America today. Delgado describes merit
in his book in terms of acquiring job based on credentials, skills, and
experience. The problem that Delgado has on the subject of merit is comparing the
skills of whites against blacks, and if their is any special treatment of who
gets the job between the two. In the comparison, Delgado speaks of how
whites have the advantage when it comes to gaining merit because of family traditions
and financial capabilities. The white kids go the best schools, get the
better letters' of recommendation, and know the right people to make a better
life for themselves. Delgado argues how blacks have to work twice as hard,
and have to do even more to be equal in terms of merit. He mentions that
whites who have the same education, same levels of work experience, and same
recommendations as blacks do will get a job because they are white.
He also argues that minorities should be given jobs when the credentials of both
the minority and the majority are the same because the minority has to work
harder and overcome more obstacles. Affirmative action is the result of this
Affirmative action gives the minority a job, not necessarily for
preferential treatment, but to give the minority a chance to excel in society as
well. In the book, Lazlo, the white conservative friend of Rodrigo, reveals that
even though he came from a poor upbringing, he was not eligible for an
affirmative action position because he was not a minority. This is where the book
gets heated, and leads to the "coming race war." I feel the same
way that Delgado feels in that appointment should be acquired through the grounds of merit.
In terms of acquiring a position through affirmative action, I feel is unfair
to the whites. Even though some blacks see that the nation still as a
lop-sided surface, I feel that right now we are overcoming that hump of job
Job placement should be based on merit, and merit alone. The color of
a person's skin should not matter. People in America, especially
uneducated America, are changing, and realizing that hiring the best person for the
job, no matter if they are a minority or not, deserves the position.
The book leads up to what I think is the main point that Delgado has
been trying to get at the whole time, which is the idea of the coming race
war. In chapter four, the argument starts out with by presenting the view of the
white conservative saying it's unfair to incorporate that whites today are
personally responsible for the slavery long ago. The whites today do
not own slaves. The white people who did those horrible things are long
dead. Delgado replies by saying that whites fail to notice that they benefit
from the system of racial injustice that existed earlier in a raw form, and
today in a more refined, veiled one. Also in chapter four, the
conservative Lazlo reveals a theory on the coming race war.
He says since conservative whites
are supposed to become the minority, then they are going to do all they can
to stay in power. As Delgado puts it, it's one of the oldest tricks in
the world, provoke your enemy until he responds, then slap him down
decisively. This whole situation would then cause violence and rioting, and
therefore having the white conservative leaders to push the blacks back. Almost
like the sixties all over again.
The whole idea of the Coming race war has some interesting points. I
as a white male would have never seen it that way. I feel that as time
goes on race relations will get better. Despite the separated white
supremacists, and the off-the-wall militias, white America has better knowledge of
minorities, and is more respectful towards them. The issues that are brought up are
strong arguments, but to extreme. I mean extreme by saying he is a paranoid
liberal that feels he needs to watch his back or he too will go down. I feel
if whites become a minority, then it simply means that America will become
more diversified. Different people will emerge, just like they have
changed from the slavery era. There will be a more diversified legislature,
possibly even a new political party structure. The reason that I chose this book
was simply because of its title. The "Coming Race War" seemed like it
would lead up to a powerful conclusion. But it really didn't. This book overall
was interesting if you have a great interest in the issues that I mentioned. It was
a different book to read because it's basically a story setting.
Delgado is supposedly the aging professor that's actually learning more from his
past students and younger colleagues.
Overall, I think Delgado's just makes this book seem like it's here
to make people aware of a crazy conspiracy, and that blacks may never get their
fair share. I feel that now is the time where the scale of the races comes
level. The past has hurt blacks, put you can't live in the past. The future
is what is important. I don't think we as Americans should think of it as the
comingof a race war, but as the coming of a race merger.
Back to top...
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 11:09:08 -0800
From: Mary Caryl Moran <email@example.com>
Subject: Delgado,The Coming Race War
The Coming Race War
Rodrigo, a graduate professor, has recently flown from Italy back to the
United States to meet “the Professor” and to discuss his future.
Rodrigo is thinking about obtaining his advanced law degree in hopes of becoming
a law professor in the future. Rodrigo’s father is from African-American
decent and his half-brother was a civil rights scholar and activist.
Despite the age difference between the professor and Rodrigo, the two have
become close friends. They come together on occasion to discuss affirmative
action, racial politics, black crime, relations between black persons and women
and other subjects under this realm of discourse.
The story takes place in airports, on committees, and at conferences. The
individuals discuss this range of politics in order to learn from one another,
In the beginning they discuss such topics such as false empathy and why people
of color cannot trust white liberals.
The story begins with Rodrigo walking in the professor’s door. He
begins by telling the professor That he had been kidnapped. A bunch of kids that
were actually members of an anti-British terrorist group were responsible for
this abduction. At some point in time Rodrigo was deported back to Italy and
then spent some time in Ireland. During this time, he bought a title of nobility
from a member of the British aristocracy. The kidnappers as it turned out
thought that he was the duke of Crenshaw. When they saw him they knew that this
was not him and therefore they released him.
The professor and Rodrigo began speaking about empathy or rather a false
empathy that the white race has exhibited. This false empathy is exhibited when
the white race believes that he or she can identify with a person of color, but
results in a superficial way. Derrick Bell was cited as saying, “lawyers
that would work on behalf of black students would often pursue a strategy such
as the desegregation of schools when this was not what the client wanted.
Instead, they wanted the better schools with more resources.”
The false empathy theory states that when a white empathizes with a black
individual, it’s always a white person envisioning a black person that
they would like to be if they were black with a few exceptions. This person
would have the same wants, needs, perspectives and history as the white man. In
other words a white person cannot understand what a Black, Hispanic or Asian
wants because they have not gone through the same experiences that they have
Rodrigo tries to explain his theory through the norm theory. “Norm
theory states that our reaction to another person in distress varies according
to the normalcy or abnormalacy of his or her plight in our eyes.” His
example is that if you see a white woman being evicted from her home, you would
feel sorry for her because this is abnormal for her. On the other hand, if a
black woman was in the same situation then you would not feel sorry for her. The
logic behind the theory, is that the black culture has a tradition of having a
rough lifestyle and therefore this situation would be considered normal or
accepted in society. Rodrigo believes that norm theory explains why empathy is
decreasing overtime, even though it seems to favor the person of power (in this
case, the white race).
The solution to operating in an imperfect world lies in three parts. First,
we must realize that we all come from different ethnic backgrounds and cannot
truly identify with what any other group has gone through to ant extent.
Next, we must implement one of two strategies. The first role is for the
white race to become race traitors. An example that illustrates the race traitor
role is exhibited when a white man encounters a circle of other whites while
they are telling racist jokes. The white man or woman is supposed to step
foreword and say “ I am actually black and I found that joke to be
really offensive.” The intention of the race traitor is to not only oppose
the racism, but to also designed to destroy it from within.
The second plan of action is for whites to work with others in their ethnic
group to get rid of racism. The speak of a white radical who had sided with the
Black Panthers. This individual was a member of the upper class and therefore
knew that he had unspoken limitations that inflicted upon him. The older
professor believes that this is a sign if progress. Rodrigo on the other hand,
felt that the white radical would have better served the black community by
devoting himself to working within his own race, primarily the white working
The debates change location once again to find our main characters at the
airport where the two colleagues are reunited. The discussion begins with
Derrick Bell’s analysis of the Brown v the Board of Education decision and
a term called social realism. Rodrigo wants the black community to embrace the
optimism. If the law does not work then look for another alternative that suits
the cause instead. Look for support within the communities and other surrounding
People such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King believed that they did not
have to obey unjust laws that did not protect them, not harm them. Rodrigo
believes that civil rights should be approached in a nonidealogical fashion.
Only choose the legal route when it is beneficial, and pursue other means if
The next destination where the men meet is at the New Professor’s
Conference. Rodrigo and the professor attempt to examine the myth of merit and
the role that it plays in the power structure. Essentially, merit is a system,
based on choosing people mearly on their superior talent. The job or scholarship
would go to the person with the highest levels of competence with of course the
best qualifications. This sounds like a great idea, but Rodrigo does not
feel that it was implemented in a fair fashion. He calls merit “the white
people’s affirmative action.” He also believes that the selection
process is racially biased.
The main concern is over the use of standardized machine graded tests. They
contain information that only white people would know because of their
backgrounds. He goes on further to say that the tests are not fair because there
is not enough time to give the questions any rational thought and that they are
designed for linear thinking. Therefore, with all of this information in mind,
Rodrigo believes that the preference will always be given to the highest scoring
students which are not the black students.
If these tests are essentially, biased then why do Asian students do so
well? Is it because they have studied the white race and have mastered it enough
that they can beat them at their own game? I am not sure of whether standardized
tests are biased, but this theory sounds a little far fetched to me.
Rodrigo says that “traditional merit ensures mediocrity”. He
exemplifies this through the auto industry, the police department and multiple
choice tests. He says that in the auto industry many people have their degrees
and that they are not being applied on the job.
This whole conversation of merit evolved from the fact that Rodrigo had
gotten his appointment based on the school’s affirmative action program.
This type of program is referred to as opportunity appointment. Kowalsky, a
colleague of Rodrigo accidentally slipped and told him that he got is job as a
result of affirmative action. He was not being rude about the situation, he
thought that Rodrigo knew about it and would want to talk about it. Kowalsky,
told him that he too, had applied for the appointment. His parents immigrated to
this country when he was two, were poor, and lived in a rough neighborhood. He
was denied. Rodrigo as he explains it was fortunately African American and was
eligible for the preferential treatment.
Kowalsky was against affirmative action because it gave an edge to people
on the basis of what he thought was a morally irrelevant, race. He believed that
everyone would always assume that African-American people would be given
positions that had inferior credentials. The truth is quite the contrary,
minorities have to have overwhelming credentials to compete in the market.
The two men agreed that treating unequal people as though they were equals
is just as much of a violation of equality as treating equals unfairly. This in
turn allows the winners to stay winners. They believe that they have won fair
and square. They could always say that there was no preferential treatment when
they know that there is.
The race war was a theory that Kowalsky foresees in the political arena. We
all know of the ongoing battle between the liberals and the conservatives. The
current issue is whether to get rid of affirmative action. If the conservatives
eliminate the programs then they will not get any votes. Therefore they want to
cut it, but they want to leave it up to the liberals to eliminate it all
together. If the liberals do this then they are seen as the bad guys and the
conservatives are interpreted as being morally superior.
He also believes that this is a great time to pick a fight. Caucasians are
depleting in numbers and by the next century they will no longer be in the
ruling majority. This is what you would assume to think. It is true that the
voting power will shift to the minorities such as the Blacks, Latinos and
Asians. The white response to all of this is, provoke the enemy then slap them
down hard. Increase misery until hell breaks loose. It will indeed run loose.
This time will not be like the 60’s era, where there was legislation that
helped minorities. Instead, the opposite will occur. “The country will put
in place repressive measures increasing police surveillance, criminal
sedition’s, and providing for white martial law.” White power will
then be ensured by law that is similar to South America.
The evidence that he provides for this is seen through welfare cut-backs,
voting rights retrenchment, withdrawal of scholarships. Most importantly there
will be the elimination of affirmative action.
I did not enjoy reading this book at all. I felt as though the author was
jumping around from place to place too often. There were too many times that the
story would be interrupted with some kind of background nonsense. The author did
not substantiate his beliefs or solutions with and hard statistics. Yes, I have
heard these arguments before but where is he going with them. The solutions are
there but they are completely absurd. The author is obviously fed up with the
white race in general, and I am in turn with this author.<BR><BR>
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Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 19:59:40 CST
From: ROBERT MILLER <ltrobmil@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Delgado,The Coming Race War
Two things strike me while reading this review. The first is this
notion of false empathy. It is a simple distinction of definitions.
The answer to the question of whether or not white people can have
empathy for black plight in the U.S. is a resounding yes. Empathy, by
definition is a type of compassion that results when individuals have
not experienced the hardships of others, but still feel pain and sorrow.
Sympathy, on the other hand, is a type of compassion that results when
caring people have experiences the pain of others and can call upon
those memories when relating with another. It may not be possible for
white people to feel sympathy, but it is most certainly possible for
them to experience true empathy.
According to the review, the false empathy has led concerned white
Americans make policy choices that are not what the minorities need.
Later in the discussion, however, he seems to be very critical of the
same policies, taking this argument a step further. Its like a New
World Order black helicopter in Montana. The whites in America were not
only exhibiting false empathy, but they were actually setting up
minorities, so that they could eventually crack down on them violently.
This is perhaps the most ridiculous of all. Of course, there are
genuinely good intentions behind the progressive policies.
What could lead anyone to think otherwise?
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Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 13:42:23 -0600
From: Mary Caryl Moran <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Delgado,The Coming Race War
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I agree with what you are saying . What I said in the review is not my
opinion, but that of the authors. The author believes that you and I cannot
understand what the black community wants because we have not experienced
the same things as black people. That is what he is trying to say. He also
goes on to say that too many times white people think that they know what
blacks want when in actuality they have no idea. An example of this I
explained in my review concerning seperate but equal.
Thank you for your interesting question.
Date: Sat, 6 Mar 1999 11:47:33 -0500
From: Teeomm Williams <solfyr@EDUC.UMASS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Delgado,The Coming Race War
I havent had the time to read my email as frequently as I would like as of
late. Still a few brief comments . . .
#1 - EXCELLENT point about empathy vs. sympathy. The two are, in fact,
very different processes with often radically different results. Though I
have not read the text (but im sure going to!) perhaps we should attempt to
discern the authors overall point . . .
> The whites in America were not >only exhibiting false empathy, but they were actually setting up >minorities, so that they could eventually crack down on them violently.
>This is perhaps the most ridiculous of all.
#2. Is this REALLY so ridiculous?? Come on peoples!!! Amreican history
is replete with NUMEROUS examples of this. One has only to pick a source
of information on the civil rights movement that goes beyond King's "I have
a dream" to see instances of where local, state, and even the federal
government has acted either overtly or covertly, or acted in collusion with
actions that set up African Americans. Wanna go a little further?
Tuskeegee experiments ring a bell? (if not, black men were intetionally
given the syphallis virus). Look around a little and u will find a welath
of information on the subject; its a historical pattern. This theme does
not just apply to African Americans; Native peoples were decimated as were
mexicans, Asisans, etc. Takaki's "A Different Mirror" is helpful in
The key here if from whose perspective are we examining this information??
From the perspective of someone white at the time perhaps it was far
fetched that the government was involved a "conspiracy" to rid this
continent of the "red savages". Yet "manifest destiny" was in effect, and
made itself evident individually, culturally, and institutionally. From
the Native Americans perspective this was not so far fetched. . . it was
an everyday reality. As an Africam American I make an intentional effort
to see the world through my OWN eyes and perspective instead of the
hegemonic perspective that I am expected to swallow. Looking at these
issues from the historical perspective of my people, lemme tell ya, it aint
so ridiculous. >Of course, there are genuinely good intentions behind the progressive
policies. > >What could lead anyone to think otherwise?
*** SEE ABOVE.***
As an African American in a nation that has historicaly been, and is still,
hostile in many ways to my people, I cant afford to assume that there are
good intentions behind anything. It is this critical thinking and healthy
skepticism that has helped to get us this far, and until we live in a world
that I percieve to be unbaised and non-threatneing I aint about to give it up.
Further, simply becuase there are good intentions does not necessarily make
it an unbiased action. "The road to hell . . . " as the saying goes. For
example, if a company was trying to save money to prevent from closing its
plant and losing lots of jobs, and they decided to lay off some workers,
perhaps that was a good intention. If those lay offs come mostly from the
lowest level of employees (as they usually do),and if the lowest level is
disproportionally made up of people of color (as it usually is) then an
action that originally had good intentions has racialized effects. That is
how instituional racism (and oppression in general) works.
In addition I have to be honest - most of the racism tha I have experienced
in my life aint been from the Klan. It has been from everyday "normal"
white folks who probably go to church on Sundays and who probably had good
So do me a favor . . . be empathetic for a minute, and you tell me, what
would make someone think otherwise?
Yours,In peace . . .
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