“The Unequal Opportunity Race” was conceived and written by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a brilliant Black scholar and Professor of Law, and was produced by the African American Policy Forum, which has a stellar website with enormous amounts of education on social justice and affirmative action. Crenshaw and her ideas will be revisited on this blog, but for now we’re going to focus on what’s going down in this video. For the few whites who might have a background in this subject matter, the material might be self-explanatory, but for those whites that might be thinking “what the fuck is this about?” here it is:
The changing digital screen displaying historical dates in the background begins with 1492. This was the year, if you know/remember the rhyme, that Christopher Columbus “sailed the ocean blue,” but more importantly it marks the beginning of European invasion and colonization of Indigenous populations around the globe. This is why the white folks in the race take off from this point in time, and the PoC in the race are held back until the screen reads 1964. In this year, The Civil Rights Act was passed, making employment discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” illegal.
So why was this law, and other forms of affirmative action, necessary? Because US institutions such as employment, education, housing, property ownership, healthcare, etc. were designed by whites for whites at the intentional exclusion of PoC. When you understand this, you understand why affirmative action, as the video says, “levels” the playing field by creating access for PoC to these institutions. But as history (and the video) shows us, although this law may have made the practice of discrimination illegal, it did not completely eliminate it. That is why this race, and US social opportunities, are unequal.
In the centuries between these two dates, wealth and assets accumulate for white folks through their ownership of property, slaves, and commerce; this is why the white men age as they go around the track and pass their growing assets on to future generations. It’s important to note when the words “connections,” “privilege,” “wealth,” and “Old boy Network” appear on the screen, and the moving walkway is installed on the track, the white woman in the race is still running on her own next to the white male. Even though white women may not have the same access to this “Old boy Network,” they are still in the race only slightly behind white men. Although they do not have male privilege, they still have white privilege. There were no graves, shark-infested pools, rocks, or dead ends (symbolic of racism) on their side of the track.