I posted this in response to a post on Facebook but i felt it should be here instead.
there's a default position in debate which is to assume the equality of both presented positions, i.e. Creationism vs Evolution. One position is supported by facts, the other by deeply held belief but, in debate, strong belief and fact are treated as equal. This propels debate by artificially elevating the unfounded position to that of the supported one. But it is a debate that can never conclude. The premise of equality for both positions is, of course, fatally flawed.
In the discussion of black-white relations in the US a similar paradigm is in effect, to whit: yes, we all agree there is discrimination but everybody gets a taste of it so "pretending" that what happens to blacks is somehow unique is due, not to the facts of ongoing collected experience but, rather, to programming and indoctrination.
This position allows the beneficiaries of the social imbalance to ignore or minimize that imbalance while continuing to look in their mirrors and see themselves as morally upright people.
Whenever we counter this position with actual facts– and there are stacks of them– we bump up against the same emotional wall that science does when it smacks into creationism.
That is, reality and rationality bumping against an irrational and emotionally arrived-at position can't knock the emotional position down.
People have too much invested in this sort of irrational belief structure for such pesky things as facts to change their minds. Facts don't and can never matter in this context which is why the problems persist and fester.
While these people– died-in-the-wool, self-avowed racists- are in the minority, it is not, as many would have it, either a small minority nor is it a powerless one.
If left to their own devices the extremists would die out but the problem is not the black hats but the grey ones, those people who do not consider themselves to be racists and have a deeply buried interest in never ever questioning that belief.
These are the people who give the extremists tacit permission to behave as they will, provided their ugliness never rises to the level of public embarrassment for the "morally upright."
This the status quo in the USA and it is precisely why little flare-ups like what we have just seen in Ferguson are not only inevitable but predictable.
Anybody who doesn't see this coming or is surprised when it does is holding the blinders on their own eyes.
Even guys "like me"- successful, well-educated, intelligent, entirely law-abiding- have to navigate the hurdles of covert racism in nearly every public venue we enter.
This sounds hyperbolic to people who do not have an interest in actually looking at this issue without blinders and, sadly, those people are, very much, the majority.