Politics, Racism and Social Evolution

My grandfather was an active and proud Republican; he was also a little bit racist. Not N-word racist (that would be my biological father), but it was pretty clear he saw people of color as lesser individuals, and problematic as a community. A little bit “feel sorry for them” and a little bit “wish they would go away”.

However, the Republican Party my grandfather held so dear has now clearly embraced N-word-level racism in deed, if not in language. Their efforts to sustain, and where possible expand, discrimination and oppression on the basis of race is overwhelming and threatens to hold back the promise of America from all of us.

They are taking their playbook from the words of President Lyndon Baines Johnson when he famously said: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

While economically successful whites think that “thoughts and prayers”, donations to non-profits, and hiring “chief diversity officers” are enough to assuage their claims to support equity and inclusion, they continue to vote to protect family wealth over contribution to community. Economically disadvantaged whites are subject to psyops to overlook their own suppression and react in anger to the sleight of hand that presents social equity as their loss of benefits and opportunities. They are willing to support elected representatives who sustain their ill health and poverty and block their prospects for the future, as long as these officials support their superiority in the racial divide.

These efforts have their foundation in the Republicans longstanding commitment to suppressing or marginalizing the votes of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). Whether through creating barriers to voting or manipulating electoral geographic boundaries that do not accurately reflect the nature of community, their efforts are anathema to the nature of democratic representation. You cannot be the “party of the working people” if the only working people you support are white.

As long as we put the burden on overcoming racial discrimination on those who are its victims, our society — and economic — will never flourish. There is a limited amount of energy available to us, as individuals and as a society, and if we are socially engineering ourselves to dedicate a substantial proportion of it to sustaining inequities, we are impeding our productive and positive evolution.

Think about all the time and effort we waste fighting over the power to hurt others.

Ecosystems that seem to achieve a steady state and become self-perpetuating are referred to as “climax communities’ — a reference to having reached a level of maturity. Climax communities can resist change; the forces are so strong, that, when stressed, the community makes desperate attempts to achieve equilibrium and impede evolutionary progress — even when equilibrium is impossible, and change is unavoidable.

Our society has become a “climax community” grounded in Euro-centric standards of behavior and ‘respectability”. Under this umbrella, BIPOC are accepted if they are present in color, but not present in culture. Efforts to subordinate or marginalize BIPOC are directly related to the loss of control provided by dominance of Euro-centric social standards. “It’s OK to be (insert race or culture) here, just don’t act (insert race or culture) here.

The science of ecology has shown us that the most diverse communities are the healthiest communities; the relationship between species diversity and community stability highlights the need to maintain the greatest richness possible within communities. Without changes in the environment, species diversity is impossible. Such change must create opportunity for marginalized species to be fully present in the ecosystem: some current members of the population will adapt; others, who resist the changes, may not survive.

Habitat structure directly influences the diversity, richness and composition of our communities While habitat typically refers to physical environment, habitat also refers to the interconnected environments — physical, virtual, and social — in which we live. This includes our systems of government, public services, media, healthcare and other social structures such as standards of respectability. Community assembly, species coexistence, and the maintenance of biodiversity are all habitat dependent.

Habitat structure can be used to sustain the oppression and discrimination of individuals and groups. While evolution is generally considered to be a gradual process in which interactions with the environment shape generational changes in species (or generate new species), ecosystems with limited diversity are less able to adapt to changing environmental conditions. As such, destruction events will ultimately force the opportunity for ‘ecological succession”.

Such events can be prevented by actively disassembling structures whose function is to support and sustain harmful social constructs. Such an effort will allow for a more stable and successful ecosystem; while some members of the population may have to adapt, the benefits of such diversity accrue to everyone, and support a more productive and positive future for the ecosystem that is American society.

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