The Myth of the Meritocracy redux: You are not better than other people no matter what you think!

01 Jul

good luck wreath 4

I have been fascinated for some time by what i see as the right leaning people in my life’s seeming callousness and indifference to the rights and opportunities of other people. Increasingly their mantra seems to be competition, crabs in a barrel climbing on top of each other as the great DuBois said, and animus towards anyone they see as being in competition with them or ,heaven forfend, after something they want or have. They seem to live in some deluded state of self-congratulations about having “made it.” As one of my leftie friends point out they seem to equate making it with having amassed money and property only. Not any good deeds,not any philanthropy, not any charity, just what they have collected or are trying to collect. The image of Uriah Heep keeps coming into my mind when I talk to them. Crouched over their horde of cash and property, their fingerless gloves grasping their checkbook and deeds and viewing their possessions as not only proof that they are superior, but that they should be admired for their “hard work” and cleverness. One of my rightie friends informed me that social justice and freedom are antithetical, seems you cannot have equal opportunity without the bad ones dragging the good ones down to their level. I am not sure why he could not envision a world where the more fortunate pull the less fortunate up with them, but I do not think that is congruent with his world view. In his world some animals are more equal than others and he likes it that way, considering himself one of the more equal group.

Some  people have nothing but contempt for the poor and will regale you at length with how they themselves  climbed out of poverty,  or being an orphan, or being from the wrong side of the tracks,  not one soul helped them not one ever, they did it all themselves etc . These proclamations of good old American effort are usually accompanied by some pseudo modesty which also serves to reinforce the fact that they are superior in some way, ” If I can do it, anyone can do it.”  Of course, that is not what they actually mean. This is shorthand for ” see I overcame all my obstacles, if you were half the person I am you could and would too! ”  Hard work is always mentioned, but oddly things like privilege, white, economic, family support, etc., never are. There is no sympathy or empathy for those who have less or are less successful, it is their own darn fault for being inferior. This is, of course, the newest, but very familiar form of Social Darwinism.

Some of the black folks who fall into this genre are the worst. They are so busy vilifying other blacks who did not do as well as they did, thereby reassuring their white betters that they are not like “those” black people, the ungrateful ones,  that they come across as something odd, a black racist against other blacks, commonly known as an Uncle Tom. See Clarence Thomas and his ilk for this genre of person, someone who has firmly internalized racism and is so certain that blacks are inferior ,and so sure that that actually includes them, that they spend their time trying to distance themselves from other blacks by out-racisting the white racists. ” You are right those are some trifling Negroes” their attitude and allegiances seem to say to their white friends and supporters. I have often said you can get very rich in this country by standing up as a black person and telling white people there is nothing wrong with the way blacks are treated in this country it is all an excuse on their part to keep from thriving. Racism, we all know is a figment of the black mind exacerbated by white liberals engaging in and falling prey to undeserved white guilt  ( Uncle Clarence expressed his belief in this when he voted to disenfranchise thousands of black people recently) . This pathology seems particularly strong in someblacks who have dark skin and kinky hair. It is not an indicator, most people with dark skin and kinky hair are not self-haters. But, I have a theory, untried, unr-esearched at least quantitatively, but quite well researched qualitatively, these people, almost exclusively male, have been taught that they are inferior in looks and in intellect. They are so happy and grateful that some white people have found them acceptable, have not rejected them despite their blackness, which they hate, that they will do anything to please them as a reward for their favor.

This narcissistic behavior, ” Look what I did, look how pitiful you are, I beat you, ha ha.”, finds its roots philosophically if not racially in the roots of the pro-slavery writers like String-Fellow and James Henry Hammond. A lot of the prejudice, stereotypes and hateful rhetoric directed at blacks comes from the calculated writings of these men trying to justify holding other human beings as property.  In order not to be viewed as evil themselves ( which of course they were) they had to prove the slaves unworthy, inferior and lacking in skills to even take care of themselves, that they were born and created to serve whites and that it was a favor to “civilize” them by having them work for free for the profit of their civilized masters who beat, raped and often killed them. The pro-slave writers knew better. James Henry Hammond, one of the most prolific of the writers of this scree fell in love, not just lust, with one of his black female slaves and when his white wife threw down the gauntlet of it was the slave or her, he sent his wife away. ( Read the book “The Diary of James Henry Hammond: Secret and Sacred” for more detail) . All the while writing some of the nastiest, most vile prose about how inferior and animalistic blacks were.The slave owners knew that blacks were not dumber or more violent or more hyper-sexual than white people, but they had to 1) justify taking away their freedom and stealing their work, and 2) make poor whites and their women afraid of black people, especially black men. A lot of pro-slavery writing emphasized the sexual appetites of the  black man ( this while the white men were popping down to the cabins to rape the black women daily) and how they lusted for white women. Unchecked they would rape every white female they could find, probably more than once! This was a double fear, getting raped by a black men meant the child that might result would be of color. Even if you were raped that might be enough to get you thrown out on your ear and ostracized. You were spoiled goods.

The modern heirs of the slave owners, black, white and otherwise, because it is an endemic disease, not confined to one group, still try to justify their supremacy by suggesting they are better, or more diligent, or more intelligent, or more skilled than others. WRONG!  Any success anyone has is not 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, it is 30% effort, 30% timing, 20% access and 20% plain ass luck. I have sat on dozens of search committees, some for positions that paid more than I made. One particular search with a six figure beginning salary garnered 176 applications. The search committee had three months to accomplish our task. That meant reviewing 176 applications, paring them down to 60 within a week, paring the 60 down within the next week to 20, paring the 20 down to 9 the next week for phone interviews, paring those 9 down to 3 to bring to campus and making a recommendation after we made hotel, flight and forum and meeting arrangements and then ranking the candidates for our recommendation. Would you like to know some of the criteria used to filter those applications? ( it was 176 after a secretary had gone through and established they all had the education and experience required to be considered) . One committee I sat on rejected an application because the person wrote ” criteria” when the word should have been “criterion.” Do you honestly think this person would have been worse at the job because they used the plural rather than the singular?   One person made the initial cut because they indicated in the cover letter they had grown up on a street called Maple Street. One of the committee members had also grown up on a street called Maple in another city and state. By the time we had reviewed 176 vita they all began to blur. We each had our favorites and for different reasons.  This committee member advocated for this candidate because of their commonality in childhood street names and the person was kept in the pool. They did not eventually win the position, but they could have. That person would not have been chosen because of qualifications but because of street nomenclature.

So, if you have a good job, good ! There are hundreds of people who could do your job as well as or better than you. If you have a lot of money, good! There are thousands of people who have more money than you do and thousands more who could if they thought money was as important as you do. Ditto for cars, spouses, children, cats, dogs, houses and gardens, six-packs, hair, skin, bling and degrees. Human beings have different ideas about what making it entails and no one person or group of people get to decide what that is. You made it because you were luckier or more privileged than someone else, either physically or some other way. You can no more take credit for being smarter than someone ( see above) as having come from your work solely than a 7 foot tall man can take credit for being tall.

What you can do is learn to see the value in every single person, including yourself, that has nothing to do with what they have or know or do. Until you learn that lesson you have not made it, you just think you have.



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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


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