Recommendation: Uncle Tom

“I remember my dad used to be hard on us, making us fold clothes and washing dishes properly. And if we didn’t, we got a whooping. If we didn’t ’em right, or if we didn’t do ’em when he told us to do ’em. And I didn’t like him when he did that to us. My dad made me a responsible man by doing that. And it just really made me wonder like what if he wasn’t there?”

I never got racism. Ever since watching that Star Trek – The Original Series episode with two aliens, one white on the left, black on the right, and the other vice versa, it just didn’t make sense.

Yeah, when Star Trek was “enlightening” (TOS/TNG/DS9) it did shape my world view.

But I am interested in the issue, as I don’t understand it. And I recently ordered a DVD of “Uncle Tom“. And I can highly recommend it. It does have a couple of really great (i.e., “it completely nails what I am thinking, but much, much better than I could ever phrase it myself) quotations. Among others:

“A couple of renowned sociologists at the Columbia University School of Social Work And their theory was, if we could separate work from income, it would make men redundant, and if we can just remove the stigma from welfare and entice more people to flood the welfare system, it will bankrupt cities and the country. […] To recruit people into the welfare system, we relaxed the rules. If a woman had to declare paternity in order to qualify for welfare, the ACLU sued and said this is a violation of our privacy rights. They also said that the nuclear family , Ozzie and Harriet, was Eurocentric and therefore racist. The women’s movement concurred with that. The Black Power movement also agreed. Millions of blacks in a period of less than four years flooded into the welfare system in major cities. At a time when the unemployment rate for blacks in New York for males was less than 4%.
What you then saw is a consequence of separating work from income. The out-of-wedlock births in the black community began to skyrocket. Went from under 25% to 70%.”
Robert L. Woodson


“When I was growing up, fathers led. And you knew not to be fighting and [hard to understand], because you had respect for the elderly, and you respect yourself because you represented your parents when you’re out there. But that representation is no longer there because the man is not there.”
Jesse Lee Peterson

and much, much closer to home this one:

“I was working for the Department of the Navy. The same day that I started, another white gentleman named Robert started working there also. We had very similar jobs. So the first 12 months, I got outstanding performance four quarters in a row. Second year, outstanding performance four quarters in a row. And Robert got outstanding performance. But Robert was getting his GS salary increase at least to months sooner than me. So, I went to Wayne, my supervisor, and said, ‘Robert and I are both doing a great job.’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ But why is he getting little increases quicker than me?’ He said, ‘He has a Master’s degree.’ I said, ‘Oh, it’s not because he’s white?’ ‘Nope, he has a Master’s degree.’ So, you know what I did? I didn’t get mad. I went and got me a Master’s degree. Went back, sat down with Wayne. I said, ‘Well, I got a Master’s degree. That says next time you have opening for a promotion,’ I said, ‘Keep me in mind. See you around.’ And not long after that, they had a special project, called a rocket assisted projector. They had to have someone, who was gonna be the GS 13 supervisor and mathematician, to do the special ballistics on this rocket assisted projector. I got the promotion. And I had eight white people working for me. It was all about performance, not the color of your skin. So, since I now had that Master’s degree and I had proved myself, I got the job. When I decided to leave Dahlgren, never forget the department head. And he called me up for an exit interview. And I’ll never forget Ross, I think he’s deceased now. He said, ‘You know, you have taught me something.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘I had never worked with a black person before. You taught me, don’t judge somebody by the color of their skin.'”
Herman Cain in “Uncle Tom”

Seriously, I think confirmation bias gets a lot of people. And if your first and *only* stop is racism, well, you find ‘evidence’ for it pretty easily. But sometimes, it’s other things. Like the degree a person has (which you cannot see), or some quirk or even very-unfortunate-olfactory-interaction-between-your-body-and-the-clothes-you-wear.

You get the idea. As the old saying goes:

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
Abraham Maslow

If all you see is race, every problem seems to be due to racism (and yeah, sexism is much the same).

So yeah, a movie well worth watching. (Only thing I really dislike: The subtitles are sometimes incorrect. And it makes it really hard to transcribe what is said a couple of times. It pays to invest a bit more here. Seriously.)

BTW, the Rubin Report video that is mentioned — and kudos to Dave Rubin here — is here.



(*) I couldn’t find the person during the end credits (I am seriously bad with faces, I look for other clues, here, the T-Shirt). If you know the name, please drop me a line.