More White Racism & The Current Financial Crisis

The current financial crisis turns out to be quite an opportunity for exposing the modus operandi of white privilege and white racism. In this short clip (3:05), Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota), you can see and hear this white woman blame “blacks and other minorities” for the current financial crisis. Specifically, she refers to something known as “CRA,” the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. The clip begins with a shot of the (rather empty) chamber, then the camera turns to her:

In fact, Rep. Bachmann is wrong and is simply re-iterating conservative talking points, as Think Progress notes. Bachmann’s assertion is based on a series of racist lies, nicely dissected here by Sara Robinson. Bachmann’s strategy of blaming black folks “and other minorities” is an old, racist trope that even mainstream news media types are beginning to recognize. (This speech earned Bachmann the dubious distinction of Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” award on last night’s broadcast.) So, this is how white racism and white privilege are working together here. Economically privileged white men built, implemented and profited from this elaborate financial scheme, a good deal of it on the backs of people of color and their mortgages. Then, other privileged whites – like Michelle Bachmann – come along and do the ideological work of blaming the people at the bottom of several, interlocking social hierarchies (race, class, gender) for the economic collapse. Meanwhile, the 400 richest Americans continue to get even richer and can easily claim that “they’re not racist” and convince themselves that they are not implicated in this deeply unequal and unjust system.


  1. Joe

    It is striking that the white white-collar criminals who have brought down the economy are NOT focused on in the media, or even sought out, named, and interviewed. We have the “culture of poverty” as a concept, but not the “culture of white male greed.” I wonder why there is no focus on their values, IQ, venality, immorality?

  2. adia

    Joe, that is a good point. You can bet if black people were responsible, every singe one genuinely at fault would have their faces plastered all over the media for MONTHS. Then black people who had nothing to do with the collapse but happen to work in the finance industry, be interested in the finance industry, or just able to spell “finance industry” would be vilified in the media. Following that, everyday black people would be hassled and criticized to their faces and behind their backs by white colleagues, associates, and some strangers. Finally, in the end we’d be stuck with continued rollbacks to civil rights laws & social policy, and with McCain/Palin, no matter how many rages he flies into and how many things she doesn’t know about foreign and domestic policy.

  3. Mr Love

    The X-Files had an episode which spoke of a “culture of lawlessness” among certain powerful elements. Or maybe this concept should come under a “culture of elitism” ? A culture full of arrogance, avarice, inhumanity, immorality, over indulgence. Finally, building on Joe’s comment, why doesn’t anyone seek a genetic explanation for this behavior ?

  4. Janet L. Yellen, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, told Congress in April:

    “There has been a tendency to conflate the current problems in the subprime market with CRA-motivated lending, or with lending to low-income families in general. I believe it is very important to make a distinction between the two. Most of the loans made by depository institutions examined under the CRA have not been higher-priced loans, and studies have shown that the CRA has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households. We should not view the current foreclosure trends as justification to abandon the goal of expanding access to credit among low-income households, since access to credit, and the subsequent ability to buy a home, remains one of the most important mechanisms we have to help low-income families build wealth over the long term.”

  5. Seattle in Texas

    “Ownership” of a home is nothing more than an illusion–especially for the low-income. I’m not even going to include the “poor” here because even they are denied such opportunities even by “Habitat for Humanity”. Low-income families are 1 paycheck away being homeless too often. Yeah, “credit” is the way to go! Keep them slaves and pay usually high interest rates to help somebody else get right and then if they have a hardship that is beyond their control (and even “low interest” is expensive for the low-income), they lose everything they have worked for, including their “home”, etc. And what about folks who pay off their homes but then cannot afford their property taxes later in life? Wow, they lose their home and what ever else.

    Fundamental structural changes need to be made if we are truly to make real differences for the low-income and poor in this society. A redistribution of wealth needs to be made, not allowing the low-income and poor to tap into credit so they can hopefully, and only if they are lucky throughout life, acquire a little bit of wealth (which will depreciate anyway if they cannot afford the upkeep…thus, actaully really acquire nothing while only serving to secure real wealth of those higher up than they with their hard worked earnings). Oh not to mention, let’s talk about predatory lending on top of it all. Yes, financing…finance a car, a home, your life. If you have problems? Well refinance!That is a total reflection of the entire mess this nation is in now (Only the low-income and even poor get punished when they get to the point they can’t pay though–maybe middle class). The fundamental morals and values of this nation need to change period.

    I come from a family where on one side, we were taught to never pay a penny of interest on anything (which is very difficult in a society such as this). If you don’t have the cash for it, you can’t afford it. To this part of the family, interest is inherently immoral. And there’s the giving principle, which I would say probably 95% of the folks in this society could not comprehend…that is, you never lend anything–ever. If somebody is in need, then if you have what it is they need and you can truly part with it and never ask for it back or expect anything in return, then you give. This gets much deeper and is not of this nation and is contrary to negative stereotypes that say otherwise about my group of origin here.

    People need to quit being pacified by materialism and consumerism, and obsessed with a very sickening type of arrogant type of individualism as far as I am concerned. The wealthy need to be held accountable for their screw ups and should be held criminally accountable for their actions, especially when it involves actions that were/are related to taking advantage of others who are less privileged, ignorant, and vulnerable, that result in serious harms and losses. And discussions on the low-income and poor only serve to shift the focus in the wrong direction with this issue–it needs to stay focused on those responsible for this mess.

    I was going to say something further on the white party, and I mean cocaine party, I mean the republican cocaine white party, but I will refrain with the exception that the symptoms they suffer and supposed solutions they pose seem eerily similar if not reflective of something like a collective snow addiction that has got way out of hand and even worse, they are all trying to fix it when they are freaking higher than kites–like beyond that point…like they are in a deep feigning realm and trying to force their screw ups and f**ked up reality upon the rest of society…which is scary…just a side thought….

    The war on drugs has been very successful *wink* *wink*

  6. Seattle in Texas

    And Mr Love–could you imagine what that would look like? A genetic explanation for whites creating such long historical, global, and contemporary crises–much irreversable…and they just don’t learn from their mistakes…they don’t know how to apologize, oh this list can go on. That’s an interesting idea…yet because I think people are the result of both nature and nurture and scholars and history itself has already shown the problems of seeking out “biological” explanations, I am against it. Though social explanations need to be explored as somehow white folks are invisible when it comes to crime and deviance and perhaps pathologies….. You might want to read the “Systemic Racism” to get some of your questions answered….

  7. Rush Limbaugh's large toe

    Joe, there is this concept. The power elite. Unfortunately, it’s the power elite that controls the mainstream media. You can bet that the organs that they own aren’t going to trash the hand that feeds them.

    Here’s my plan:

    1) establish a national bank that offers anybody a loan with a 3% interest rate. These loans can be used to a) pay off a higher interest private loan (whether it be a payday rape type loan or a sub prime rape type loan); and b) used to finance housing, cars, and small businesses. The max would be $250k.

    2) seize assets from the shareholders, the ceos and the corporate management from all of these banks that are going under and are looking for a bailout. After these assets are seized, then any additional funding that is required can come from the taxpayers.

    3) figure out an alternative to “free trade” ideology. It has failed miserably. You know that strange sucking sound that you have heard over the last 35 or so years? That money and capital from the lowest classes getting sucked to the upper classes and to our foreign trading partners.

    4) ban republicans. Seriously, in the last 8 years, who’s messed this country up worse: Al Qaeda or the GOP? The answer is pretty obvious. It’s time to place the GOP where it belongs: on the Axis of Evil list.

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