Random thought on the “grievance industry”

In addition to the vile “race hustler” epithet, conservatives have also termed those seeking to undo racial injustice as a “grievance industry.”

Can I ask something? What political interest group in America today isn’t a grievance industry? Everyone has grievances. The so-called “job creators” are allowed to lobby Washington and submit their grievances about what they see as burdensome federal regulations. Anti-abortion activists have a grievance against federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The NRA claims that gun manufacturers and owners have a grievance against legislation Congress attempts to pass in the wake of mass shootings. I could go on forever.

What should matter is whether or not the grievances in question are legitimate. Black people in America face numerous forms of institutional discrimination in employment and housing, a criminal justice system that routinely gives them draconian sentences for relatively minor crimes, rampant police brutality and constant cuts to funding for programs they happen to benefit from. I personally think such grievances are far more legitimate than those from upper-bracket income earners crying about their tax burden.

The term “grievance industry” is an obvious a dog whistle for “black people need to stop complaining so much and suck it up.” The fact is that everybody complains a lot about public and private policies that impact them. It’s simply another rhetorical tool the over-privileged members of the American right use to single out the struggle for racial equality and attack them based on aspects almost all political movements have in common.


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