One of the most popular themes among fear-mongering ideologues is “racism.” I put quotation marks around the term, because the “racist” episodes breathlessly hyped by activists are rarely evidence of authentic racism.

In fact, genuine racial discrimination is far too rare to sustain the racism-is-pervasive narrative. In order to perpetuate the myth, progressives have to fabricate shocking incidents, Jussie Smollett-style.

In late-September, we learned about an alleged assault on a black girl who is a sixth-grader in Virginia. She claimed that “three white boy students held her down in a school playground … during recess, covered her mouth, called her insulting names and used scissors to cut her hair.”

But then, a week later, we learned that the story was complete fiction.

Two weeks ago, our friends in Winston-Salem were plunged into pearl-clutching panic mode by a child’s toy in a police officer’s patrol car. The stuffed monkey at issue is one of several stuffed animals utilized by cops to calm down traumatized children. But the insensitive, culture-appropriating chimpanzee in the patrol car sported “a hat and dreadlocks associated with Rastafarian culture.”

A Facebook user who calls herself Divine Deva posted a video of the offending chimp, which she called “the most racist thing I’ve ever seen.” If that’s the most extreme “racism” Miss Deva has ever encountered, we must be doing pretty well on the race-relations front.

But the absurdity had just begun.

Officials in Winston-Salem considered “monkey-gate” a serious matter, and rushed to the microphones to issue solemn pronouncements — about a stuffed chimp designed to comfort children.

City Councilwoman Vivian Burke sternly reminded the police that they must be “aware of the feelings of the citizens of the community. I would hope,” she declared, “that would be one of their number one duties, to make sure their cars would not be carrying anything to offend anyone.”

If Burke has her way, the WSPD will have little time for traffic control or crime prevention. Police officers will be “woke” — busy tiptoeing around the feelings of hypersensitive racial agitators.

From the absurdities of a playground farce and “monkey-gate,” we turn to a much more serious development: an accusation of rampant, deliberate racial oppression leveled at the city of High Point by local writer and historian Glenn Chavis (“What’s in a ZIP code? For 27260, it is poverty, fueled by racism,” Oct. 22).

According to Chavis, “From the day it was incorporated, High Point has practiced systemic/institutional racism.” The city’s banks, grocery stores, utilities, and other institutions, he claims, “are only interested in making sure they keep black folk poverty-stricken and dependent upon a racist system.”

Problems in High Point’s high-poverty areas — ZIP code 27260, in particular — will not be solved, Chavis opines, “until those in control stand up and admit institutional/systemic racism is responsible.”

Chavis might be in for a long wait, because institutional racism has nothing to do with poverty in High Point. In fact, a more accurate title for his article would have been “Poverty, fueled by illegitimacy.” Elected officials in High Point are well aware of the link between illegitimacy and poverty, although they avoid saying so in public.

But economist and author Walter Williams, who is black, has said it publicly and repeatedly. He reminds us that, in 1960, 22% of black children were raised in single-parent families; by 2010, the figure was 70%. Williams writes, “Was the increase in single-parent black families after 1960 a legacy of slavery, or might it be a legacy of the welfare state?”

Many among us have a vested interest in the illusion of widespread “racism” and its helpless victims. Don’t believe the hype.

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Charles Davenport Jr. (cdavenportjr@hotmail.com) is a News & Record columnist. His column runs the first and third Sundays of the month.

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