The fact that I find it enormously disappointing and saddening to be so is perhaps ameliorative but does not excuse.
The original premise of the Civil Rights movement, and the underlying philosophy behind the creation of current civil rights law, is that if blacks were freed of invidious discrimination they would succeed to the same degree that whites do. This has not occurred, and that is the source of most of the more-severe dislocations and contradictions revolving around racial issues in modern American society.
There are of course many blacks who do succeed, which is sufficient to conclusively disprove the simplistic assumptions I and my fellows held as Holy Writ during my childhood and adolescence; it further demonstrates the validity of the charges made by Martin Luther King and others, that the laws and social structures we set up based on those assumptions were at minimum invidious, and more generally demonstrations that our prating about “liberty” and “opportunity” was hypocrisy leading to cruelty. Nevertheless, if you examine any society on the planet that contains both blacks and other races you will find blacks on the bottom of the social order, unless that ordering is upset by main force (as in Zimbabwe, South Africa, &c.) in which case the society as a whole drops to lower levels of achievement.
There are many and various explanations for this, mostly revolving around assumptions regarding lingering effects of past discrimination and/or deliberate and intentional conspiracy. The latter is simply fatuous. “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead”; the notion of a “conspiracy” involving a billion-plus people is untenable upon its face. The experience of Orientals is at least indicative that assuming “lingering effects” does not explain the situation. I own several “boys’ books” written at the turn of the last century, as depictions and/or exhortations of socially-conforming “good” behavior for young adults; in them, “the Chinese” are depicted as not merely inferior but as actively evil, and that attitude persisted, especially among my elders, right up to the mid-Twentieth Century. None of us today (including me) would find anything whatever odd about a person of oriental ancestry succeeding in any given field.
There is a simpler hypothesis that is sufficient to explain the entire pattern: that, statistically, the median black is somewhat less capable than the median for those of other ancestries. Statistics say nothing about individuals. The individuals forming any population occur in a statistical distribution; it follows that some black people have the capability to succeed, but that the “average” or median black person is less capable than the average for the rest of society, and therefore black people will be disproportionately found in societal roles requiring less ability. It is a perfectly normal, and in fact necessary, process for human beings to categorize based on gross characteristics when we have little or no direct experience, and those categorizations tend strongly to revolve around the median of the population being so categorized. We thus arrive at the stereotype “blacks are inferior” by a perfectly valid process that cannot be avoided.
It is ironic that this assumption, although never stated, lies behind “affirmative action”. The general population will inevitably conclude that “blacks are inferior” because it is true of the median black vis-a-vis the median of other groups. They will therefore tend to exclude black candidates for positions requiring ability, and this is both invidious discrimination, cruel to black people who can succeed in those positions, and a societal waste — we live in a complex and difficult society, and need every hand to the wheel. A process requiring the consideration of candidates who would otherwise be summarily dismissed because of unthinking stereotyping is thus of benefit to all concerned.
Unfortunately, affirmative action redounds to the benefit of society only if all candidates are held to the same standard. The actual implementation of the philosophy has been governed by egalitarians whose assumption is equal capability; it follows that statistically unequal representation of blacks vs. other groups can only be the result of some invidious process, which must be counteracted by forcing those making choices to accept blacks in proportion to their numbers regardless of actual ability. Since there are many such cases, this results in a statistical universe in which the median black is inferior to the median of other groups — which reinforces the stereotype of black inferiority, and creates additional resentment that ought to be targeted on the people enforcing the invalid assumption but actually falls on the individuals thus forcibly inserted into positions their ability cannot support, because they’re closest by.
That is the sum and substance of my racism. Make of it what you will.