In my first blog post, I spoke about the importance of dialogue and a non-judgemental stance in order to overcome issues of race. I personally have seen improvements, large and small, made when individuals or groups are willing to come together and perhaps step into a zone of discomfort. This is why I continue to hope that in spite of steps backward, we will also take steps forward in healing our divide.
Walls to the Left and Right
Yet there remain walls casting shadows over my hope that seem insurmountable. One wall is the old impenetrable avowed white racist. But that has stood for a long time, and we made progress in spite of it. But I am now more aware of an impediment on the left that might be just as immovable when it comes to closing the gap in race relations.
Although shielding myself behind prominent black conservatives such as Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Walter E. Williams, and Glen Loury, will not save me from accusations of racism – just as it does not protect them from cries of “traitor” from other blacks – I do agree with them. Thinking of oneself as a helpless victim of past, present, and even future omnipresent systemic and individual acts of racism is self-defeating. It’s the recipe for failure. When some on the left, both black and white, insist that we will never be able to dismantle systemic racism; that if we don’t always recognize racism (by whose definition?) when we see it, then we are racist; that if we admit we are racist, not only are we racist, but there is no hope for us; and finally, that the damage done by slavery and past racism is irreparable, although white America should pay reparations.
Blame and Despair
How does one come to the table to face that? And if one sees a glimmer of hope that we can come together regardless of the hopelessness laid out in the thinking of Ta Nehisi Coates, Chauncy DeVega, and going back to Malcom X, Ralph Ellison, and others, what can one hope to accomplish when there isn’t even a crack for a single ray of light to slip through?
Here is Mr. DeVega in Salon. Can light penetrate? Feel free to show me where I’ve missed it.
I found the following article indicative of how tangled up some minds are in finding racism everywhere, looking to stress our divisions rather than commonalities. The thinking of Stephanie Wang in The Washington Free Beacon will keep many others from coming together around a table. Because she looks Asian, someone asked her if she speaks Chinese. Per the penultimate line of the article she has been permanently traumatized, and she doesn’t know if she will ever get over this and other microagressions. Care to scale that wall?