If you’ve read my novel or my blogs, you know I am a white guy trying to address the frustrations on all sides surrounding racism in America. I’ve stated that blacks, whites, and all other Americans have work to do. Although that seems obvious, there are some who think that all the responsibility rests entirely on the shoulders of one side or the other. I disagree. People who look only to others to blame are of no help, because they either do nothing at all or they make the situation worse.
The difficulty for me, and I suspect many of us of both races, is what exactly can we do to break down racism, particularly when addressing what so many are convinced is the huge wall of the now overworked term of institutional racism? Other terms being tossed about that are hard to find solutions for are “the legacy of slavery” and “the inequalities written into our founding documents.” That’s a lot to address for one person with his or her own struggles just getting through the day. Yet there are many of us who want to improve the world, and we have at least a half dozen other world-size problems we want to address.
Where does one start? If there is an issue that I can help by volunteering my time to a group that has found a way to make a positive difference, I try to do it. But time is a limited resource. Right now I volunteer at an organization that works to ameliorate a particular social problem, but it isn’t racism, and I’m out of extra time.
For those who have extra funds, but not the time, there are a number of worthwhile organizations that labor to reduce inequalities by assisting the black community in terms of housing, education, and employment, or that focus on improving communication between the races. They can use the money.
There are things we can do in our daily interactions with people of a different race: make them as positive as possible. If you don’t have interactions with people of a different race, ask yourself “why?” and see if you can overcome a barrier to breaking down that wall of institutional racism.
The few suggestions I’ve made are from the perspective of the aforementioned white guy, yet they are available to all races, and I humbly submit that they are effective. Anyone who participates will be part of the solution to reduce racial inequalities.
There are some things that white guys like me cannot do. They are positive steps that can only be taken by the black community. For me to spell them out would stike many as judgemental, insensitive, bigoted, presumptuous, blind to reality, and any number of pejoratives. Even a black person runs the same risks of being at the receiving end of insults if he or she suggests that part of the solution to inequality is in the hands of the black community. Groups such as Black Lives Matter, and the most liberal whites will criticize such a person as a traitor to his or her race, an Uncle Tom, an Oreo, etc. From my perspective a member of the black community who isn’t afraid to start looking for a solution from within is brave, smart, and realistic.
I hope it isn’t presumptuous of me to give you a link to a black woman who confronts those in her community who are the first and loudest at placing the blame for racial inequality elsewhere. I think everyone should listen to Peggy Hubbard as she speaks from her heart and her head. Watch here. It doesn’t mean that we can’t all do something, such as the suggestions I’ve made, to lessen inequalities; it’s just that only the black community can heed Peggy Hubbard.