I have a Google Alert set up on my email to send me notices of internet entries on “racism”. There are no shortages of material. Each day I receive a list of about six entries. I can’t imagine how many are left off the list. Judging by the variety of sources – some are familiar news sources and blogs, others are obscure high school or college journals – we are a nation consumed with the subject.
Left leaning media – particularly media directed to a black audience, blogs, and college newspapers tend to emphasize the ubiquitousness of racism, the idea that it is endemic to American life, and that any resolution lies in the hands of the white populous. Media with a conservative reputation, are at times defensive, and approach racism as less of a blame game, and more of a joint problem that requires action from all sides.
Here is a small sampling of just a few days of Google Alerts:
King: White people throwing parties mocking black culture proves American racism is alive and well
New York Daily News
Sandra Bullock: My son ‘absolutely’ aware of racism
Obama Greets Muslim Boy Who Declares Americans Are Anti-Muslim ‘Racists’
Professors cancel classes for daylong, campuswide teach-in on racism, climate change
The College Fix
Racism still alive in political arena
Malcolm X letter: Islam helps stop racism
One Woman’s Battle to Change the Rhetoric Surrounding Race
There’s Nothing Special About Racism
‘Grant Park:’ the long hard road of American race relations
The Seattle Times
Racism at Crosswalks? Study Finds Drivers Less Likely to Stop for Black People at Crosswalks
Atlanta Black Star
We Must Break the Cycle of Disunity and Defend the Black Community – Part 1
Milwaukee Courier Weekly Newspaper
Saturday Night Live Mainstreams Racism With T
Black Star News
How do you remedy a situation with such a wide bandwidth, or even find an effective corner from which to start nibbling?
I found one recent article that got me excited, because from the headline and the first sentences, I had to make sure it wasn’t something I had already written. I was completely atuned to what the author was saying – until I wasn’t. It’s not that I disagree with much of what she says, but rather I am disappointed in what she omits.
The author opens with the power of partnership. Yes! We have the power to resolve our problems with conversations, policies and practices. Yes, again – especially the part about conversations. I’ll skip over her first point, where she states that the only key to unlocking the solution to the problem of racism is to acknowledge and dismantle white privilege. I’ll skip it because I feel it is only one piece of a complex set of circumstances.
The second point resonated with me, and repeated what I have been saying: LISTEN to the other party. When I suggest this, I always include that it is no help if one party does all the shouting, accusing, talking, finger-pointing, or however they wish to communicate, while the other party is supposed to sit docilely, take it in, and then act. In any conflict resolution, both sides need to listen, and acknowledge the other’s thoughts, feelings, positions, etc. And yet, with one small exception about listening to whites, rather than getting defensive when they say “all lives matter,” it becomes clear that the author really feels that the solution is not in partnership and working together, but really, that whites need to listen to minorities, and then get their act together. This approach will repel the very people we need to be part of the conversation.
The third point cannot be argued with, and that is, if we recognize the divinity in every other being, we would recognize that all lives matter. Perhaps this is only my interpretation, but again I feel the author’s point is that this is a lesson only for whites, as if minorities already believe in and live by these words. Is not the black who holds up another person – white or black – and then kills him or her for no reason (a common occurance in my hometown) also in need of learning this lesson? If you want partners, then everyone needs to be held to the same standard.
The author is off to a good start, but I’d be more likely to agree if she had tough love for everyone, and not just white Americans.
Read the article here and decide for yourself.