All About Race
Helpful resources, life hacks and smile-worthy content typically fill our weekly round ups. And while we have more of where that comes from, we’d simply seem out of touch if we didn’t mention the race conversations that have recently happened in America. While discussing (or avoiding) the perils of race and racism aren’t a new exercise in this country, the past four weeks have proven how far off the mark we truly are. From Rachel Dolezal feigning strong Black woman to the Charleston 9 to the issue of the Confederate flag, race surrounds us and we have to talk about it. So this week, with the help of a few unrelenting writers, we’re opening a dialogue about race — in truth and from the beginning.
As expected, President Obama’s recent interview with Marc Maron went viral. Not because he’s the POTUS, but because he’s America’s first Black POTUS who used the N-word in an interview. Outraged, critics reacted more strongly to his use of the word (which was used in proper context) as opposed to his strong message about America’s unwavering view on race. Despite finger waggers, President Obama is glad he said what he said and hopes that now the real work surrounding the removal of racism will begin.
“Racism: We’re not cured of it,” Obama told Maron. “It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public, that’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t overnight erase everything that happened two to 300 years earlier.” Read more here.
In his piece Our Heritage is Hate (Racism is a White Problem), David R. Henson makes it plain about how we can truthfully begin the conversation of race in our beloved country. In 14 simple lines, he sums up for white people the importance of admitting the privileges of systemic racism, how it impacts individuals of color and how to effectively address race conversations on a personal level.
As white people, we are to blame and we are the beneficiaries of what’s happening to black people in this country.
Don’t talk about racial reconciliation.
Talk about racial justice.
Don’t talk about forgiveness.
Talk about reparations.
Don’t talk about your black friends and how you are colorblind.
Talk about the racist system that brutalizes black people and privileges white people.
Talk about this problem in America.
This white problem.
That’s been going on for 400 years.
That’s killed millions of black people.
Let’s talk about our white heritage.
Our heritage of hate.
Kiese Laymon takes us on an emotional ride in Black Churches Taught Us to Forgive White People as he delves into what it means to be a fat Black southern church boy raised by women, including his grandmother, who colorfully evoked her disgust of the Charleston shooting. Laymon commits that the “pass” often given in the event of supremacy and privilege is based on teachings of morality and love in the Black church. While in the midst of recovering from the Charleston shooting, Laymon proposes that in the process “we learned to shame ourselves” and that instead, “we should have chosen ourselves.”
What I do know is that love reckons with the past and evil reminds us to look to the future. Evil loves tomorrow because peddling in possibility is what abusers do. At my worst, I know that I’ve wanted the people that I’ve hurt to look forward, imagining all that I can be and forgetting the contours of who I have been to them.
Like good Americans, I told Grandma, we will remember to drink ourselves drunk on the antiquated poison of progress. We will long for “shall’s” and “will be’s” and “hopes” for tomorrow. We will heavy-handedly help in our own deception and moral obliteration. We will forget how much easier it is to talk about gun control, mental illness and riots than it is to talk about the moral and material consequences of manufactured white American innocence.
The truth is that we’re all uncomfortable discussing race in 2015. However, more than enough has transpired recently that it almost forces every kind of group — conservative and liberal — to pinpoint their true feelings on freedom, rights and people of color in America. Here’s a well-written beginner’s guide to becoming an ally in the Black community by Roo Ciambriello. A few of our favorites are #4: We can diversify our media, #5: We can teach our children about race and #8: We can start dialogue.
If race relations are important to you, how will you incorporate it into your conversations?