The problem with race in American is that it is not discussed enough. No, I don’t mean a slave movie here, a cop killing there. I’m talking about real race relations. People are afraid to talk about race because the usual conversation is around the discussion of white/Black hate. It’s discussed under the guise of poor being synonymous with Black and Africans in America doing well “in spite of”. By avoiding racial discussions, we are adding to our biases and stereotypes. We are adding fuel to the same fire that we ignorantly believe that we are extinguishing.
Racism is such a huge issue because on a national scale it hasn’t been discussed properly. When a racial topic comes up in a room full of different cultures, everyone begins to squirm. People instantly feel uncomfortable because their first thoughts lead to stereotypes. It’s hard to get through a conversation regarding slavery without hearing the undertones of “that was so long ago” (which it wasn’t by the way).
So, how should we talk about race?
Let’s go ahead and use those current events we mentioned earlier (because they seem so frequent). The police killings are always a hot topic in America, but instead of the discussion being around the victim’s character, how about discussing the issue seriously from a historical, psychological and cultural perspective. Instead of character questions, the questions that should be asked should be along the following lines:
- Do African Americans have a distrust of police and law enforcing agencies? Why or why do they not have these feelings?
- Are law enforcement agencies overly represented in African American neighborhoods?
- Do the law enforcement agencies have any type of bias regarding the neighborhoods or their inhabitants? Why or why not?
- How are law enforcement officers trained to deal with the inhabitants in these neighborhoods differently? Why or why not?
- Historically how have laws affected African Americans?
- Could these laws have any correlation to the percentage of African Americans in the penal system?
- Historically how does the justice system fair with African Americans.
By discussing these issues objectively as oppose to subjectively, we can determine the root of these issues instead of the symptoms. We can began to understand the situations as oppose to simply applying emotions to them. It’s like a verbal research project or maybe a curiosity cleansing.
It’s not only important that we talk about race amongst adults, but the children need to have these conversations as well. If they grow with the idea of race being too sensitive a topic, or if someone mentions race that they are being racist (I’ve heard kids say this), they will grow with internal biases and stereotypes surrounding race. Do you remember the story of Romeo and Juliet? The two families of these young people were grown to hate each other for a reason that escaped itself during the times of the children. Although they might not have know why, they had and underlining of hate towards the opposite family. This is how we are raising our children if we avoid the TRUE cause of the racial issues. Not discussing character which could change with the wind, but discussing the result of systematic oppression and how it still affects the world today.
Once we get past the media controlled biases surrounding race, we can have productive conversations. Once we feel comfortable talking about race, we can get through race relations. Are you willing to get through the racial stereotypes or are you married to your prejudice? Is your prejudice the vice that you hold on to that helps you seemingly dismiss a true conversation laced with racial biases? Do you really discuss these issues, use your vice to hide that they are real, or avoid them all together? Tell us about it in the comments below.