Racial Issues Are Offensive, And We Need To Discuss Them.
Ever the font of interesting reading material, Scott Greenfield of Simple Justice has a new thought-provoking piece this morning called "Why You Can't Talk About Race (Or Anything Else)." I usually tend to agree with the Esteemed one's curmudgeonly views, and today is no different. This time, I think the man deserves a round of applause for confronting this issue with a brutal honesty most of us are afraid to admit. Go read the whole thing and come back here. Seriously, go. Then we can talk. I'm not going anywhere.
Back now? Good. I want to touch on a couple of points he makes in the post.
"First, let’s make something clear. No matter how wonderful you think you are when it comes to race, you’re racist. So am I. That’s because us white people live white lives, and it beats the hell out of living black lives. Don’t be ashamed of yourself for it. Black guys want to be able to go into a store without the house dick watching their every move too. They may be black, but they’re not stupid."
Oh man is he ever on point here. It took me a long time to come to grips with this issue, but the first time I stepped foot in an OP court and told a guy who had a decent chance at beating the show cause his baby mamma filed the reality hit me in the face like a brick. I told the client that if he wanted to agree to the violation and do time, that was what we'd do, but I thought he had a decent chance at beating the show cause. His response? "What's the point? I'm black. Nothing I say matters to a judge."
I won't have to ever have that in my life, and I am very cognizant of that. I have represented several black people with that same attitude in criminal and sessions court on various charges, and it's a prevalent attitude. I won't have to worry about walking down the street and getting tossed by a cop who needs to make a quota. I won't have to worry about being in a car with three other white guys and risk getting pulled over because I'm in a "crew cab." That's the crazy thing about racism, and I'm fully well aware that I have that benefit and minorities do not. That is a problem worth discussing.
"Second, the reason you’re so uncomfortable about it has nothing to do with blacks, or Hispanics, but with you. This is all about you, and your feelings, and your incipient guilt and desire to feel better about yourself. You’re not doing squat to help anyone else by being squeamish."
Boom. Again on the head with why so many white people are afraid to discuss the issue of race. We've had it nailed into our head all our lives that people who are racist are bad people, and that racism is bad, and that we should simply turn a blind eye to the problems that others are facing. You know who doesn't feel bad about race or racism? Actual hood wearing types and people who still think Hitler had the right idea on how to treat people who weren't white. So we duck the issue, we pretend it doesn't exist, and we keep ourselves happy with the notion of "the only race we have in America is the human race." And it's not doing us any good at all. Putting our feelings before the issue isn't going to let us actually have a real, honest discussion about race--and yet we continue to whinge and moan.
"In a real discussion, there will be offense. Offense will be given. Offense will be taken. That’s how real discussion happens. And if that can’t happen, then there can be no real discussion of racism. Or any other “ism.”
Absolutely. And I got offended many times until I had the ability to wrap my head around the notion of systemic racism in America. It's not an easy talk to have. I didn't want to believe in any respect that this aspect of life was real in our modern society--and yet it is. It's going to be an offensive discussion, because racism and racial issues are offensive to people with a heart. The fact that you want to whine about how you feel uncomfortable talking through the issue isn't going to do a thing to make the problems end, or help those who want to have the frank discussion we need.
Stop putting your feelings before the facts. Talk. Get ready to be offended and to offend others. Let others know they are human and worthy of your respect by giving them the same. That's how we have that adult discussion we need to make positive progress.