Does Anyone Really Want to have a National Conversation on Race?

The Henry Louis Gates controversy has rekindled the idea of having a national conversation on race. What does this mean? Will policy makers come together and say racism is wrong? We already know that. Will they say racial profiling is bad? We already know that. Will they say not all policemen are bad? Well we know that too. So what would they discuss and what could they possibly accomplish? Last week I did a number of posts on the Gates situation and one of the readers sent me a comment. This is an excerpt from that comment. “Lately, this blog has become heavily focused on the negative: racism and Dr. Gates, Republicans and racism, racism in the media, racism and children, and general racism. I just can’t take it anymore, and I’m black. Racism exists and racism is bad…I get it. Yet somehow trying to keep my job and basically survive is taking precedence over racism woes these days.” So again I ask is America ready for this conversation or is this a conversation that most do not want to have?

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  • Jason  On July 27, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I have HQ audio of the 911 call, Moderator, If you are interested

  • nubispertusus  On July 28, 2009 at 12:59 am

    You asked an either-or question and you provided only two possible answers. There is another possible answer, which is that maybe some things are going right on the racial divide. Some folks may want to talk about that and others may be too busy paying the mortgage. SO I’d like to share this:

    I certainly agree that more hype was heaped on the fact of Obama’s election than the event merited. That said, c’mon….. we have a long weary road ahead. But for crying out loud, look how far we’ve come! The slave fortresses are closed, at least those that sent Africans to the USA. It’s been a long long time since the KKK strung someone up in Ol’ Mississippi. I wonder how many public transit commuters had civil conversations across racial lines this week? Not a very headline-grabbing story, I will admit. But it’s beautiful anyway. With those thoughts in mind, I’d like to share this:

    One of the many lessons to have come from this debacle
    Is that blacks have work ahead – work that they must tackle.

    Someday, to achieve equality we must see that it’s arrived,
    But it won’t happen all at once, it’s not so cut-and-dried.

    It’s not just whites that oppress blacks, that is a crude delusion
    Because on his porch in the first moment Gates leapt to a conclusion.

    I suppose it was inevitable since he dwells upon what is WRONG.
    Yet this is only half the truth which sadly will prolong

    The injustice and the hate and the fear that he despises.
    By researching what is going RIGHT he may be in for some surprises.

    Many whites work long and hard to see folks as human beings.
    Despite social conditioning many whites have been freeing

    Their minds and hearts to see all folks as folks, just as they were born.
    Blacks should pause to think of this before they stomp and storm.

    Give the white folks a chance, that’s all that I am saying
    Before you hoot and holler and commence to braying.

    I’d love to see the doctor do a show on PBS
    That probes these issues and the work ahead, and yet

    The glass really is half full, many things are going RIGHT.
    It’s just not as good a story as an ugly fight.

    Hopefully the doctor can find a way to also tell
    At least some stories of success, overcoming racial hell.

    Newbis Pertusus (Piercing the Clouds), Pennsylvania

  • Mr. Roach  On July 28, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Most liberals and blacks want a national monologue on race, complete with cue cards for whites to say things like (a) I had no idea or (b) wow, I didn’t realize I was subconciously racist or (c) you had it so much worse, here’s a check. Whites can’t say things like (a) why are black people so loud (b) why do blacks commit 10X more violent crime or (c) why are you people so alienated and angry, after whites have bent over backwards to atone for their past sins.

  • musesofamom  On July 28, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I do not fall into the narrow scope you outlined. We as a nation have a history of reacting to specific situations, but reaction does not lead to long-term change. I have no interest in trying to dictate a cue sheet for white response, nor to I feel the need to ask whites to atone for past transgressions. To say whites have bent over backward can only be described as an overstatement.

  • YANi  On July 29, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I believe that EVERYONE, has a bit of racism in them.It is the way that the world has been conditioned.I was going to write an article about “Closet Racism”, because I think a lot of people; black, white, hispanic, asian, etc, truly believe that their are NOT* living with racists views. How can a world that includes a question that asks what race, or ethnic background it’s applicant identifies with, not be a racist one. It is among us, but it is not us. We do not have to hate, persecute, batter, or abuse others because their race differs from ours. There is also “inter-race racism”, lighter skin blacks and darker skin blacks continue to compete against each other long after slavery has ended. Why is that you ask? Everything stems back to the days of slavery, to where the lighter skin slaves where closer to the whites; in complexion, grade of hair, maybe even eye color, and just closer to the “Massa” in general. They were allowed to work in the house; watching the “Massa’s” children, cooking, cleaning, helping his wife with picking out clothes, jewelry, shoes, ahelping her with her hair and makeup. They were “respected” a little more than the “darkies”. So now here we have it, blacks just cannot let go of some of those memories, which are not even memories that MOST blacks have witnessesed. These are the stories that have been passed on from generation to generation. I am a multiracial woman, who grew up in a home where race was not any issue because I had many different races and ethnicities streaming throughout; however, skin color, grade of hair, eye color, and language or dialect were very important. Let’s accept the fact that many blacks are not over “slave days”, and until we completely forgive the ancestors of our white counterparts we will never be. Yes, I believe that racism does still exist, but among more than just whites, and blacks are not the only ones targeted. How many Asian (which includes those from India) actors/actresses won a an Oscar this year or any year for that matter…How many actually have lead roles in movies..that do not solely display them for their race…How many hispanics are in managerial roles in the jobs in which they slave..How many middle eastern ethnic men are serving in any of the military branches..Why does this world focus so much on white and black…when there is also GRAY!

  • Mr. Roach  On July 29, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Yani, racism is usually defined as irrational animosity towards another race. It’s also defined today as one of the great evils in the world, a cause for losing one’s job, but at the same time it’s also ubiquitous. These different views contradict one another and cannot persist. Racism can’t be everywhere and also the greatest evil, unless you’re willing to say that great evil is afoot everywhere and most everyone you know (who is white at least) is greatly evil. Some people think this way, but this way of thinking will not work to continue guilt-tripping whites who are in fact not mostly racist, thinking of themselves as greatly evil or evil under any normal definition of that term.

    Recognizing race differences, preferring one’s own race in personal associations, etc. is not racism. Differences in outcome based on race or the impact of our historical mostly white population on movies and leadership in various areas is not racist.

    I doubt you’d like to be called racist, and you’d be offended if you were. But you have just called 99% of your society racist and eventually people will say, “Yeah, I’m racist, whatever.”

    Anti-racists are the boy the cried wolf these days.

  • YANi  On July 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I copied this definition straight from Webster’s Online
    Main Entry: rac·ism
    Pronunciation: \ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm also -ˌshi-\
    Function: noun
    Date: 1933
    1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
    2 : racial prejudice or discrimination
    — rac·ist \-sist also -shist\ noun or adjective

    Please read the 1st definition of Racism….A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits…This statement does not suggest that anyone has an irrational animosity towards another race, but that they will and do attribute certain human behavior and traits to the RACE of a person. The 2nd verse is also true about many people, discrimination or prejudging a person before actually knowing them because of what is known about a general population of that people; whether the judgment be positive or negative, ie; all hispanics speak spanish, all blacks eat soul food, all whites are RACIST (because of what we’ve learned about from the days of slavery). Those are generalizations made about people of a certain race based upon what is ubiqitously known. I said that everyone has a BIT of racism in them, because many are guilty of things thinking in the manner in which I have explained. Not all who think this way act irate towards other races. People shouldn’t have a problem admitting their flaws; as they have no problem boasting about their achievements or positives. I admit that I sometimes have racists views about my own race and others, but I do not have animosity towards anyone because of their race, skin color, gender, etc. I decide if I like a person based on their character and their behavior.

  • Mr. Roach  On July 30, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Recognizing patterns and making useful generalizations does not make you a racist. You are not racist if you notice, for instance, black people are generally darker skinned than whites. That said, some whites are darker than some African-American people.

    Most of the important and useful information in life is probabalistic in nature. The “all whites” or “all blacks” stuff is pretty much ignorant. But we can make judgments about groups as groups based on facts, even while recognizing that it would be unfair to hold those against individuals, particularly when we know or have an opportunity to know whether those generalizations apply in a particular case.

  • YANi  On July 31, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I agree with you on your views about useful generalizations and recognizing patterns, seeing as how I never said that those things made anyone a racist. However; making statements that automatically connect people of the same race is a form of racism. Using someone’s race to determine what their behavior will be is racism; it is stated in the dictionary. The “all black people”, “all white people” generalizations are very ignorant, I agree with you on that as well, but the reality is that many people can be ignorant. Ignorance is the lack of knowledge or awareness. Many people are not aware that when they make such generalizations towards race that it is being racist, and not just making a useful generalization. Many people think of racism as negative, irrational, and harsh; they always give it a negative connotation. So we are not aware that even though we are not spewing hatred toward a person, burning down their churches, or denying them a job because of their race, that we are still projecting racism or racist views when we use their race to determine or assume their behavior. I enjoyed this discussion, it has been very enlightening. Thank you for sharing your views with me, and allowing me to do the same.

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