I’ve spent these last few weeks trying to understand the cries of the black community in the United States. Now to say there is only one opinion that represents this entire population would be taking a generalization way too far. However by listening to movements like Black Lives Matter there is a theme to the arguments that cannot be ignored. What exactly in 2016 does our country need to overcome as it pertains to racial inequality? I’ve been blessed to have numerous conversations with people weighing in on these news stories and within this I’ve noticed some other themes.
I think the great confusion towards racial division in or country right now is that most white people do not believe they are showing or treating black people with the racism that they grew up with prior to the 70’s. “I don’thate black people”. Therefore I am not racist. My father and I were talking this morning and he shared that my generation just doesn’t understand how far we have come. He spoke “I remember what it was like for a black man to have to use a different door. I remember people being beaten up just for the color of their skin. These situations aren’t the plague of our modern society.”
Before getting too carried away with bringing up some examples, I want to say that I think this actually is a fair argument. Most white people that I have known and grown up with do not willingly set out to treat any race different by word or care. Now I’m white and this may posture me to not pick up on things that may otherwise be seen as racist however I haven’t encountered much racism in my life. There are spurts of people speaking out of ignorance. And there are glimmers of the old that can often creep out in some of the adults I know born in the fifties, but even this is not rooted in an ill-willed hatred of the other race.
But this division at its core is less about willful racism and instead about inherent and systemic racism. Things about society that have plateaued rather than continue to grow and prosper. How we still live in segregated communities. How predominately white “A” schools receive more funding and blessings than predominately black D and F schools. Or that Oscar worthy movie rolls are written and offered to predominantly white actors. We think worse of those who use “drugs in the hood” then we do in the average college bathroom or frat house.
Many of our communities, law enforcements, churches, schools, began segregated. As “us and them” communities where the white community naturally had more opportunities than black communities. We dealt and have made tremendous strides socially. This is what most people rightfully acknowledge when voicing their criticism of new groups spotlighting racism. But the fallout of original systems that put these communities into place still has a dark presence on our nation.
Most of the early segregated communities are still communities of poverty and with that- while “equal opportunity” may seem available to all, reaching these opportunities is not of an equal task. These are some of the things that people mean by using the term “white privilege.” That foundational things about our nation still have a long ways to go.
Think of it like our current election. We have a Republican candidate and a Democratic candidate and several third party candidates. Now is it not true that each of these candidates have an equal opportunity to be the President? And yet we lean towards the two party system that has been in place and say things like “yeah but a third party candidate will never win.” That’s an example of a system that gives people an edge no matter how qualified they are. It’s systemic. Although each candidate could technically become our President, third party candidates have a higher hill to climb because of our two party history. We could call that a “two party privilege.” No living candidate created this privilege, and yet they benefit from it all the same.
We felt like we met the margin of overcoming racism because we no longer treat people of color like they used to be treated. However we have not done the appropriate healing and restorative work of these foundational segregations. (We have done much.) The fallout is still present. And systemically certain presumptions and postures are placed on entire communities. It’s not that we haven’t overcome slavery. It’s that we still have not equalized how deeply slavery developed this country. These are many of the things being protested now. And whether or not you agree, It’s important to listen.
For the sake of the argument, it doesn’t matter whether or not I hate a person of color, I benefit from a society that did. This doesn’t deny the great strides that we have witnessed over the last fifty years, but it also doesn’t mean the work is done.
We need to listen beyond questions being answered to help you form an opinion about the whole thing. Rather try to understand this. What kind of restoration can you find in it?
You can be excited that after many attempts and learning different ways, that you’ve finally beaten level three while still understanding you haven’t beaten the game. It’s not denying the progress you have made to know there’s a few more levels you need to figure out.
Is it division to stand up for your race? Is it division to expose that other groups live under greater blessings? If a community notices injustice should we listen to them or silence them?
Can we take ownership of things that we had nothing to do with but that we have benefited from? Are we willing to listen and bring light to the benefits we don’t even realize we have over others? Can we lower ourselves to bring light to those we have kept low?
Race remains the most volatile flash point in any accounting of police shootings. Although black men make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police this year, The Post’s database shows. In the majority of cases in which police shot and killed a person who had attacked someone with a weapon or brandished a gun, the person who was shot was white. But a hugely disproportionate number — 3 in 5 — of those killed after exhibiting less threatening behavior were black or Hispanic.