Tackling Race As An Issue The Average Person Way
There are more than whites and blacks in America, there are also Latinos, there are Asians. But race seems to tango primarily between blacks and whites. I believe race has to be tackled as an issue at the level of the average person, one conversation at a time.
It can start as an in-group thing where blacks are primarily talking among blacks, and whites are primarily talking among whites. It's okay to start that way if only because that is what the living arrangements are for the most part. Blacks live with other blacks. Whites live with other whites.
You bring forth simple questions and you go around and have people answer them. Among a black group, I would pose these questions.
What does race mean to you? How big an impact do you feel race has had in your life? Slavery happened. How do you feel about that? Segregation happened. How do you feel about that? What have been your personal experiences in racism, if any? In what forms does racism exist today? Do you think those can be tackled? How? What constitutes the black identity? How do you fight internalized racism among blacks? How do you take pride in your black identity? Black identity can not be to do with slavery and segregation. Those were aspects of race relations that did not quite work out. Black identity has to be to with music, and culture, and history, and religion, and art, and black heroes and role models, it has to be positive, and it has to be independent of anything to do with white misbehavior in the past or present. So what is that black identity? Tell me.
Don't get me wrong, I am mad as hell at racism, and I have experienced it myself, but it really bothers me to realize so much of the black identity revolves around slavery and segregation. I am not saying don't talk about it, quite the reverse. But I am saying slavery and segregation are not identity. They were diseases. They can't be identity.
So what is that positive black identity? What is it made up of? Swahili? African art and artifacts? I think for a big part Africa is the answer. Blacks in America would do well to learn some Swahili for pride purposes. Not necessarily fluent Swahili, broken Swahili would be just fine. There was Swahili before there was slavery and segregation. Swahili can be identity, slavery and segregation are not identity.
Mind you, I am not saying don't talk about slavery and segregation. Talk to your heart's fill. Talk as much as you want. Just don't talk like they are your identity. Disease can not be identity.
Some people say blacks should adopt Islam. What I say is those blacks who want to convert to Islam should happily do so. If you feel like adopting a religion that is different from that of most white folks will make you feel more whole as a person, heck, it is called religious freedom. It is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. By all means do so. Any religion is fine. If you were to ask for my recommendation, I would say Buddhism. Wink, wink.
Racism hits the family structure hard. There has to be enough grassroots organizing at the community and church levels among blacks that people raise their political consciousness level to say the external reality of racism can not be allowed to affect the internal reality of one's self or the semi-internal reality of one's family.
Racism is still wrong, and it is hurting enough, but you can make it not seep into the walls of your home where no white people are around, it is just you and your family. And that requires conversation, that requires political education.
We don't live in a time when racism is the law. We do live in a time when there is much social segregation. You could say the institutions of power are infected, some more so than others.
But those black people who might ask that the whites cleanse their hearts of racism must exhibit the guts to also cleanse their hearts of internalized racism. And if they can't cleanse their hearts of internalized racism, they must acknowledge it is hard for anybody, black, white or other, to do any kind of cleaning.
Not everything that whites have and blacks don't have can be attributed to racism. Life and the institutions of society and wealth creation are a little more complicated than that. You can argue whites got a headstart because their ancestors owned slaves, and their fathers got to eat lunch at segregated lunch counters, and they got to go to whites only beaches. But at some point you have to get out of memory and walk the current reality. Life is unfair, but you can seek opportunities.
The black schools are not as well funded. On average black children do not get the early childhood education that the average white kids might. The gates to the big seats of learning might favor the whites more than the nonwhites. It is a complex situation. There might be glass walls and ceilings at the workplace. Not there might, there are.
But despite all that there is no denying the importance of knowledge in wealth creation. Whites might have an unfair advantage in accumulating that education, and whites might even have unfair advantages at the workplace. But one of the starting points is strong families and strong communities that make the best of what is already available in terms of opportunity. The beauty of that argument is that strong family, and that strong community will also take the political actions necessary to expand the opportunities. You don't get to say, damn those white people, because of them I don't have a strong family, my community is not that strong, and it is not very well organized politically. All that you got to do on your own, and if you do that, good things start happening.
Grassroots organizing has amazing power.
And the conversation has to expand and move to mixed groups. It could look like this.
Black Person: Slavery happened. My people got wronged.
White Person: I could not agree more.
Black Person: Segregation happened. My people got wronged.
White Person: I agree.
Black Person: Slavery and segregation is the reason why I am still lagging behind in life today.
White Person 1: It is possible that is true.
White Person 2: C'mon, man. Get a life. If carrying the burden of dead white men is hard for you, why do you think it is any easy for me? I don't want to carry it either.
Black Person: Racism exists today.
White Person: Like how?
Black Person: America never had a black president. India has a Muslim president and a Sikh prime minister. An Italian born woman almost became prime minister of India.
White Person: Sorry, we are running late. But I am for Barack.
Black Person: All institutions of society are infected.
White Person: Most of the time most of the people in most of the institutions are doing things that are right and necessary and not racist at all. Don't throw the baby with the bathwater. You are going to have to get more specific than that.
Black Person: But racism exists.
White Person 1: Yes, it does.
White Person 2: No it does not.
I think the idea is to find common ground among blacks and whites that slavery and segregation were wrong. And then disagree on if racism still exists or not and in what form. The disagreement will be of degree, it will not be total one way or the other. The important thing, the most important thing, is that race has to be talked about. It matters less what form that conversation takes than that the conversation takes place in the first place.
If a Barack victory in South Carolina generate a white backlash on February 5, America is a sick country. Give a biracial man a biracial treatment. Barack is America's best hope of moving beyond the old and tired arguments on the issue of race relations.
Barackface: How To Play The Race Card In South Carolina
Barackface: Race, A Few Different Angles
Barackface: Race, NYC, Future, Globalization, Internet, Glass ...
Barackface: Race, Gender, Progressive, Conservative Divides
Barackface: Race, Gender
Barackface: The Spectrum/Dialogue Concept Is Key To Power
Barackface: White Media Says The Clintons Won Nevada
Barackface: Landscape Talk
Rediscovering Drinking Liberally
I think I might go ahead and become a regular. That would be a great way to build back my social muscles. I sorely need that.
The first day Justin Krebs saw me, he saw me do the hot dog thing that you do at Rudy's. If you don't know there is free hot dogs at Rudy's at the center of the known universe: Times Square. Krebs went ahead and ordered pizza for everybody. We had not talked yet.
All these videos down below are my handiwork.
I think I have always liked it so much that Drinking Liberally is so unstructured. I find that appealing. Some of the other organizations are too structured and not online enough for me. I think people don't realize NYC is the progressive capital, and going online is a way to reach out perhaps to small town across the country, for one. But then most folks get involved because to them it is more socializing and less political action. And, as they say, it is a free country.
Barackface: Drinking Liberally
Barackface: Facebook And Drinking Liberally
Barackface: DFNYC, Drinking Liberally, DL21C, Cosmopolity
Barackface: Laughing Liberally Brings The House Down December 30
Barackface: Hands Off Brooke Ellison
Barackface: Justin Krebs
Barackface: Liberally Tipsy
Barackface: Iraq Movie, Liberally, But Not Drinking
Barackface: Knock, Knock, Knocking On Heaven's Door
I have talked about at this blog about how I had to google him and that is how I found out Spitzer is Jewish. He looks like a white guy to me. And his last name is no better.
But then, can you tell the difference between a Pahadi and a Madhesi? Or a Tamil and a Maratha?
Most people are born into a certain religion. Most people are born black or white. What side of the race argument/discussion you are on often depends on that. And so I think it is a big deal that Barack is biracial, like really really big. The voters need to know he was raised by a white mother. That is fundamental to his identity. If voters on February 5 have to vote before knowing he was raised by a mother who happened to be white, Obama 2008 has not done a good job at all. I am dedicating February 5 to Barack's mother.
In The News
Obama, Reagan and the Internet New York Times In 2006, he says, he was the person whom most members of Congress (Democrats, presumably) sought to have come into their districts ...... “’Now, it is blasphemy for Democrats,” Obama pollster Cornell Belcher said of Reagan, “but that hope and optimism that was Ronald Reagan’ allowed him to ‘transcend’ ideological divisions within his own party and the general electorate.” ..... he says that when you discuss war with Baby Boomers, their frame of reference is Vietnam. “My frame of reference is what works” ..... The campaign is now running a biographical spot across the country.Obama's Relationship With Alleged Fixer The Associated Press