I live in a city that is full of racism…I’m told. It would be more correct to say that in our city there is talk of a problem with racism but only as it exists between black and white. It doesn’t matter that we have a large Hispanic and Asian population; they don’t count in the eyes of those seeking equality and justice. Sorry but even in regard to blacks and whites I don’t see this racism mulling around in the corners of my day. I’m a middle aged white guy so I must be blind to it in some way. I have black friends, worship with black people, work with black pastors and their churches and we all get along just dandy as friends do. We don’t focus on racism when we get together and we don’t experience it when we get together. I never look at them as any less than myself and I feel they do the same. To be honest I put a few of these men on pedestal way above my level. I don’t see on the news where whites are beating or lynching blacks or vice versa. There’s no rioting in our city as a result of some race issue. So where is all this racism? I don’t see how it could be from inequalities. When I graduated college 17 years ago there were as many blacks as whites pursuing their dream of an education. The city and county government offices are both my clients and there are more blacks than whites employed throughout these buildings in all positions. I just don’t see inequality being the root of racism unless you’re talking about position and pay rate. If that’s the case the racism rhetoric doesn’t match the offense because to listen to most you’d think people were being beaten to death. I think racism has just become a talking point of politicians that make money and get votes by casting themselves as the savior of black people. In our city, the old mayor constantly responded to those who questioned his integrity by saying they were only interested in getting him out of office because of the color of his skin hoping to rally the black vote around him. His successor was black and voted in by a huge white vote. On the other side of the same coin you have the arrogant whites that say it’s solely all the black politicians’ fault that our city is going to hell in a hand basket because they turn a blind eye toward crime and corruption as if it benefits the black community in some way. There’s no doubt we have a lot of crime.
I think the problem is that people feel racist or claim others are racist when really it is fear. In the course of my life I’ve met white folks who think blacks have a propensity toward crime but on the outside they act as nice as possible toward them. I can respect that because I believe it’s a fear-based attitude and not a desire to write off a whole race. They don’t isolate themselves from blacks. They are not shying away from facing their fears and trying to understand and prove themselves wrong. Recently we had a black mayor that just about everyone in the city came to hate for many reasons(other than race). He stepped down from the position and was replaced by a black mayor that was voted into office with a large amount of the white vote. He was a man of integrity and had a history of serving in our city. This shows that the white population is still willing to trust a black politician in a city where black politicians have a very bad habit of being corrupt. I’ve met black folks who have a hard time trusting white folks. I don’t know this because they tell me but I can pick up on their distrust when discussing people in power in politics and business. I feel that they are only hesitant to trust not completely distrustful. I respect that because I believe that is also fear-based and not a desire to write off a whole race. My daughter is eight years old and is talking to a black friend from her class on the phone. She talks to her EVERY day and on the weekend several times a day. They both put their phones on speaker and do stuff while they are talking…sometimes not even talking. It’s like they are hanging out. We’ve asked her friend’s parents a dozen times if this child can come over and they’ve given us a new reason every time why she can’t. They have never asked our daughter to come play at their house. I consider that fear not “racism”. It might totally be racism but on the surface I can’t claim that.
It seems that within blacks and whites alike there are three categories of how people view race relations: indifferent, fearful, and racist. I submit that even in my city “full of racism”, the majority of our city is indifferent (they go about living their lives not thinking about it), then there are the fearful I spoke of above, and then there are the racists. I think racists that blame whites or blacks for their ills are in a very small minority. But again, I’m a middle-aged white…what could I possibly know? I’m totally basing this on 45 years of living in the same city, observing the behavior of politicians, news stories and discussions with my black friends. I’m not aware of any scientific data to support any of this.
Now, stop for one second and read this….if you are wincing and have already decided I’m a racist because I am using the word “black” you’re the type of moron I’m getting ready to rant about. I bet you were NOT offended at my use of the word “white”….were you?
There’s a type of idiot I run across from time to time and they are always white. They are so worried about this thing called racism. My guess is they have NEVER experienced racism and have NEVER truly empathized with someone who has experienced it. It’s just something they know is bad, people talk about it a lot and no one should experience it. They hear all the catch phrases and pickup on what situations bring attention to the dilemma. They are recognized by their quick desire to call attention to any action or word that might be interpreted as “racism” and demand correction. I would like to give you two examples. As I give these examples you will have to trust that I and my friend do not have a racist bone in our bodies. You’ll have to trust me because that is something that can only be proven by actions not words.
Example one: my friend is a young gentleman who is a senior in high school and is one of the kindest giants I’ve ever met(6’5″, 300 lbs??). He attended a black history program and during the program a group of black kids were disruptive while he was trying to pay attention. He later posted on Facebook his shock at the irony “you would think that black people would be polite and courteous during a black history program”. The comments that followed would make you lose your mind!! He was taken to the woodshed on FB for his attitude toward black people. And the clincher was from the idiot that posted “would you say the same thing if it had been white kids at a white history program?”. All the comments were from white people too. If a black person questioned him I would be patient only because I can’t pretend to understand what it’s like to live in a black man’s world and how I would digest comments about black people. But one of his black, sane friends jokingly said “I don’t go to black history programs!”
Example two: I posted the following after reading it in the bible Leviticus 25:6 “The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired servant and the sojourner who lives with you….”:23 “For you are strangers and sojourners with Me.” The first comment was “Is this slave approval?”. Because I know this person, I knew that they were not joking. I am shocked to think that’s what stood out after reading this passage…and he was white.
Why can’t what we say be taken at face value and judged in light of who we are? These responders are like little racism detectives that think they’re on the verge of flushing out a couple of KKK members. If either of us were known as racist nutcases then these folks would have every right to question our statements vehemently. But these responses come from people who know us!! They’ve done the opposite of what Aristotle was talking about when he said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”. They don’t completely entertain what is being said and still reject it. Our use of the word “black” and “slave” freaked them out so much that they couldn’t even read it in context of who said it and surmise its meaning. To them it reeks of racism, they don’t process properly, knee jerk and begin correcting something that doesn’t need to be corrected. It was righteousness for them to stand against racism. It’s like a guy in a theatre watching a movie with a scene with a burning fire. The man knows fires are bad and must be extinguished so he stands and screams “FIRE!!!”. People will be alarmed initially and it is a fire….but it’s in the movie. It has to be looked at in context.
People have become confused about racism and don’t clearly understand what it means or even try to understand. I’m not stupid enough to think that racism doesn’t exist. I just think that it’s become a word that gets misapplied a lot.