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It Is Not What We Say to Black Men, It Is What We Do to Them

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When I hear his motherís messages to him that he must be sensitive to his skin color, no matter how beautiful it is, with admonishments that not doing so is a danger, it is arresting. Likewise, when I hear the conversations he and his young Black friends have about their place in America, I not only hear the specific dangers to which she refers, I hear other dangers that are stifling, diminishing and flat-out obstacles to the kind of life any of us would want for our children. It comes through loud and clear that racism continues to be a strong force in America. And, I think, when you get right down to it, this continues to be true because the hearts and souls on all sides of the equation, no matter how well intentioned, are not there yet.

I wish every caring white American could be sensitized to the pain, suffering and diminishment that is embodied in the minority mindset. This is not a black issue, an Asian, Hispanic, a Jewish or Muslim issue Ė itís everyoneís issue. I wish every caring white American could see that laws and rights and diversity initiatives, while helpful, will not resolve the issue by itself. It also requires genuinely extending your heart and soul, compassionately and over a sustained period, because there is much residue and much distrust to overcome.

Seeing life through another’s eyes

I wish every caring black person (this could well be true of other minority populations but I live in a black family and hear their conversations first-hand) could also understand his or her role in perpetuating prejudice. I think, for example, black people give white people far too much credit for being intentionally discriminating when I think much of what fires Blacks up about whites results from our insensitivity, ignorance or oblivion. We simply canít see life through anotherís eyes and, to put it bluntly, weíre mostly concerned with ourselves. Those who donít face racial discrimination just donít think nearly as much about Black/white issues.

Frankly, I think weíd forward the ball if we all just owned up to the fact that there is prejudice in each of us. That may open the door to a different and more generous conversation toward a resolution. It would be more effective than simply debating whether there is prejudice, who owns it, and whoís accountable for fixing it. Whether prejudice exists as an active element of our social fabric is a foolish question. Itís in and around us every day – just look and listen.

 

Related stories:

Update: Trayvon Martin Case Developments

From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin: How Black Women Turn Grief †into Action

Rodney King on Trayvon Martin

 

 

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70 comments

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3:43PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Don,t know why the pale skinned people think they are superior than others. They have however made the best killing weapons and therefore hold the upper hand.

3:43PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Don,t know why the pale skinned people think they are superior than others. They have however made the best killing weapons and therefore hold the upper hand.

7:37AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Most black people can not trace their family tree..... that was taken from them when they were kidnapped and sold. ------- many can not trace their family tree because at least one of their ancestors was a white man who arranged to have the infant sent to another county and sold so as not to dirty their good name by letting it be known they used the slaves for their sexual fun....
As a people we should be trying to give back what we can of what was taken from them, we can not turn back history and change it, but instead of accusing our brothers and sisters of trying to "take the system for all they can" maybe we could show some love, act as if we FINALLY figured out the prior treatment of them was wrong and treat them as fellow human beings instead of saying that because of what our ancestors did to them they are less than really human........
Do you also believe that antisemitism is caused by those who say the Nazis were wrong???

7:36AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

".." we can all see that you are strong in your beliefs----- you will not even give us the consideration of a made-up name but feel that ".." is enough and we are to accept your twisted views as the real thing........... I do not for a minute believe that the issue with racism is that black people are trying to play the system for all they can get.... the main problem is folks who think that !!!
Generations ago our ancestors treated their ancestors in a disgusting manner ----- ripped them from their natural life within their villages and families/ put them in chains, on a ship, took them 1/2 way around the world and sold them as if they were property/less than human. The new owners were either kindly or not.... consider today, how there are all those jokes and comments about shepherds having sex with the sheep and the like......... Some of the owners used the females as sex slaves, they had no rights, and if a man got his jollies by beating a woman almost to death or even cutting into their flesh with a knife and having sex with the wound so be it...... these were human beings treated so incredibly badly at the hands of other humans.... some just bred them to whomever (like a puppy mill operation) to 'improve the breed' and would take and sell off their children for profit.
Most black people can not trace their family tree..... that was taken from them when they were kidnapped and sold. ------- many can not trace their family tree because at least one of their ancest

5:05AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Ernest..... you claim that black people are more violent because there are so many in prison..... yes statically there is a much higher percentage of blacks in prison than whites.... partly due to finance, partly due to racism NOT because being black means you are a violent criminal but because blacks are viewed as 'a problem', less deserving of the good things in life, unclean, and despised by so many whites. ------- to follow your (flawed) logic........... Americans as a nation should not be allowed to travel to other countries. The United States has the highest prison population in the world, almost double what other countries have.... so Americans are basically ALL violent criminals and should not be allowed in polite society (read in civilized countries).
Everyone should try to love their fellow humans, not always attempt to abuse and degrade them, in an attempt to make ourselves look better..... such behavior is disgusting.

11:29PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

This is just saying it like it is ...the kids need to be told they are in danger and that the world is racist - being politically correct and pretending the world is an equal place is not sensible.

8:43PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

@ Stephen B.. “Second, does treating every interracial killing as a hate-crime help or hinder anti-racist efforts? “ That is not the case. Only when bkacks are killed by whites is it advertised as a hate crime. When blacks kill whites or other blacks, it is virtually ignored.



8:36PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

@ Jane B.. “Nobody wants to kill their own relatives.” Sorry Jane. There is a reason that the first suspect in a murder is a spouse or other family member. Beige people kill each other every day.

8:32PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

@ Nyack C.. “Does the WHITE community need to get their young criminals off the streets” That might not be a bad idea, especially if the white kids had as high a proportion of criminals, “gangstas” car boosters, Crips and Bloods gangs etc as the black kids. Or perhaps you are not aware that that is the case ? Judging people by the color of their skin rather than their actions as you do is racist, -(and you are apparently too ignorant to realise it)





7:23PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Intermarriage is the answer. Nobody wants to kill their own relatives. In the future everybody will be beige.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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