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September 2015

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Archie Bunker

"You see, I don’t talk about race with White people."

There are parts of this piece that I agree with, and some that I question. But what I really want to say after reading this is: Please, please, please keep talking to white people about race! No matter what race you are we need to keep talking about this and make things right.

I get his frustration because I was once that white guy who said, "What do you mean? I don't see racist behavior where I live." Looking back it must have been mind-bendingly frustrating for my friend to hear me say that. Of course at the time Maine was in the top 2 or 3 whitest states in the country and it's difficult to see blatant racism when there's only one race around (and it never occured to me to wonder why there was very little diversity here).

Several years ago we saw more diversity through immigration, and the apparent racism started before people even arrived. Since then I have been shocked and sickened over and over again at the despicable things I've heard people say and do in my little corner of the world. But I might not have truly seen it even then if I hadn't had those previous conversations with black friends who assured me racism was alive and well, even in my often idyllic-seeming state. Because of these conversations I was better able to be awake to it when it happened and to start talking to others about what is going on; without those conversations I might never have even noticed.

So please, everyone, let's keep talking even though it might often seem uncomfortable, hopeless, and maddening. I know I have so much more to learn, and this never gets better otherwise.



This is a really great article overall. And, in truth, it echoes a great deal of what I've shared on FB and G+ over the last several weeks on racism and specifically, structural/institutional racism.

I obviously benefit from a racist society. I've undoubtedly taken it for granted, too, and contributed to it unknowingly. BUT, I'm also very aware of its place in my life and in the lives of all white people.

The author wrote, "I don’t talk about race with White people because I have so often seen it go nowhere." YES. As a white person, I get deeply frustrated when I try to explain white privilege or structural racism to other whites and it gets completely batted down. It's difficult for me to even argue my point when the counter point is so illogical to me. But the truth is, the discussion HAS to be perpetuated by white people because we're the ones perpetuating racism. We're the ones blind to it and it is, therefore, our responsibility to educate other whites. That's not to say that blacks can't or shouldn't also have a role, but understandably, for it to be taken seriously (which is also unfortunate bullshit) we have to be the ones opening the discussion.
I get frustrated with that too but can you imagine how frustrating it is for a black person? I can try but my imagination probably falls short.

As the author said a very common reaction is to individualize it and say, "Well I'm not racist." That statement probably isn't true; I think pretty much everyone is racist to varying degrees. But even if it were 100% true, that doesn't mean that it isn't happening and isn't a problem we all need to address. Not actively participating in the solution is complicity.

Edited at 2015-07-11 03:42 pm (UTC)