Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reflections on Race Relations

I've talked about racial issues a few times before on my blog, but I thought today was a good time to visit the issue again.  

Had an interesting talk online today about racial relations.  I thought I'd share some of the discussion, and a few related observations.

Here's the opening commentary from an online friend of mine named Michael.  (Mike was a floor-mate of mine on 2nd Marston (South) at Seattle Pacific University in 1987/1988.)

"People are beginning to act like it will be the end of the world as we know it if Zimmerman is found innocent, as if the decision (either way) will tell them something they don't already know about anti-Black racism, as if a not-guilty verdict will somehow make them angry enough to...what? Write a Facebook post?"

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to enter the discussion; this was probably a mistake.  

"I'm just a Norwegian/German guy who tries to do the right thing. This has gotten me in some trouble lately, but I digress... I'd only respectfully suggest that the issue of racial justice has less to do with the outcome of a particular legal battle involving one incident--the ultimate facts and details of which are arguably only known to a single living man--than how we all care and respect each other daily. Probably a sappy cliche...but I suggest it begins with our individual interactions rather than projecting larger meanings and symbolism onto court decisions of this nature. The world will continue to spin if Zimmerman is exonerated, but our participation within it will see a setback if we focus squarely upon the negative and never the positive."

Now, I realize that I'm not all that knowledgeable on liberal ways of thinking, but I thought the next post was an interesting one by a man named Rob Gross.  (I actually appreciated his cordial tone, by the way.)

"'s not a matter of good intentions, although that's needed as well. It's a matter of systematic, structural and pervasive oppression that the majority, i.e., white people, allow to continue in the same way that most of us walk past homeless people without batting an eye. 

It's not just me a matter of me treating my (all to rare) Black friends well; it's a matter of me being moved to act as if injustice to Black folk was/is as serious to me as injustice to Jews, or people with disabilities (groups I am a member of).

My more disabled children have taught me how blind I was to "ableism," the tremendous oppression disabled people suffer at the hands of the able-bodied. It is one thing to be aware of ableism or racist; it's yet another entirely to really "get" what living as an oppressed person feels like and to act accordingly as an ally.

I try to keep on learning, and acting, about Black oppression. I use my own experience of growing up working class and experiencing systematic antisemitism to help me understand."

About this time, Michael decided to remind me that I was indeed not of African American heritage, which, of course, was just riotously original and funny (not to mention dismissive and condescending), and other comments soon followed--once I was pegged as free game.  

Now, I find it interesting that when discussing issues like this with liberals, they seem loathe to discuss the fundamentals of your argument, but they instead focus often squarely upon personal observations--as if it's easier to dismiss your thoughts and observations through personal attack than reasoned intellectual argument.  

I guess I learned my lesson: don't ever venture to discuss race relations should you happen to be white; we can, of course, have no opinions or thoughts of any objective value.  It's interesting, though...because this constant drumbeat of victimhood and anger doesn't seem reflected in the writings of Martin Luther King.

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."

How about talking a little more about the good that takes place within race relations, because there's certainly a lot more good than evil evidenced around us.  In short, how about a little less anger and a little less inflammatory rhetoric?  Just my two cents for the day.

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