Thursday, August 28, 2014

Racism: It's Not Black and White

I am sure, if you live in the United States, you have heard and read a lot about racism during the past couple weeks. The dual topics of Ferguson, MO and Michael Brown have filled your news feeds. Twitter, FB, blog reels, news pundit articles.

The chatter/noise/conversation has overridden the death of Robin Williams, which displaced any mention of Syria and the beheadings of Christian children over there.

It's news. It's the way news rolls. Fresh sells.

The BFF and I discussed this issue of racism for over an hour last week during our bi-weekly brunch. After our conversation I decided that this whole issue is not a clear cut, black and white (not talking skin color here) issue. There are so many nuances. I want to address a few of them.

1. It is being portrayed that if you're white you are racist. Obviously. You must be. That's all that is to it. If not blatantly, then in your heart of hearts.


Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. It is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.

That's the Webster's dictionary definition there. I am not racist. I don't do those things. And I don't teach my children to act or think that way either.

Prejudice is opinion. Discrimination is action. Antagonism is active hostility or opposition.

None of those words describe me.

I'm not racist.

And I'm not in denial either.

Racism starts in the heart and bleeds to actions. Unless I am completely blinded to my own heart, there is nothing in my attitudes, actions, or words that is racist.

It doesn't make me racist just because someone who doesn't know me says that I am.

2. No one is born racist-it is learned.

IRL, last night as I was walking out my door I noticed a group of half a dozen preteen black boys on bikes on the sidewalk in front of my house. I greeted them. How's it going guys? They asked if I had pliers so they could fix their bike. My husband went out to his truck, found tools and helped them fix the bike. As they were working, one of the kids called the other a nigger. My husband told him not to say that. The boy said he could say that because he was black. My husband said he shouldn't because it is rude. The boy cussed out my husband, and said things about my husband being white, and asked him if he was going to call the police. That boy brought up race, not us. We were being neighborly and friendly. What has this kid experienced and been taught that he would even go there?

3. I refuse to accept white guilt and I do not feel the need to apologize for being white. None of us chose our skin color. We do choose prejudices that are associated with skin color. But, we don't have to. I also will not apologize for slavery or the KKK. I wasn't there. They were not my actions.

It is part of our history. It isn't pretty. It isn't something we should be proud of. By neither do I need to apologize for it.

What I am accountable/culpable for is my own actions and my own attitudes.

4. The BFF and I were talking about racial slurs/terms that we didn't even know were slurs until recently (some of them of them I'd never even heard of). Does that make us racist? Some people would say it does. I actually think that it means the opposite. We aren't throwing around slurs with the intent of offending or belittling. It may be naive, but it is not racist.

If we stop emphasizing the difference, would it make a difference?

5. The lines between racism, stereotypes and facts/stats can be quite blurry. If the truth is not pleasant and you believe it, does that make you racist?

6. A lot of bloggers have been throwing around ideas and words. Where are our racial friends? Where are people of race at our blogger meet ups and conferences? Where is the racial representation on our contributor blogs?

There is no reason for all races not to be represented in the blogging world. And, actually, they are.

But, I am not going to tally up my various friends of different races. That is insulting to them. That is making friendship a race issue. When in fact friendship transcends race and race should have nothing to do with it. Friendship is so much broader than skin color. I am sure there are people who refuse to be friends with someone of another race. That is racist. I don't. People are people and everyone needs friends.

Also, about the blogging conferences/contributor blog thing-I could be naive, but I think it is more of an issue of cliques than of color. A lot of big bloggers have their friends. Their circle. Their tribe. They are willing for you to come up to them at conferences and join their fan club, but they are often not looking for more friends. They want followers, not friends. I realize everyone can't be bosom pals with everyone, but some people aren't even open to new friendships with someone who is not someone.

It's true.

It isn't even always ugly. One of the perks/burdens of writing publicly is that people know you, or feel they know you. But, you don't know them. People become numbers, not faces and hearts.

So, maybe you want to be the difference in the racial issue. Then just be the difference. Don't only befriend people who are like you-race, economic status, interests. Broaden your horizons. Color your rainbow.

7. It keeps being said that Michael Brown was unarmed. This obviously is a bigger point than I think it is. And I am in the minority, I'll grant you that.

Most of us are unarmed. I own a gun, but I don't carry it around. It isn't legal to carry a gun around unless you have a concealed weapons permit or unless you carry it completely openly. And even then there are rules and regulations about where you can carry.

So, is the issue the fact that someone was unarmed (not unusual) or that someone was killed?

If the issue is murder or killing, it is a travesty whenever an innocent person is murdered or even killed accidentally.

If the issue is about killing someone defenseless and unarmed, what about all the innocent, unarmed children being beheaded by the ISIS? We've forgotten about those unarmed little people.

Of all the posts and articles I've read lately, this one was the most interesting. It is about blacks and whether the 2nd amendment (the right to bear arms) applies to them. Obviously it does. Practically, this author had some valid points. The best point was that if a white person owns and carries a gun, they are considered a law-abiding, patriotic citizen. If a black person carries a gun, they are looked on as a thug. Wow.

(the remainder of this point has been edited since I started this post)

I read an article in National Review last night (ironically enough, after the incident with the boys and the bikes) about gun control and race. It was eye opening. I now get it why the unarmed thing is a big deal.

Did you know that gun control has always had it roots in keeping guns from the black population? Say what? An armed people is less likely to be an oppressed people. Surprisingly enough, when the oppressed fight back, the oppressors often get the message that this is not okay.

I unequivocally believe the 2nd amendment applies to all American citizens, regardless of their race. It is a basic freedom for all. I am willing to do whatever necessary to make that a reality.

Also, because more of the black population is killed by guns than anything else, they are more for gun control. But, this could be working against them-i.e. all the unarmed citizens that have been killed recently.

8. George Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury for the killing of Trayvon Martin. He was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter by a jury. In our country's legal system we operate under the principle of innocent until proven guilty. George Zimmerman was acquitted.

An acquittal is to be free from the charge of an offense.

Did a guilty man go free? A whole lot of people on social media this week seem to think so.

Frankly, the fact that a jury of 12 people with a whole lot more evidence than I have, acquitted him, is good enough for me. That makes me a racist according to some.

John Adams had two great quotes that apply to this situation...

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, "whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection," and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.

So, what do you think-about any or all of these points?