Monday, July 11, 2016
Our Problem is Racism, Not Race!
Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings got it wrong.
Like most prominent voices speaking out against the violence by and against police officers last week, Rawlings told a crowd at Dallas' largest black-centric church yesterday that "race is the big issue."
No, race is not the big issue. Racism is the big issue.
Maybe that's what Rawlings meant to say, but that's not what he said. Instead, he reiterated a false narrative that has been repeated by pastors, columnists, so-called social experts, and other public figures these past few days, in which ours is a white-black crisis.
Isn't that itself a form of racism?
Do we have a race problem, when the vast majority of white people and black people somehow manage to live and work in a closer proximity than we ever have before in the United States? Do we have a race problem when interracial marriage has become relatively acceptable; even trendy in America's more cosmopolitan areas? Few whites believed Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were impaired by their race as Secretary of State under George W. Bush. Dallas' police chief is a black man, and while several of the city's police unions have complained about his policies over the years, none of them seem to factor his race into their disagreements with him.
Nevertheless, America does have a problem with racism. An interracial couple I know was asked to leave a large Baptist church in suburban Virginia because some racist deacons (who are white) were uncomfortable in their presence. An acquaintance of mine here in Texas who is a Muslim from the Middle East once told me point-blank that he didn't like black people. A black acquaintance of mine from Nigeria told me more than once that he couldn't stand American blacks - try to parse that one out by skin color!
I also understand that many blacks feel like they're some sort of underclass in their own country. For example, even though I no longer live in New York City, I've written on this blog about my opposition to the NYPD's policy of "stop-and-frisk" that was officially based on skin color, and particularly biased against men. It is blatantly unConstitutional to rationalize that even if black people may commit a majority of crimes, any black person walking down the street might be getting ready to commit a crime, or might have recently committed one.
When I lived in New York, there were at least two times I still vividly recall when I was mocked by young black people - one time it was men, the other time, women - on the subways for being white. One time, as I rode in a private automobile full of black friends, being driven by a black woman, as we were going for dinner at Sylvia's in Harlem, we were refused service at several parking garages... until I guessed that the problem was my skin color, and I was in the front passenger seat, where parking garage attendants could clearly see me. I got out of the car, my black female friend pulled into one of the same parking garages where we'd been denied, and she got a spot without any problems whatsoever.
Granted, that's not the same as being pulled over and having a cop stick his revolver in my face for no apparent reason, other than the color of my skin. But it lends significant credence to the idea that it's not just white people who can be bigots.
So why can't we call the problem for what it is? Race isn't the problem, but racism!
Meanwhile, let's recall those famous words of Martin Luther King Jr., who hoped for a day in which his kids would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Amen! Right? That's what I want. And I know I'm not the only one.
There are many Americans who want to live in peace and harmony, as corny as that sounds. But we're not white, or black, or brown, or polka-dotted. We're people who simply want to be judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.