Last month, it was Eric Garner. Saturday, it was John Crawford and Mike Brown. Tomorrow, it could be my brother, my uncle, my cousin. Why? Because America still doesn’t recognize the humanity of Black people. It’s that simple.
This is some random Tweet that I ran across.
Black culture is popular, black people are not. pic.twitter.com/aMvvmSapcr
— B. Easy (@lifewannaB_Easy) August 17, 2014
This would be a great revelation to me, except that I said this weeks ago.
Also note that Justin Bieber has come out with a show of support on his Instagram Page.
— larissa (@kidrauhlarissa) August 19, 2014
The outrage and protests in Ferguson, MO are still going. Some people are being peaceful with their protests. Others are rioting. The police presence is increased and The National Guard has been deployed in the state of Missouri.
The unrest in Ferguson, MO has strong racial undertones. Some people say that this has been going on for a long time. For some people this is causing a discussion about race in America. When another young black man was killed in America, President Obama called for conversation on race to happen. I don’t remember having one in my office.
And then, finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.
Second City has some steps about how to have a conversation with someone about race. Here are the high points:
DO LISTEN MORE THAN YOU SPEAK.
DON’T MAKE THE CONVERSATION ABOUT YOU.
DO TREAT YOUR BLACK FRIENDS LIKE EXPERTS ON THE SUBJECTS OF RACE AND RACISM.
DON’T ASSUME THAT BECAUSE YOU’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED SOMETHING, IT DOESN’T EXIST.
DON’T SUGGEST THAT THE PERSON YOU ARE TALKING TO MIGHT BE BLOWING IT OUT OF PROPORTION.
DO EMPATHIZE WITH BLACK PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS.
DON’T SYMPATHIZE BY SAYING YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY.
DO ACKNOWLEDGE OTHER PEOPLE’S TRUTHS, EVEN WHEN THEY MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE.
DON’T DERAIL THE CONVERSATION.
DO AMPLIFY THE SIGNAL.
DON’T CHANGE THE SUBJECT.
If you find yourself having trouble with this then talk to someone of a different race. Ask them what their thoughts are and when they finish just say “Thank you.” Don’t say anything else, just “Thank You.” Don’t tell them they shouldn’t feel that way, don’t tell them that they are wrong, just “Thank you.”
It’s a start. Maybe eventually we’ll have this conversation we were supposed to have last year. This conversation will be hard but it needs to happen.
Handshake picture above from Wikipedia