Friday, May 15, 2020

Dangerous Mindsets

Far too many people today – nationally and locally – believe that discussing race is itself inherently racist.  This idea is preposterous. This line of “thought” represents the failure to recognize the lived experiences of Black and Brown Americans – not to mention the impact of racism that manifests itself economically, politically, socially, culturally,  and psychologically…over the course of hundreds of years.

Of course, that is considering racism from a macro-perspective.  Turning to specific cases, it doesn’t take much energy to locate recent tragedies…some covered extensively in the media, others less so. 

If you don’t think Ahmaud Arbery would be alive today if he were jogging while white, you are fooling yourself.  If you don’t think that Breonna Taylor would be alive today if she was sleeping while white, you are deceiving yourself.  If you don’t think that Nina Pop would be alive today if she was simply living while white, you are deluding yourself.  And those are three lives, three stories, three of millions.

The problem isn’t just overt racists.  It’s never been just about the KKK, or other white nationalists, or fascists, or their fellow travelers.  They have clearly infected our nation for years.  The problem goes much farther and deeper…the mindset of “color-blindness,”  the lack of willingness to call out racism out of some twisted notion of “politeness,” or the selfish re-centering of discussions on race and its impact on society such as: “Well, my great-great-great grandparents were discriminated against because they were Irish.” Or “Our family never owned slaves.” Or some version of “Some of my best friends are Black,” (generally uttered immediately after a person is called out for saying something racist).

What does this have to do with Howard County, the geography of most interest to my readers?  Well, everything.  Howard County does not reside in some magical anti-racism bubble, it never has.  It’s the delusion that racism is waning in our society that is truly dangerous.  There must be no complacency in the struggle against it, whether it emanates from the White House or from one’s neighbor in Columbia.  It is pervasive and is interwoven in many current local debates, notably school redistricting and curriculum discussions.  If you can’t recognize that then perhaps you need to engage in some self-reflection.  And for my self-described liberal readers, remember that color-blindness is simply blindness.

In solidarity.

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