If to extract death, violence, exclusion, and torture...racism and and the very
notion of human inequality would be a lot of silliness practiced on a grand
scale. It is so contrary to the natural evolutions of humanity- it simply makes
no sense. Sometimes well-intended people make comments perceived to be
offensive because they see the silliness but underestimate the sensitivity
others may have for, you know...those topics of which we fear the discussion.
Kinda funny in a way...
In American society there exist pockets of residual
awkwardness among our multi-ethnic citizenship. As an
example, have you ever experienced the fear that you
don't know how to talk to people of another race? Now
that's silly! Awkwardness is a dish best appreciated through its
embrace. At this stage in the evolution of both the individual and greater
society it is natural we may feel awkward as we have only recently begun
to realize (to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy)...."we just might be equal"
Sometimes we hear or see things in our society that
have inadvertent racist undertones but are derived of
good intentions (or at least in the absense of malice).
Following are some examples, some are funny, some are
personal "pet-peeves". How many times have you heard or
-A black athlete referred to "as a very articulate/intelligent young man"
athlete. You too have likely heard commentary along these lines-
perhaps on numerous occasions (esp. if you're a sports fan). The likely
intent is to show one's self as a person who appreciates the athlete as an
individual outside the arena of athletics- nothing wrong with it really...just
kinda' funny. But, then again...the statement could also be interpreted
as..."well, he are tickulate but the rest of em ain't"
trust him like my brother" when referring to the character played by a black
man?...sometimes feels like disingenuous pandering really.
-A white person, in the presence of a black person, reluctant to refer to an item,
next to the sink")
-A person overly critical of a person of different race in an obvious effort
to show their point originates from analysis of character and deed.
Sometimes the criticism will be directed at a minority individual for
commission of a deed, the nature of which, may likely be interpreted as
'catering to stereotype'. Double credit (due to degree of difficulty) applies
to the person who can pull this off successfully as they have
demonstrated an expectation that they will perceived as one who holds
racial stereotypes in low regard and it is not a factor in their own
assessment of an individual. Perhaps a representation of progress
Reference to Martin Luther King Jr as Dr. King rather then
Rev. King...It seems likely he would have preferred the term
"Reverend" as that certainly seemed the term most relevant
to the source of his insights and strengths. Who is it using the
term doctor? Quite possibly a quantum leap in logic
but...does the term "Doctor" imply a subtle concession to the
establishment? (in those times much more white in contrast to
There is hope found in the many virtues and values shared in common by all good
people. There is also the threat of the many shared apprehensions and fears. In
the darker corners of a collective psyche there are the lower instincts begging for
boundary within the parameters of those things both familiar and known. Belief and
behavior then narrow to assume the mean. Anything outside the parameter is either
punished or, prohibited reward. Ultimately that in occupation of either extreme loses
all discernible distinction and all is lost in the vacuum left by the many merely aspiring
to be the last.
A holiday picnic with those only thought to be strangers would have secured
an entirely different outcome.