“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”
Attorney General Eric Holder’s remarks struck a nerve with a quite a few people, and even had Obama basically sonning Holder for saying it. It’s possibly (and unfortunately) already retread, but I don’t care…I want to discuss it more. I think it’ll always be a valid argument.
We refuse to discuss it. Well, most of us refuse to discuss it. Black people will talk about this all day long, but our collective issue is that we can’t talk about with a cohesive voice, without subjectivity. This is obviously with great reason, but it remains a mental/emotional block in the black community.
Most white people, the majority, won’t talk about because it just makes them largely uneasy, for a variety of reasons: overall (and the selective kind of) ignorance of the black/latino/etc. communities in its problems and viable solutions, fear of retaliation, spawning from said ignorance, and/or general apathy.
Now – don’t get me wrong. We’ve advanced in lots of ways. But I still here arguments like….”why should we have to be obsessed with race?…” Why? Because it literally affects everyone. I’m not suggesting fanaticism, but that question suggests a level of indifference, that is really becoming a death knell in the efforts to start any real discussion about it.
We are becoming sedated on issues like these, through our gadgets and sprawling suburbs. There is no need to connect with other if you leave outside of it all. I think the issue is that we no longer make our times, we are a product of our times – meaning we have a lot of answers, more and more pre-formed for us, but we are no longer asking the correct questions because of it. We have a mismatch of question/answer here. We are almost fatally confused and yet we continually talk about it – with no consequence.
Prime example – I watch the 2-part CNN series of Black in America with Soledad O’Brien. And it showed a family that comes together for a family reunion, and a bit about a relatively young black man trying to find employment, and how hard it was to be black, on both sides of the fence. The glass ceiling, the expectations, the breaking down of doors, etc.
But it never attacked the issues of….really anything with any significant force. Why wasn’t Soledad asking how the effects of slavery and the the release of black Americans as slaves continues to shape the black family structure? Where is the comparisons of the quality of education given in urban areas, to even middle class areas? Why wasn’t the definition and beginnings of ghetto life discussed? Why weren’t the prejudices of black/latin/indigenous races being talked about?
Even more than that – why weren’t the unchecked prejudices (pulled from the European origins) in the very beginnings of America ‘checked’? Where is a national discussion on the destruction of the indigenous Americans, and how they continue to affect people today? Why are outright lies continually printed and taught in our classrooms?
Maybe we are pussified. A lot of time, in the course of world history, it hasn’t been worth the time to ask these questions, because either you were threatened, muted, or just shot in the back of the skull. Who needs that kind of headache?
On top of that, again, we are pontificating the bullshit of the day (i.e. me) or driving our new cars or looking at hardwood flooring. Who has the time to talk about race?
Our TV sets are bombarding us with images, further ingraining ‘the bullshit’ in our minds, and they never show what’s really happening, because “….who’s got the means to do anything about it anyways…it’s so far away…and I can only take care of me and my family…and I got bills.”
And we have Obama now. Change is going to coming soon, we hope. If he can’t change anything, then…who’s got the power to do it? We do. If we can just turn off the TVs and get together to kill the issues we have…..
We’re tamed, controlled, and, to this point, defeated. We’re fully capable of discussing race, but never from the beginning going forward, always from the end now, going back. And that is the crux. Our thinking on race has been reduced to CNN two part series and YouTube lectures, but it fits our current mindset. This is key. Race and talking about race can’t be contained in time slots. It can’t be regimented, relegated strictly to half-assed forums of the ‘usual suspects’ in the race relations. Starting from the top requires long research, past even American history, which would open up shit that most people, regardless of race, would really rather not discuss.
We aren’t afraid of each other, or what we might say about each other. We, specifically certain peoples, are afraid of history will say about us – all of us.
It’s time to took a look at ourselves, and ask that collective person who we are.
There is a much older set of words, a quote attributed to Mark Twain:
“The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession, but carrying a banner.”