Why is there such anger, defensiveness and aversion to speaking about race and the lack of fair balance in our society as a result of racism to certain members of our society? Why is it so difficult to speak with them about these issues when others see it so clearly? Your race can determine where you live, what you do for work, what car you drive and sometimes if you live or die.. There is no doubt that perspective is the most important factor. What perspective did you grow up with? What perspective do you live with now? Have you ever had to navigate the things that minorities in this country have to navigate often as a matter of life and death?
I have had occasion to speak with white colleagues and friends about racial issues in this country. I tend to be a bit of a stubborn type believing that I can provide the majority with minority perspective if they would just hear it out. And on almost as many occasions, I have been iced out, drowned out, cried out or just plain put out. Most simply did not want to hear it and frankly were not prepared for the feeling it gave them deep down inside. Reason went out the door and emotion took over. This reaction is not intentional. The feeling inside is not controllable. It is the result of a perspective minorities have a difficult time understanding because their race has been front and center in their lives since birth. How can they possibly understand the perspective of someone who has not had to think about their race for the majority of their lives? Professor of communications Judith Martin described it this way:
"As in other Western nations, white children born in the United States inherit the moral predicament of living in a white supremacist society. Raised to experience their racially based advantages as fair and normal, white children receive little if any instruction regarding the predicament they face. let alone any guidance in how to resolve it. Therefore, they experience or learn about racial tension without understanding Euro-American' historical responsibility for it and knowing virtually nothing about their contemporary rolls in perpetuating it." Prof. Judith Martin
If one is bombarded from birth with a positive self image from family, media, history and society, and they are suddenly confronted with the possibility they are not quite as perfect as they were led to believe, their heroes are not as perfect as they were taught to believe, and that the country they were taught to pledge allegiance to was built on the backs of people who were denied their liberties, stripped of their rights, names, country, religion, language etc., they will understandably have a difficult time reconciling the truth with what they have been taught.
After all, how can the people they were taught were so good and righteous have such a sordid history? How can they be complicit in supporting such sinister systems if they have no animosity towards minorities at all? The mere suggestion one may have benefited from something that was racist, or that they are complicit in a current system that is oppressive, challenges their positive self image. For this reason, they will fight to maintain that positive self image.
Understand, this is not a dig at them. This is a reality that many in America face which is both difficult and emotionally draining. While it is clear individual bias and systemic racism is incredibly painful for minorities, changing this system will require empathy, perspective, and the type of patience that is unrivaled in our modern day society. Hate is not going to change a thing. Violence is going to make it worse. Ignorance will only keep it going. Education, action and love will chip away at the stone wall that separates us and will help all us to unmask the Biasphere.