I have been wrestling with the idea of writing a guest post for a New York newspaper on the subject of racism. And as I thought about it I realized that even before I could start formulating the content of the article, I had to think about the onslaught of personal attacks I would have to endure just for bringing the topic up. Racism; Soon to be referred to as the "R" word. Something that we in America will be frowned on for mentioning or bringing up. Very difficult to discuss and address if you aren't even allowed to say it!
Sadly, racism is as ugly and devastating today as it has been in the last 50 years. And sadly, we as a nation fumble and stumble in our awkward attempts to deal with it. We do that partly because of a number of reasons: One reason is that the average person- Black or white- doesn't recognize it. If someone doesn't walk up to you and call you a ni**er or if you are not confronted with "no Blacks allowed" they just don't see it.
A second reason is that America- sub-consciously- has not embraced the humanity of African Americans. The whole culture and educational system in this country pushed the idea that black people are inferior. This was originally done to justify slavery to Judeo-Christian population. When slavery ended, no one went back and said, "you know all that stuff we taught you about Blacks being savages with no history or culture? Well, none of that is true. And so today, Americans still look at Blacks, largely, through those eyes. And as such, treat Blacks that way.
A third reason is many whites are just so defensive of any kind of criticism that says they are not perfect or that perhaps some of their success is not due only to their intelligence and hard work. I think this is partly what causes so many to always try to prove racism among Blacks or see "reverse-racism." Its like the kid who gets caught taking extra cookies and replies that his brother or sister did the same thing yesterday. They try to avoid their behavior.
There are more reasons racism is so touchy and difficult to talk about. Having said that, for me personally, I will continue to use the word racism when it fits. And, in spite of another big reason people don't use the word- the charge of pulling the "race card"- I am not going to see a duck and call it a horse.
If we are to heal this nation and move society even further along the road of democracy, we need to have honest discussion to find real solutions. The fact is racism is directly responsible for destroying millions of lives senselessly. It keeps human beings divided and blind to the real enemies of human progress- like war, corporate greed and corruption. It takes brave people to acknowledge that and a braver people to take action against it.