Sunday, June 20, 2010

Talking About Race

Maybe some of you caught the CNN article arguing that President Obama needed to display a measured, calm response to the BP-Gulf crisis in order to avoid scaring whites with the “angry black man” stereotype. Many readers were offended and even disgusted by this argument, while others found it valid. One sentiment was strong – why do we have to keep talking about race?

Why is it that some of us don’t like to talk about race? Here are some possible reasons, based on research and my own experience in teaching a class in Multicultural Education for several years:

1. We have a black President now, which proves we’re a post-racial society.

2. Talking about race just makes things worse. We should move on.

3. Only racists think about race. The rest of us are colorblind.

4. People are individuals and should be judged thusly.

5. “Minorities” have it better than whites now.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the young people I know (students of color and whites alike) are not talking about race. They’re not talking about why some of them went to affluent schools and others received substandard educations that did not prepare them for college. They’re not talking about how some of them never got to know a person of color until they came to the grand metropolis of Phoenixville, PA. They’re not talking about how the only time they’ve ever heard race mentioned in their churches was when someone sang the immortal words, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…” (and that’s a topic for another post).

Sadly, not talking about an issue doesn’t make it go away.

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