When I have a conversation about race or racism with someone white, I tend to get a few common responses. One being the fact that they weren’t even alive for things like slavery and Jim Crow, so they shouldn’t be blamed for it (not that I ever did). Another is the idea that if their family migrated to this country with nothing and made something of themselves, people of color should be able to do the same. Yet another, and one of my personal favorites, is that racism is somehow only a big deal, because it is talked about so much. If I make the point that a large segment of people of color are currently at the bottom of virtually every socioeconomic indicator, many brush it off as an exaggeration.
As a man of color, when I speak on race or racism, it is not for the purpose of making anyone feel guilty or to make myself the proverbal victim. It is for the purpose of making people aware that a problem does still exist and to let them know avoidance of the topic will not solve it. Many people in America are under the impression that since we have a black President and a number of wealthy individuals of color, that we have overcome most of the systematic racism of our country’s past. In reality, there have always been people of color who have faired better than the collective, but that doesn’t discount the fact that most have continued to live at the absolute bottom rung of society.
So, I challenge everyone to drop any guilty feelings and talk candidly about the past and current racial problems of our society, so that we can seek solutions that will allow everyone to move forward.