Monday, August 3, 2009

The Long Overdue Conversation On Race.

One thing about the recent Gates-gate that really irks me is when media types always try to look for the silver lining in an ugly situation by suggesting that this painful incident might just be the impetus for the "long overdue conversation on race". Seriously, turn on your Sunday News show this weekend, and make a drinking game out of how many times you hear that phrase. Just don't go to church afterwards.

The obvious problem with this assertion is that there's no such thing as a "national conversation". The cable talking heads who spout this nonsense usually bring in the same array of warmed over, milquetoast Negro pundits to try and explain how typical black folks feel about race, only to have the White pundits on the other side typically accuse black folks of overreacting and being too darn paranoid. By the time the 8 minute segment is over, no new ground has been broken, everyone gets their parking validated, and any "conversation" that might be had is long forgotten before the ending credits run.

Call me crazy, but if we'd already had at least one "long overdue conversation on race" for all the times that cliche has been used, we'd be better off by now. But after Clinton' racial forgiveness tour, Rodney King, the OJ Trial, Imus, Katrina, Rebb'n Wright, KKKramer, and The Jena Six, has anything gotten better? I don't really think so.

The problem is obvious: changes happen when folks interact on a one to one basis, not watching other folks talk in isolation. A professor once told me that if you as a person are serious about trying to challenge stereotypes, you should make yourself more available. This means engaging that person sitting next to you on the plane, rather than copping the headphones. It means talking to your neighbor about something other than lawnmower maintenance. It means joining your co-worker in the breakroom, rather than eating at your desk. Yeah, I just ratted myself out.

Seriously, how else do those walls come down unless we take it upon ourselves? If it was as simple as the gubb'ment or the media doing it, it would already be done. Obviously that isn't the case.

So, I wanna use this post as an open forum to discuss, and challenge stereotypes. This is an invitation to list your general gripes with the way race is handled in America. It's your free pass to ask questions of those of other races in a safe arena. I especially invite the hundreds of anonymous lurkers who peek in, but never comment. I simply ask that everyone keep it respectable.

Question: Got any burning questions you want to ask folks of other races? Any stereotypes you wanna clear up?

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