Let's have a polite conversation about race. I must admit that the mere act of typing that sentence has brought a slick sweat to my palms. Also, my mind is now racing through all the possible ways what I intend to write in this post could blow up in my face, but I'll continue. Join me?
I never imagined I would someday be compelled to write something like this. In fact, I have been wrestling with writing something on similar topics for a very long while, but I have been a coward. There is seldom the desire (at least from those who need to hear it) to entertain the opinions of a ‘white male’ on topics like this. So, instead of trying to wrestle with a thoughtful opinion piece on race, or sexuality, or orientation, or gender, I cower. Instead of broaching these subjects that are usually dominated by well-meaning liberals one-upping themselves with all the right buzzwords: inclusivity, equality, social justice; I have bitten my tongue. But, no longer. I ask you if you have read this far, to continue and I beg you to consider the perspective I offer without making sweeping judgments or hurling labels and accusations.
The growing racial tensions in America that have been widening since Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, (perhaps earlier) and have been exacerbated since the election of Donald Trump have placed an incredible strain on our culture and society. I wish this to stop.
I'm not going to argue who is and isn't racist. I am wholly uninterested in debating who is or isn't privileged. Pundits on (what once were) news channels may waste countless hours pondering who is most oppressed and what minority America is exploiting worse, but the rest of us rational, proud Americans should try and be more grounded and practical in our political analysis.
America is fundamentally not racist. The vastly diverse multitude of its citizenry is comprised of largely good, wholesome and God-fearing people. This land, even before it was carved away from an all-powerful empire and forged in the fires of war in the face of total destruction, has served as a beacon of hope to the downtrodden of the globe and an ever-present reminder that liberty and prosperity, self-determination and freedom are all worth dying for.
This isn't a distraction from the main assertion: America is not racist. It is a necessary reminder of the absurdity of the idea otherwise. America’s founding principles gave birth to the modern ideas of equality, justice, and unity. The Declaration of Independence, the Bill Of Rights, and the Constitution are all documents outlining exactly what makes America an ideal in the hearts of so many.
America is imperfect. Its people are imperfect. Its leadership (especially in recent times) has been woefully lacking. These things are true of most nations of the world. In America, minorities face many challenges. Incarceration rates, life expectancy, and education levels all bear this out. The question of why, how, and what should be done are monumentally important. Additionally, many in America harbor racist views. This is not limited to white people, but historically, white racism has been the dominant force.
Racist individuals are not an indicator of a racist nation. In modern America, we have a hyper-focus on our racial differences. Our cultures are arguably diverging more now than they have in the last 60 years since Martin Luther King Jr. brought the country together in a way many never thought possible. This should alarm people of all colors and creeds. We are stronger united. The petty insecurities of individual racists should never be the driving factor behind our trust in one another as countrymen.
There is a real push in our mainstream society to make Black American Culture and White American Culture not just distinct and separate, but distinctly at odds with each other. Political racial ploys are dooming cohesive unity between white, black, Hispanic, and other Americans. It is my opinion that proud and thoughtful Americans should no longer allow this to be the case.
Slavery was a wicked institution from which much of our Nation's early prosperity was derived. Most reasonable people recognize this. No matter your race, both slavery and segregation are shameful products of our past. The effects of both have been lasting and are to this day sometimes evident. This, however, is not a weapon to be used to guilt American men and women generations removed from those who perpetrated such evil. Rather, our past should serve as a stark reminder of what cruel and inhumane treatment is intolerable to all decent human beings.
Our past is so much more than a collection of evil deeds committed by slavers, rapists, and misogynists as is the in vogue account from certain sects of our political spectrum. All Americans should be able to take pride in this Nation’s incredible and inspiring past. MLK isn't simply a black icon, he is an American Hero. Same can be said for men and women like Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, JFK, and Thomas Jefferson. There is little doubt that from the first shots of the Revolutionary War to the Storming of Normandy Beach to United Spirit that filled all of our hearts following the tragedy of 9/11, America has had one cause, one purpose: ensure freedom endures wherever it is threatened.
It is a blatant irony that such a nation born with little more than the cry of freedom on its tongue could allow slaves to suffer within its border, but why do we not recognize the pains this land endured to rid itself of that affliction? Today we are reminded with a regularity of our shortcomings, our differences, and our transgressions. As a society, we have a lot we need to correct, but the only way that is accomplished is together as a singular people.
We could attempt to rectify all the ways in which our justice system, for example, fails specific minority groups, but would we not still have a justice system that punishes the poor of all backgrounds more than the rich of all backgrounds? We can attempt to root out the cause of police brutality in black communities, but would that ensure our police officers are doing their best work across the whole of America?
Often times, in my opinion, in our efforts to solve all the problems facing minorities in America we overlook the fact that these problems actually impact ALL Americans. This isn't to say certain Americans aren't more impacted than others, but in many instances, the solutions are not bound by race alone. Our societal shortcomings are collective. Passing the buck by blaming entire races is racism.
There is this incessant need among the political left in this country to be outraged ad nauseum. A burning desire exists to be offended by every opinion that dissents from what elitist intelligentsia proclaims from their mouthpieces in mainstream media outlets. A meritocracy exists that encompasses celebrities, journalists, politicians, and academics and it dictates acceptable thought to (what it views as) unwashed masses while turning a nose up to their fervent resistance.
Donald Trump (and his presidency) is not an indication of a society that has caved to its racist worst-self. It is clearly a rejection of an established power that for too long has treated patriotism as something shameful, cultural pride as something to admonish, and American Spirit as something to snuff out at all costs. Recognizing there are differences between us but being willing to come together as a united citizenry is how we have operated for 240 years. There is no need now to change course. It is not the responsibility of any one American to protect your feelings, insulate you from insult, or compensate for your sensitivities. Rather, it is American to share in the freedom of our land by affording others the right to express themselves, just as you should be afforded the same right if/when you disagree. Race has no bearing on this truth.
I, as a free and proud American man, implore you to patiently understand your fellow Americans. It is so difficult to have the endurance to overcome bigotry and hatred, but short of violence, the power is vested in people who place faith in our system. The phrase 'We The People' that begins the founding document of our land never specifies by creed or color, why do we still so often today?