Questions about Race in a Post-Racial Era
In my dream, US Attorney General Eric Holder and I were chatting on my sun porch, when suddenly one of us slapped the other with the word “coward” in the face. I don’t remember which one said it first, and I hardly think that matters in the great scheme of things. Well, one thing led to another and soon our chat had escalated into a fisticuff of ideologies.
I’m not much of a physical fighter given my short stature, but I jabbed him in the psyche with a question about this post-racial area in which we are supposedly living. He deflected my punch with one of his own about collective white guilt. Ow, that hurt!
My cats, who had been dozing on the porch, escaped to the upstairs, which alarmed my wife. She called the police, and by the time they arrived, Holder and I were breaking pieces of wicker furniture over each other’s heads as we jawboned each other about the urban culture that glorifies bling and violence that so many young African,American males worship. The police wanted to haul us both off for disorderly conduct, but I stopped them by telling them, “We’re just having a frank, open and honest discussion about race, officers.”
So the question remains, can Americans have this wonderful honest communication about race without being insulting, violent, or worry about endangering our careers? I’ve considered this question for a few minutes, or at least the time it took me to write the sentences between here and the first paragraph, and I can honestly answer it this way: I don’t know.
First of all, what constitutes an honest discussion about race? Is cursing involved/allowed/encouraged/discouraged? Can participants cite scientific data to support their arguments? Will biblical references be allowed?
Who can participate? Leaders or thinkers, blue collar workers or college graduates, captains of industry or unionized laborers, or members of the Klan and/or the Nation of Islam? More importantly, will the Fox News Network try to make a reality series out of this discussion? If Fox does step in, then count me out.
Will the language have to be restrained, or no holds barred? You know what I mean, racially sensitive words that start with an “n”. Can anyone use this word in the course of debate, in the interest of furthering this national dialogue on race relations without fear of personal or professional reprisal? If so, I want this waiver in writing AND signed by Rev. Al Sharpton. Otherwise, I will suspect a trap. All this will have to be decided before this talk actually takes place.
We may very well be too timid - coward is a very strong word - to approach this subject. On the other hand, it may not have anything at all to do with avoiding a dialogue about race. It could very well be that each one of us Americans is too busy trying to survive this recession to think about the bigger picture. By Americans, I am referring to all the people: white, African, Hispanic, Asian, and any other American citizens.
I remember arguing this point, rather eloquently I thought, with a right upper-cut, in the nocturnal imaginings of my chat with Mr. Holder. Then he sucker punched me with an argument about affirmative action. Ow, that hurt!
This debate about race will continue another day...