Institutional racism, racial profiling, classism, gender and sexual orientation discrimination, colorism– these are all constructed, yet irrefutable and substantive social issues that continue to follow us, from one generation to the next, with no apparent resolution or end in sight.
And the thing is, not many people are willing to really talk about them. And when I say talk, I mean talk as in shedding the politically correct outer layers of speech and getting down to an authentic, earnest, and most definitely an uncomfortable dialogue.
Like the issue of racial profiling. Contrary to popular belief, Black folks aren’t pulled over (and subsequently jailed) more frequently because they happen to be more prone to criminal behavior! The reality is they’re pulled over much more frequently because a large percentage of police officers associate Black folks, particularly Black men, with dangerous or aggressive behavior.
Now, racial profiling is something that communities of color have been forced to endure for far too many years for me to count. Being targeted, followed, harassed, beaten… Killed. But when the concern is raised, the response of, “you are playing the race card” always seems to follow. Consequently, issues that have race at their core, get ignored, passed over…Neglected.
The crazy thing is there have been dozens of national polls taken in America over the past two decades that consistently show more than three-quarters of White Americans don’t believe we have a problem with racial tension in America. Fewer and fewer White Americans will admit that they have any racial biases, these polls have shown for years.
Now, I consider myself an optimist and a realist. But we simply do not live in a “color–blind” society, no matter how much we may wish otherwise. I know, it sounds and feels good to say that we aspire to be a diverse society, but lets be real, look around, it’s more than obvious that as a society, we most definitely do not conduct ourselves that way.
Institutional racism and inherent racial bias are not liberal concoctions or part of a conservative conspiracy. It’s simply the truth, and the social and political science evidence is assembled all around us if one simply cares to look.
Therefore, it should not be a surprise to see society in the state that it’s in today. This country is headed for a civil war if we aren’t careful. And yes race will be the leading matter of contention because regardless of some of the progress that has been made in terms of race relations, the bottom line is, institutional racism exists in nearly every corner of American society today, from our schools, to the criminal justice system, and in the workplace. And it’s what is driving the tension we are seeing on the streets. The root causes are what we must deal with, not just the symptoms.
We have got to do better, and that begins with shedding the fear of speaking about “race” and the other “isms” and having the courage, the integrity, and the ability to be honest and transparent and have a significant, engaging dialogue about the real issue of institutionalized racism that plagues our society.
I mean, what can it hurt?