I Have a Great Teacher

Who also happens to be my mother. This is what she had to say, today, about the issue of Racism in the U.S.A.

I am delusional if I think I am in possession of all of the facts about what happened in Ferguson. I am delusional if I think I have a complete understanding of what happened and who was at fault. I am delusional if I think either Michael Brown or Darren Wilson was in complete control of the situation that engulfed them. I am delusional if I deny that both men responded to what they feared the other man might do. I am delusional if I think that fear was not based on racial stereotypes each held of the other. I am delusional if I think that only facts were presented to the grand jury and we have an accurate picture of what actually occurred. I am delusional if I think those who presented evidence to the grand jury did not color their testimony to present themselves in the best light possible. I am delusional if I think eyewitness testimony is the same thing as physical evidence. I am delusional if I think the district attorney acted totally without bias and without regard to his ambitions. I am delusional if I think that there is not a real issue that undergirds this specific event that has everything to do with race and politics and justice in this country.
If you are 100% certain you have an accurate perception on any of these statements, you are truly delusional.
I will add one more statement to the list. I am delusional if I think I am completely rid of personal racism. God knows I have worked to free myself from bias, but latent forms of old habits and thought patterns still ambush me when I least expect it. But I will not excuse it when I see it in myself or in others. We have to do better.
Let no one rest in arrogant complacency that they have clear vision about our national racial divide, as it is reflected in Ferguson or any other flashpoint. Race relations in this country are what they are not just because of what happens or does not happen inside black homes and black communities and black churches. White people contribute daily to the racial divide by ignoring the ways they contribute to racial estrangement and by pretending racism does not touch their lives in any real way. If you deny that “white privilege” and “victim mentality” are not both barriers to racial progress, you are active in your contribution to the problem. We develop two different languages with totally different sets of catch phrases and sound bites when we discuss our views about racial tension. It is almost as if we cannot speak or comprehend a common language. We judge people we do not know and often choose the most negative stereotypes to characterize “them.”
If you really want to feel the pulse of race relations in America, read the trolls’ comments that accompany the major editorial posts from either side of the political divide. FaceBook makes that really easy. You will see the vitriol that poisons both sides of the discussion. People write what they really think/feel in the anonymous rivers of sewage that spew out after a polarizing event like what happened in Ferguson.
Admit the problem is real. Do some soul searching. Then see if you can’t find a way to help us become “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”



About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

6 responses to “I Have a Great Teacher

  • Briana

    This is one of the best responses I’ve been yet. I particularly like the first statement–and the acknowledgement that, while we can still hold opinions on what happened in Ferguson, our opinions can never based on complete facts. I have seen–and I know–too many people who have very strong opinions, who have done little more to learn about the situation than read a news article or two.

    I have also seen too many people who are unwilling to talk about the issue and try to at least understand the other side. My Facebook news feed looks in general like this:

    Person 1: Posts statement supporting Ferguson riots.
    Person 2: Comments they think riots are not the solution.
    Person 1: Comments they have no time to waste talking to people who disagree with them and quickly unfriends Person 2

    And a few days ago I was speaking to an acquaintance who was absolutely livid that someone she had unfriended over Ferguson comments had dared to send her a private message suggesting they discuss the matter. Personally, I thought wanting to talk seemed like a more civil and reasonable response than eliminating anyone who disagrees with you from your presence.

    • jubilare

      I agree, civil discussion is a far better response.
      I understand how ragged and weary people are, that they feel threatened, and that the divisive climate that seems only to be growing in the U.S. (and around the world in many places) makes them want to sequester themselves from the opinions of others. …it makes me want to be a hermit. :P

      But the truth is that that kind of blocking is only going to make things worse. If we can’t decide to talk, and talk civilly, and more importantly, actually listen to each other, we aren’t going to get anywhere constructive. Nerves are shot, emotions are high. What we need is reason, and patience. What we need even more, I think, is to realize that to exist in any community is to be surrounded by a variety of voices. One doesn’t have to agree with someone in order to listen, and to treat them with basic respect.

      But here I am preaching to the choir, eh? I am glad you stopped by, and glad my mother’s words struck a chord with you as they did with me. Apart from re-posting this on FB, as well as here, I am keeping out of the online discussion. Face-to face conversation seems far more constructive. Something about seeing another human instead of type brings out better behavior in most people.

      • Briana

        i like the idea of taking on controversial issues in person. Though I have still encountered the “You’re allowed to disagree with me but only if you don’t say so in my presence or do anything to act on your beliefs” statement in face-to-face conversations, it’s less common. And my presence at least brings people to the point where they literally have to say that to me and sound ridiculous and unreasonably, rather than allowing them to hit an “unfriend” button and pretend that I and my annoying opinions don’t exist.

        • jubilare

          Aye. Sometimes there’s nothing that will stop a person from being that kind of extreme. But at least, face-to-face, they have to recognize that they are engaging with a real person. Even though, online, we can be aware that the people at the other end are people, there is still a disconnect, and the ability to “unfriend” and ignore… well, doing such things in the real world is harder, and carries more obvious and immediate consequences.
          I don’t think social media is a bad thing (it’s all I get to see of my nephew most days!), but it can mess with our perception of reality.

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