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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Truth Is...

I'm not unsympathetic to arguments like this one. Indeed, the very fact that a phrase like "Cosby conversation" (where a black man speaks the truth about the harm black America does to itself, that a white person isn't allowed to say) exists shows that many have justly tired of the race grievance industry.

BUT...I happened to see that one David McCallum was exonerated of murder, after 29 years in prison. I hoped before I clicked that he was white. It happens sometimes, right? But no. Frankly, in that moment, it was not hard to imagine what much of black America was thinking: "Great. One guy. What about all the others? And the ones who died before justice was served?" I believe in the greatness of what America stands for; I believe it's the best to live and die on the Earth. I don't believe in that ideal enough to not look frankly at where things actually stand, as opposed to where we want them to be.

I believe in structural racism and white privilege. There are mountains of proof, for one thing. NBC (or one of the news organizations) runs an experiment. They have 3 white teenage boys deface a car. Most people walk by bemused; some talk to them, saying, "Just don't do it to my car; I can't afford it!" Three calls to police. One guy got angry about the immorality, and nearly came to blows with the kids. But generally, "not my problem." You know where this will go. NBC's got its black actors ready to go. They're going to run the same experiment. Before they begin, they receive 2 calls to police about the black actors sleeping in their own car. And how many calls to police did they receive? More than thirty. And no one was laughing this time. This wasn't south Alabama, by the way; it was outside Boston.

And simply to say it doesn't mean that some disgruntled Black Studies major with a major axe to grind isn't a whining ninny. There are plenty of people with no one to blame but themselves. Still, we need to begin with a frank recognition that Dr. King didn't wave a magic wand at the March on Washington.

Realizing that "Driving While Black" (for example) is a thing, and that I will never experience it doesn't mean that I hate myself, or all others like me. It means rather that justice is not zero-sum; I don't have to lose for my brother to win. But I may have benefited from lots of "winning" that never should have happened.

Just some thoughts.

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