The below video clip is from an interview I did with NECN alongside Wendy Murphy this morning.
Having discussions on race is so important. Shying away or ignoring the real problems that we face daily do not actually make them go away. As our population shifts and changes, so must the way we think about ourselves and the way we engage others. The idea of a majority population is changing when you think about the growing number of people who check off multi-racial on the census. Did you ever meet someone and wonder “what they are?” or “where are they from?” It’s part curiosity and part need to help us put people in a box (even if you don’t use that internal language, you are doing this). To know someone is from a certain country or from a certain geographic area helps us file them in our mental database which we associate with the characteristics we think we know about that place. It happens so fast we don’t even think about it.
Talking about race and talking about our lens helps us work through stuff that is there. It helps us learn.
In the Paula Dean case, she should own her bad behavior for what it was and call it what it was. It was racist behavior. Does that mean people cannot evolve? No, the beauty of the world is that we have the capacity to evolve. The real question is whether or not we have the will, strength and desire. Where there is smoke, there is fire. That is why we react so strongly. People don’t just accidentally use the “N” word. If you look more closely at other behaviors, patterns emerge. That is, unless we are actively looking at ourselves and making intentional changes.
We are always growing. And now, we have a society that is paying attention. We witness racist behavior that makes our hair stand up, makes us outraged, makes us cry. We also are seeing the responsible supportive active voices saying that we will no longer tolerate this. And we are also using our individual voices to move along that accountability chain. Social media plays a huge role in letting employers and corporations know what we really want. It is in their financial best interest to listen.
Racism is not a growing issue, it has been here. We are just finding new ways to confront it. Our work is not done.
I welcome a thoughtful dialogue around this topic. Feel free to submit comments.