~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

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    In response to Beach-Spider's comment:

     

     

    Rules for Racism How to think and talk constructively about 'Race and Racism'.

    By William Saletan | July 22, 2013

      Headshots of neighborhood watch volunteer George  Zimmerman (R) who has been charged with second-degree murder of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

    George Zimmerman (left) and Trayvon Martin

    Photo by Reuters

     

    In the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, politicians are calling again for a national conversation on race. Previous attempts at this conversation have often broken down. Let’s learn from our mistakes. With the help of my colleagues, here are some suggestions for thinking and talking about race and racism. I’m white, and so are the vast majority of my colleagues, so most of this advice is written from and to a white perspective. (For a black perspective, I recommend the Root’s excellent Race Manners column, written by Jenée Desmond-Harris.) But I hope everyone will find something useful in it.

    1. Don’t freak out. When somebody accuses you of racism, it’s natural to get angry and deny it. Relax. We’ll never be able to talk about this stuff if racism is always a firing offense. Treat racism the way you’d treat sexism. You can have sexist moments or sexist blinders without being a pig. Inadvertent sexism is something you’re allowed to work on. Racism should be the same. The way you’re talking about that “nice African-American gentleman”? Yeah, that’s a little bit racist. Don’t get defensive. Just understand why and try to do better next time.

    2. Treat each person as an individual. Don’t tie yourself in knots trying to be politically correct. There’s no special way you’re supposed to treat this or that group. Just remember what Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned 50 years ago: a nation in which people would be judged not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” That’s the ultimate principle. Resist inferences based on classification. Judge each person on his or her merits.

    3. Practice what you preach. Nobody likes to be accused of racism. The best way to open hearts, eyes, and minds is to apply the same scrutiny to everyone, including yourself. If you want people to see racial bias in George Zimmerman’s reference to “punks,” don’t rationalize Trayvon Martin’s use of “cracker.” No, these terms aren’t equivalent. Yes, Zimmerman is the one who pulled the trigger. Yes, white-on-black racism dwarfs black-on-white racism. But if your goal is to persuade, get past the differences. Focus on shared failings, shared lessons, and shared rules.

    4. Don’t pretend you’re perfect. If you’re racially colorblind, great. But it’s more likely that you’re human like the rest of us. Studies have documented pervasive, unconscious racial bias even among people with pure hearts. That’s understandable, given our history and the common tendency toward intergroup bias. To overcome this bias, you have to notice it. You don’t have to think about it all the time—that would make your interactions weird. But every now and then, reflect on things you’ve done or said. The seat you walked past on the bus, next to that woman. The way you tightened up as you passed that guy on the street. What was that about? Little by little, you’ll clean yourself up.

    5. Be gentle and forgiving. People have been uncomfortable around race for a long time. Some will presume, accuse, rationalize, or deny. Others will speak obtusely or ineptly. Resist the urge to rebuke them. Summon the grace to forgive. Don’t just correct people; change them. You’ll get your message across more effectively through kindness, good humor, and clear but friendly engagement than through confrontation. And by listening, you might learn.

    6. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Did you hear President Obama on Friday? He talked about the Martin case. Here’s a bit of what he said:

    “There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. … There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.”

     

    If, like me, you’ve never had any of those experiences, imagine how they feel. Imagine how you’d react to the story of a young man like you, your brother, or your son being suspected, followed, and killed. How can you comprehend the outcry over Martin’s death without understanding that feeling? You don’t have to shut up about the case. But try to understand where others are coming from.

    7. Separate the issues. The legal case against Zimmerman is related to, but different from, nationwide problems affecting young black men. Everyday personal prejudice is related to, but different from, ways in which our institutions—schools, markets, sentencing laws—exacerbate racial gaps. Black-on-black violence, like white-on-white violence, is a bigger killer than white-on-black profiling, but all three problems are real. It’s a lot easier to discuss these questions intelligently once you distinguish them and stop using one issue to drown out the others.

    8. Race isn’t everything, but race isn’t nothing. Conversations about cases such as this one often get bogged down in a fight between “This is about racism” and “You think everything’s about race.” Let’s drop the caricatures. Consciously or not, race influences many things: Zimmerman’s suspicions, Martin’s reactions, the police response, and the jury’s inferences. But other factors also come into play: vigilantism, concealed firearms, self-defense laws, and 911 protocols. Race isn’t the whole story. But if you leave it out, you’re kidding yourself.

    9. Don’t polarize. The world isn’t black and white. The U.S. population is 17 percent Hispanic/Latino, 13 percent black, 5 percent Asian, 1 percent Native American, and 2 percent biracial. Obama descended from Kansans and Kenyans and grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. Zimmerman has a Peruvian mother, an “Afro-Peruvian” great-grandfather, and an old Myspace account that once disparaged Mexicans. Everything about race and ethnicity—identity, integration, prejudice, conflict—is getting more complicated. Don’t oversimplify the topic or the individuals involved.

    10. “They” don’t all think alike. Don’t speak loosely for or about “white people” or “the black community.” Charles Blow, Charles Ogletree, and Charles Barkley see things differently. So do Cornel West, Allen West, and Kanye West. These differences don’t weaken black America any more than the differences between Joe Biden and Joe the Plumber weaken white America. It’s diversity. Deal with it.

    11. Put things in perspective. Slavery, segregation, cultural dysfunction, and economic stratification are, to put it mildly, a difficult legacy to transcend. It’s easier to say “get over it” when you’re not the one being followed through the store. But don’t forget how far we’ve come, either. Laws and culture have changed. Disparate treatment persists, but it’s less racially motivated and more mediated by class. Forty-three percent of whites voted for our first black president. We have an attorney general who knows what it’s like to be profiled. “Things are getting better,” says Obama. He’s right.

    12. Build trust. You can stand there all day defending drug laws, racial profiling, and a jury with no black members. But if millions of black Americans vehemently disagree, that’s not just their problem. It’s your problem. A healthy society requires broad public confidence in its institutions. When people march in the streets because they don’t trust the criminal justice system or the voting process, their confidence must be earned. These are your countrymen. They need answers, reform, and hope.

    Read William Saletan's latest short takes on the news, via Twitter:

     https://twitter.com/saletan

     




    Don't freak out when some one calls you a racist?  That's the first point?

    How about don't call people racist simply because they have a different opinion than you.

    Might be a better place to start.

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    LOL ....... skeeter how about the other rules .........

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    LOL ....... skeeter how about the other rules .........




    Sorry, can't get past the first one, that white people should freak when they are called racist.

    Talk about building a foundation on sand...

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to jedwardnicky's comment:

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    [QUOTE]

     

    LOL ....... skeeter how about the other rules .........

     



    LOL.... you think Skeeter read past the first point?

     

     

    [/QUOTE]


    You got a point there ..... the library that skeeter was using the computer at closes at 2 P.M. on Saturdays ...

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to jedwardnicky's comment:

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    [QUOTE]

     

    LOL ....... skeeter how about the other rules .........

     



    LOL.... you think Skeeter read past the first point?

     

     

    [/QUOTE]

    No.  I read them all, silly.  I just don't see how a list that starts with the premise that a white person should accept being called racist is any good.  Who cares what point two is?  The string of ppoints stands on the first, and the first is simply nutty.

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    In response to jedwardnicky's comment:

    [QUOTE]

     

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

     

    [QUOTE]

     

     

    LOL ....... skeeter how about the other rules .........

     

     



    LOL.... you think Skeeter read past the first point?

     

     

     

     

    [/QUOTE]


    You got a point there ..... the library that skeeter was using the computer at closes at 2 P.M. on Saturdays ...

     

    [/QUOTE]

    So, you are fine with the first point? 

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    skeeter why would I freak out if somebody calls me a racist ..... it's just a word .....  my behavior towards others is more down to earth, more courteous and more decent than you ever thought of behaving toward others ....... I see how you act everyday by the way you use words and expressions to communicate on BDC ..... it ain't very Christian like .....

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to TFefio's comment:

    I'm sure we can really advance the conversation on racism from a bunch of out-of-touch moon bats on the Internet who want to LOL at anyone with a differing opinion! This post doesn't even deserve a response. I'm back in sociology 101 in 1981. 




    TFefio's ..... boy you really know how to practice what you preach ..... let's advance any conversation on any 'ism" with name calling ..... I think you better take some  remedial classes in Soc 101 .......

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to Beach-Spider's comment:

    Sistersledge: In response to skeeter20's comment:

    LOL ....... skeeter how about the other rules .........

     

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    Sorry, can't get past the first one,

    that white people should freak when they are called racist.

    Talk about building a foundation on sand...



       

    .  . "Can't get past the first one" .  .

         Is there a message there - somewhere?




    The first step toward change is awareness .....

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to jedwardnicky's comment:

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    [QUOTE]

     

    In response to Beach-Spider's comment:

    [QUOTE]

     

     

    Sistersledge: In response to skeeter20's comment:

    LOL ....... skeeter how about the other rules .........

     

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    Sorry, can't get past the first one,

    that white people should freak when they are called racist.

    Talk about building a foundation on sand...



       

    .  . "Can't get past the first one" .  .

         Is there a message there - somewhere?

     

     




    The first step toward change is awareness .....

     

     

     

    [/QUOTE]

    Careful, that first step is a doozy!

     

    [/QUOTE

    I've tripped over that step many times .... but I just get myself up, dust myself off, look for it again and keep on trucking

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to Beach-Spider's comment:

    Sistersledge: In response to skeeter20's comment:

    LOL ....... skeeter how about the other rules .........

     

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    Sorry, can't get past the first one,

    that white people should freak when they are called racist.

    Talk about building a foundation on sand...



       

    .  . "Can't get past the first one" .  .

         Is there a message there - somewhere?




    So "AA" like.

    So, you think the first step in a conversation is not to over-react to being called out as a racist. 

    See, I think the first step might be to listen to what others say, and don't start the conversation by calling them racist.

    But, you race-baiters don't want to cede the point to civility.  All emotion with you guys, all stirringthe pot.  Can't have a discussion on race until you have slandered those you are discussing it with by out of the gates accusing them of being racists.

    Own up.

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    skeeter I really think that you aren't honest or moral enough to post a comment in this particular discussion

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    The posts in this thread are further proof we're all fcuked!

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    To be a racist you must be a bigot but, to be a bigot you are not necessarily a racist.

    There is plenty of intolerance in our world that has nothing to do with skin color or origin.

    The most common form of bigotry today is political bigotry.

     

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to Sistersledge's comment:

    skeeter I really think that you aren't honest or moral enough to post a comment in this particular discussion



    Thank god I don't value your opinion.

     

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to TFefio's comment:

    I'm sure we can really advance the conversation on racism from a bunch of out-of-touch moon bats on the Internet who want to LOL at anyone with a differing opinion! This post doesn't even deserve a response. I'm back in sociology 101 in 1981. 



    More like kindergarten, but whatevs....

     

     

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to tvoter's comment:

    The most common form of bigotry today is political bigotry.

     

    You should really get out more.

     

     
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    Re: ~ How to Think and Talk Constructively about 'RACE and RACISM' ~

    In response to skeeter20's comment:

    But, you race-baiters don't want to cede the point to civility.  All emotion with you guys, all stirringthe pot.  Can't have a discussion on race until you have slandered those you are discussing it with by out of the gates accusing them of being racists.

    Right.  Like you, they might just be uncivil from the get-go...

    ...and stupid.

     

     

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