On Race and Walking on Eggshells

4 years ago

On Race and Walking on EggshellsA week or two ago a fellow blogger, Christy, from A Woman The World Deserves, posted the following on her Facebook wall, in regard to Black History Month:

"Year in and year out, February comes. Black History Month. And we learn about MLK and Rosa Parks and how they overcame. But never in our minds or in the minds of American people do we celebrate our history from pre-slavery... As if slavery is the only thing "African American" people come from.. No need to discuss the empires and great wealth and knowledge that was once possessed and that flows through our veins. Mess around and tell folks that they came from GREAT DYNASTIES, they might be empowered to mess around and get out of poverty. Can't have that now can we. Wonder why every so often Hollywood puts out a slave movie.. A reminder of a chapter in history.. But never going before that painful chapter."

 I started to comment.  I thought what she said was very thought-provoking. I wanted to say so. Then I stopped. Then I started. Then I stopped.

I have interacted with Christy before, through the "blogosphere" and I knew she would see my comment as nothing more than, "thank you for making me think outside of my little box."  She's awesome that way.  In fact, when you're done here, you should go read her blog. It absolutely shines with love and positive energy.

My concern wasn't with her. My concern was with "them."  You know… the faceless many on the internet.  Would they think I was being racist?  Condescending? Ignorant?

Was I being those things?

As a white person, I sometimes feel (or maybe I feel like I SHOULD feel) like I have no right to discuss the issues that face people of other races.  But… isn't that feeling, in itself, racist?

You can see the big ol' spaghetti knot that was beginning to form in my brain at this point, right?

I wrote to Christy, privately, and told her how I was feeling and asked her for permission to share all of this, which she graciously granted.  She also offered this wisdom:

"Talking about race in my opinion is soooooooo touchy to a point where no one wants to discuss it. I grew up in the south. Racial tensions flare up down here much more often. Which is so unfortunate. But the main problem I see is... Whites will talk about black people. Blacks will talk about white people. And nobody EVER thinks to come together and have honest dialogue to work out these racial tensions.

One thing I have learned is all prejudice really comes from people just not understanding one another. I think these topics need to be talked about it. There so much we don't understand and no one wants to admit that."

I think she is exactly right.  The various races are all pretty good about talking about each other but we are hesitant to talk with each other.  We either don't care what those different from ourselves think or we so terrified of offending anyone that we walk on eggshells and never speak our minds at all.  But how can we ever, truly, accept the beauty of each others' cultures with all of their similarities and differences to our own, if we are too scared to engage in real conversation for fear of breaking some bizarre social taboo that no one really understands.

So what do you think?

How can we inquire of other cultures' beliefs, customs, concerns and desires in a respectful way, in order to overcome our own ignorance? Or should we just stay out of conversations, like the one above, if we are not part of the group having the discussion? I'd love to hear your thoughts about all of this!

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