Monday, February 23, 2009

Excuse Me, We Need To Talk

Have you ever been in a situation where the air of controversy was so thick and odorous that it threatened to choke the life out of you, yet someone else close to the situation seemed to be totally impervious and unaware? You’ve tried to ignore it, wishfully thinking that things would change or eventually the situation would resolve itself, but instead of getting better things got worse. The warning signs were misinterpreted. The hints were not picked up. The subtle suggestions went unnoticed.

In such cases, there comes a time that, in order to prevent the situation from becoming irrevocable or disastrous, the pain of blunt, direct, straight-talk must be endured.

This flawed system of advantage for some and disadvantage for others will continue to grow more toxic if we do not acknowledge its existence. The process of change most surely will be painful, but one thing is absolutely certain – we can not afford to not have intelligent, honest, thoughtful, rational and ongoing dialog on the subject of racism.

Then again, will it really make any difference ... especially if no one's listening?

This video is from MSNBCs Hardball, broadcast Feb. 19, 2009.

Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
Matthew 13:16,17


jjbrock said...

Rev, Rev What's going on! White people will never take responsibility for anything,.. they broke the country, and they blame it on everything but their own greed.

Some white people love to start with now and for get about the years of inequality that segregation breed, caused much of the despair and crime.

Some also don't acknowledge when the poor white are subjected to the same deprivations they do the exact same things that happen in the black community, of making babies, crime, drugs and everything else.

Eric Holder, shook the core of their ignorance and they don't know how to deal with truth. we've never seen them deal with truth.

underOvr (aka The U) said...


I believe what the Attorney General said last Wednesday was an accurate assessment of the subject of race in America. He's right that there is no dialog. I believe it is because that subject makes people uncomfortable.

I believe there is a segment of our society that believes we (African Americans) need to be quiet. After all we have the right to vote, we can enter the front of any restaurant or hotel and attend the same institutions of higher learning as Whites. Why should we want anything more? We'll not get anywhere until we climb the mountain of dialog.


msladydeborah said...


I think that the conversation on race occurs daily. Only many of the participants are not getting their fifteen minutes of fame for having the discussion. It happens at work, at home, in schools and on the streets.

One of the things that we as people of color really don't know much about is white guilt. Many white people are uncomfortable with discussing race because of that factor. We know a whole lot about white priviledge. Which is definitely a stance that can and should be challenged.

But in the conversation about race-the sword of truth cuts both ways. We will also have to discuss our racism as well. That would include our black on black tendencies. That's when the conversation moves over to the murky side, IMHO.

Pat brought up the problems that we know exist. But there was never any of the other causes raised by either party in the heated debate.

In order for us to have that conversation we are going to have to be a lot more thick skinned on the subject of our problems. Whenever anyone raises up the reality of many black people's lives-there is this tendency to get riled.

This notion that we are in post racial America is not realistic. As I see it, we are possibly in the infant stages of post racial America. But I do not believe that we will ever live in a nation that is totally racism free. There is always going to be a portion of our society that continues to forward those beliefs to be correct.

Regina said...

I agree with MsLadyDeborah racism does go both ways. But that is for another post!
The talk about racism in our country is like Chinese water torture, small drops hitting society bit by bit. One day all of those drops will break ground hopefully resulting in open dialogue on both sides.

Mista Jaycee said...

Double R,
Just hang on. You will be able to write a book from all the sermons you will be inspired to write.
Go Lakers!

Revvy Rev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revvy Rev said...

MsLadyD and Regina,

My take is that:

There is a great difference in bias or prejudice and racism. They are not the same. Yes, we all have biases or prejudices but racism is properly defined as a system of control to protect advantages while simultaneously keeping others disadvantaged. This is based upon color and is primarily systemic or institutional, not personally although the effect occurs because of the actions of many persons.

It is hard for me to see how any people of color can be racist since they do not have control of the social, cultural, or economic resources and decision making positions (or advantages for that matter) to keep operating to their own advantage and to the disadvantage of others.

Similarly in the case of sexism. Women can and do have gender-based prejudices, but only men systematically benefit from sexism and thus are sexist whereas it is practically impossible for a woman to be sexist since she does not.

Anonymous said...

Revvy Rev,
I was so glad to see you highlight this Hardball debate. I watched it that night and was so struck by the anger and frustration in Pat Buchanan's words.

MsLadyDeborah is absolutely right that one of the difficult aspects of open racial discussion is the willingness or unwillingness of blacks to take responsibility for our problems. Problems that may have their roots in our history of oppression but no doubt have their solution only in our own actions.

As for your definition of racism, many years ago I saw a talk show guest define racism mathematically and it stuck with me. (R)acism = (P)rejudice + (P)ower. Therefore you are correct. A black man cannot be racist because he does not have the power to subjugate the person against whom he is prejudiced.

Finally, Attorney General Holder made the same mistake that Obama made when he said folks in Pennsylvania cling to guns and religion. By using an unfortunate phrase, "nation of cowards", Holder obscured his very accurate assessment in the same way that Obama's very accurate assessment of how the Republican party plays to the baser needs of white voters was obscured by his choice of words. There is also the question of whether Holder should have left this topic to the President to handle. Should the Attorney General exercise a bully pulpit on matters of social discord as opposed to strictly legal issues?

MilesPerHour said...

Some will listen, some will choose not to do so. This is not an excuse for us to put our heads in the sand. The more people that talk about it, the louder the noise. The louder the noise, the more difficult it is to ignore. I'm gonna make noise.

Prof. PC said...

you hit the nail on the head with this one.

Kim said...

some whites really have their head in the sand about racism... they know it exist....but it's so ugly they don't want to acknowledge it and they don't want blacks to acknowledge it eithe because they don't want to face their uncomfortableness.. They want to say Holder's comments were too harsh but yet say the cartoon monkey in the NY Post was harmless. I'm glad Holder said what he said and I hope he keeps saying it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rev.

Seems like we as a nation were almost on the verge of some straight talk right after the '60s or so. I still remember some of that sentiment lingering tenuosly into the early 80s when I was in college and the "let's talk about race" thing was still a pretty hot topic. But it wasn't long after that when the subject faded altogether and poor black women were suddenly welfare queens and young black men were now violent thugs and drug dealers. Naturally the tough on crime thing came right around then courtesy of the Republicans.

Now we've got Obama and the one worry is will white folks think that this is a real-life Cosby episode, meaning all is now well amongst the races and any and all blacks who aren't successful have only themselves to blame.

We do need to talk, but then how mny other things that this country nees to do has it ignored..?

SjP said...

"racism is properly defined as a system of control to protect advantages while simultaneously keeping others disadvantaged."

Amen to that!!! It always sends me into an uproar when I'm told that Black folks can be or are racist, too. It an impossibility. Tell me that I might be prejudice. Tell me that I might be biased. But, you can't turn the word on its heels and call me racist - because that is impossible.

Holder was correct. We are a nation of cowards when it comes to race. Its evident. That's the reason why when racism is called out - its dimissed as as "you shouldn't be so sensitive" or "there was no racist intent" or "it was only a joke". Then you get folks like Buchanan who get it but won't admit it because to admit it acknowledges that they must accept their role in it.

It just really makes me angry. But, the reality is is that there is much more to come. said...

Hi RevvyRev,

I agree that there has to be discussion but very often, people are not willing to air differing viewpoints. They are intimidated by differing views. I see this at my own blog forum.

Many people are taught that airing differing viewpoints creates "conflict". They are mistaught.

As you know, I have written about my experiences having one black father and one white father (who is not my biological dad but who has been a father figure since my teen years). My two dads do NOT have the same views on race at all and I don't expect that they would.

My white dad has been among whites all of his life and he only has been exposed to white viewpoints. I was (I'm sure) his first black friend - and certainly his daughter's first black friend.

What I have experienced in my times of listening to his understanding of whiteness in America is that his view is NOT is simply the view that reflects his own life. He hasn't had to be culturally astute in America. He hasn't had to care what other races thought or believed - he was part of the race that was in power. Many whites remain ignorant about race because there were no consequences for them for being ignorant and they suffered no tangible losses in the societal landscape.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Believer said...

I'm still scratching my head about "Let's Talk About Race" and statistics of the black community being brought up in conversation.

Let's stop all the finger pointing from both sides and embrace the hope of moving forward and rising above the mess.

This generation should be focused, forge together, and find solutions.