I’m still blown away by how some folks are shocked to hear President Obama reveal that he racially profiled in his younger days. He’s a Black man, isn’t he?? I’m a grown man and I’m STILL profiled. Even had guns drawn on me, more than once. I’ll discuss the incidents some other time…
Watching and reading President Obama’s second pass at making remarks after the Trayvon Martin murder trial verdict makes me feel torn between two thoughts.
On the one hand, it’s pretty badazz for any American President to acknowledge that we don’t live in a post-racial society, and to admonish non-Blacks to consider the daily treatment their darker-skinned Brothers and Sisters receive as a supposedly crime-prone and violent sub-human species.
On the other hand, addressing America’s race problem requires more than a speech and certainly more than this fabled, excessively talked about racial dialogue that we spend more time discussing whether we should have a dialogue than we spend actually having one. Policies will make more changes in America than anyone seems willing to acknowledge.
This is the point when President Obama’s remarks became anti-climatic for me. Talk is cheap. POLICIES carry the weight.
Racial inequality has a social and policy layer. The day a five year-old called me a nigger back when I was about the same age tells me how much value systems passed between generations can shape the social layer, but policies that force equal treatment of races will either force people to acknowledge our common humanity, or will create greater hatred and resentment. I think the former would become a more prevalent outcome, but there will be some backlash caused by the latter.
Think about it — you live in a society where the people who don’t look like you receive inferior educational support, their infant mortality rate is twice yours, their prison sentences for the same crimes are harsher, their unemployment rate — even during non-recession years — are twice that your peeps, and government policies seem to keep a disproportionately higher number of them in poverty. Aside from any solid values taught at home, you’ll almost automatically view these socially and economically disempowered people as inferior.
Add to the mix a lack of visible Black role models, jacked-up media images, low racial self-esteem, and the end product is only bound to remain and become worse.
The most important thing President Obama can do while in office is to establish a comprehensive policy framework to end inequality. The journey will be ugly at times, but the destination may help save America…
song currently stuck in my head: “say a little prayer” – rahsaan roland kirk