What was the most helpful thing you read about Ferguson?
I have tried to stay away from this topic only because I’m not sure I have anything of real value to add, but the folks at BlogHer brought the question up for Day 3 of the September NaBloPoMo.
Before I get started take a minute and look at both of these pictures. Be honest with yourselves; If you saw either of these young men walking towards you (day or night), which one would you perceive as more or less of a threat?
Have you made your decision? If so, humor me and answer the following poll.
Now on to the BlogHer question. Everything I’ve learned confirms that racism is alive and well and people don’t want to talk about it – both black and white, but more so white. The question, why do we have to keep talking about this pervades everyone’s face. But we have to talk about it because we haven’t talked about it. And we really don’t understand the ill effects it has on us in 2014 and has had on us — America — for hundreds of years.
Sadly, we can no longer let this issue — the issue of racism — go unchecked. It’s time we sat down and had meaningful and intelligent conversations about race and race relations. It’s time we get ahead of it instead of trying to do damage control when something like Ferguson happens. And still we get no closer to solving the problem. We seem to get more divisive.
Let’s be real there are a lot of people who don’t want to admit that racism even exists and they claim black people are over reacting. I will agree with that to some extent, but the reality is I hear more often than not the phrase or something similar from white people, “Why can’t black people just get over it”. I see the eye roll from some white people and black people too when the topic of race comes up. Along with, “the not this again look”.
Unfortunately, black people can’t just get over it because being black in America is constantly thrown in our faces and very rarely in a positive light. Being black in America is often associated with negativity. And we, both blacks and whites have bought into that negativity of the black man and woman. If you say you haven’t, you’re not being completely honest with yourself. The entertainment industry doesn’t help to dispel this negativity at all. It actually helps to perpetuate it. Shows like Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne”. Movies that show black men as criminals or being lazy and shiftless or uncouth and uneducated and wife beaters — the list goes on.
The media readily and willingly reports about the black drug dealer or murderer or rapist or prostitute, but how often do you hear about he black man or woman who is doing something good for his/her community? If I never heard any of that or saw any of that I would believe that this negative portrayal of the black community is accurate. But more importantly, if I never sat down and talked to anyone in the black community, I never would have realized the number of positive black influences in the community.
Black men are constantly villianized by society whether they are in a suit or baggy jeans, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap. They are constantly perceived and depicted in the media, far more than their white counterparts as the dregs of society — rapists, robbers, drug dealers, pimps, lazy, shiftless, welfare recipients, uneducated etc. I see and you see on the news and in newsprint on a daily basis the face of the murderous, thieving, rapping, drug dealing black man far more than the face of murderous, thieving, rapping, drug dealing white man; which would lead anyone, including me to perceive the black male as more of a threat than the white male.
Think about it. The next time you sit down to watch the news (local or national) or read the paper who do you see and hear about more? Black criminals or white criminals? I’m not saying that black men are not committing the crimes. I’m saying there is disproportionate coverage of who the perpetrators are that are committing the crimes.
As a black person in America, I honestly try not to see racism in everything; but it’s there. Let’s look at the employment and unemployment rates now. African-Americans are consistently underemployed and unemployed than their white counterparts. According to the August 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics: The unemployment rate for Whites is 5.3%, while African-Americans the unemployment rate is 11.4%.
So, why is there such a disparity? More than double. And please don’t tell me that it’s because of education and skill level. I know several African-American men that have the skill set and the education, but have yet to become gainfully employed.
Race is a hot button topic in America and it has been for hundreds of years. It cuts to the very core of our being. It hurts. It makes us angry. It scares us. But why? Why can’t we sit down and discuss race? This problem was created long ago and we continue to keep it alive by ignoring it and sweeping it under the rug and hoping it will go away, which is a misguided thought process. If we don’t start to talk about it soon there will be more Ferguson’s.
Are you ready and willing to open up the lines of communication about race and racism? If so, I’d love to have it with you.