Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Interracial Dialogue

I had an interesting conversation with a black man the other day. We were talking about the difficulties and challanges facing the black community in Racine and what could be done about things. It was an interesting conversation and I hope we will meet again.

I began to think about interracial dialogue. Most formal efforts to promote interracial dialogue tend to follow a script that goes something like this: The problems in the black community (income discrepencies, violence, unemployment, underperformance in school etc...) are caused primarily by white racism. The reason for the dialogue is to educate white people such that they understand their role in the problems facing black people. Successful dialogue will result in white people acknowledging their inner racist and resolving to overcome it so that racism and racist structures will be eliminated. At which time the problems in the black community will simply fade away.

I reject this analysis of the problems facing the black community. But by no means do I reject the importance of interracial dialogue. I would love to meet with any black people concerned about the issues facing the black community, so long as I am not required to follow the script.


gopfolk said...

I highly recommend any of John McWhorter’s books. He is a linguist by schooling and trade but has written a number of books on the subject of race: Losing the Race; Authentically Black; Winning the Race

I’ve read Losing the Race and currently in the middle of Authentically Black and McWhorter holds nothing back. He takes the hard approach to the issue and talks quite a bit about white guilt and how blacks love to prey on this weakness.

There are issues, I will concede, but compared to what the races faced in the 50’s and 60’s there is virtually none.

Conscious Thought said...

What really is the underlying issue is white privilege, racism and a host of other issues as byproducts of white privilege. But as i've said before, racism will exist as long as their are humans on earth and i think Denis' perceptions of the dialogue "script" is just that, a perception and not reality. Do people wallow in misery?, Sure they do, but wallowing in misery isn't specific to an individual race as Denis may think. Their are millions of people of color who have overcome the byproducts of white privilege but it is an ongoing, lifelong effort.

One of my issues is that these problems that plague the black community, also plague, white, hispanic and asian communities as well. Drugs, guns, and violence are not isolated to black people. Some of the most toughest and feared thugs in the country, wear suits, belong to country clubs, live in gated communities and listen to Frank Sinatra.

We only seem to isolate and sensationalize, if you will, the problems that are perceived as being "black-only". The problems black people face are the same everyone else faces in every other community. These need to be addressed by all of us and once we realize these issues aren't "ours" or "yours", we'll be moving in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

what is the importance of interracial dialogue to begin with?

Also, Denis, you won't follow their script, do you hope they follow yours instead?

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks Gop, I will probably take a look at one of those books when I get a chance.

CTW, I agree that wallowing in misery is a malady not specific to the black race by any means. It is a huge problem for all kinds of people. That said, it is naive to pretend as though some problems are not more pronounced among some people and less among others. It would be silly to pretend otherwise. Violence with guns appears to be a far greater problem in the largely black communities in Racine than it is in Wind Point. On the other hand, anorexia is probably a larger problem in Wind Point. We should not pretend that violence is equally problematic in white communities. The only reason to do so would be to protect the egos or identities of people who prefer to deny reality.

And anon, interracial dialogue is important, especially if prominent people believe one race is causing the misery of another. The dialogue should seek to explore that assertion. As such, it makes no sense to follow any script, thiers or mine.

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