Yesterday I attended a Coming Together Racine meeting/movie/discussion on racism at the Racine Public Library.
Attendees were five activist white liberals and myself. We watched a movie on the Freedom Riders who courageously confronted the segregation in the deep south. While the film was a bit manipulative at times -example, splicing in scenes of white bus passengers merrily singing, juxtaposed with vicious racism - there is no mistaking the horrific violence and racism perpetrated by southern segregationists.
I wondered to myself what relevance that blatant, state sponsored racism of fifty years ago has to claims of racism today. Indeed one participant noted that we don't have such problems today. The problem of course is now subtle and rooted in each of us, according to one participant. That might be the case for liberals I suppose but I am not accepting the guilt. It just leads to more problems, like electing an unqualified man as President of the United States, among others.
Over the course of the discussion I made a few points. I wish now I had tied my comments into the consequences of white guilt but I did not. However, I noted that the tendency to expect lower outcomes or worse behavior from blacks is not in the end very helpful to them. Also I noted that the City of Racine, one of Coming Together Racine's sponsors, has thrown up roadblocks (conditional use permit) for businesses which has had the greatest negative impact on minority business owners and or those wishing to serve alcohol to black customers. This revelation seemed to make an impact on the group.
I enjoyed the discussion very much and I will try to attend future meetings. If nothing else, there is no point in ceding the high ground on race to liberals.