“Give me liberty, or give me death!”” – Patrick Henry
The world is a mess. It’s always been a mess though. It’s just that we have so many ways to view the mess that we can see how messy it is and was. Of course that’s just my view and where I’ve come to see things. You might have known it was a mess all of your life.
Let’s just pick one big ol mess we’re dealing with right now here in one little corner of the world. Racism. What is racism? Are you a racist? Am I a racist? Do you or I react to the world in racist ways that we are unaware of? How do you define racism? How did you or I learn to be racist?
You see so many people pointing fingers at racism. You also see so many people crying foul. “I am not a racists! I am the least racist person.”
What is racism? How do we have a conversation about racism if we can’t even agree on what racism is. You see racism point out on a daily basis in people’s words and actions yet those same people will flatly deny racism. I believe the many people only see racism as someone who wants to kill someone of another race or someone who wears a swastika. It seems like we all seem to think in extreme terms and conveniently that allows us to keep swinging but never actually hitting the target. We don’t get anywhere because we’re all still arguing about what racism actually is.
At least it seems that way to me.
I feel like we need a national conversation on what racism is. How do we define racism in all its many and subtle ways along with the obvious extreme ways? If our actual goal is to live peacefully and hopefully together we have to start on a strong foundation.
Why would we want to do this? Shouldn’t we just kill Nazi’s? (I see that one a lot) Yes there are people beyond reason. I am not saying a conversation about defining racism is the cure. I do think it’s one of many paths.
Most people who behave in racist ways that I’ve met are just echoing what they were taught in their families and in their culture. I would imagine that goes for people all over the world. Experience shapes belief. How do you change a mind or heart like that? I think the only way you accomplish this is through providing some sort of dignity. Without dignity in a conversation this emotional I don’t see anyone changing their minds except through extreme action. (And by extreme action I mean war, a personal loss, etc)
To define this in an open national conversation could provide a sense of dignity that might allow some people to see that just because they were looking at these in the wrong way doesn’t mean you can’t change and help make them right. You don’t have to double down anymore and dig that pit of despair even deeper.
So “give me dignity or give me death!” This spin on the Patrick Henry quote is the subconscious battle cry beneath every Trump rally. In a lot of ways it’s really the battle cry of most of humanity.
So how do we do this? I don’t know. I’m open to suggestion. Why not start here?
How do you define racism?