In a speech marking Black History Month, when the newly appointed Attorney General, Eric Holder was speaking to his office, he said that we are a “nation of cowards” when it comes to addressing the race issue. That’s a pretty provocative statement, but it fails to identify “why” we are a nation of cowards when it comes to a candid discussion of the race issue.
Of course I have a viewpoint.
Two names make my point. They are Rush Limbaugh and Al Sharpton. Both of these men often have candid discussions on the issue of race, but it is so often polarizing to both sides, that simply evoking the name of either man polarizes people on either side of the race issue. The problem is deeper in that there are still “sides” to the race issue. The truth be told, there is more than enough blame to go around on this problem in our country. Vestiges of old “white racism” still exist as well as the more recent (last 30 years) creation of “black racism.”
The only answer is to simply change the dialogue. The level of discourse on the matter must be elevated so that the discussions are in themselves constructive. That happens when we take a proactive approach and we don’t respond with our biases to every race incident that takes place.
Today where are the race initiatives before a radio commentator makes a crude remark about a basketball team of black women? Where are the programs to address racism before a cartoon writer is accused of making the current President out to be a monkey?
I don’t think we’re really cowards. I just think that we haven’t learned how to talk to each other yet. Like any relationship we have in life, if we decide to make the dialogue constructive, we will be amazed at how well we could all get along.