Thursday, March 19, 2009

Alan Bean Gets It

After reading this, I was trying to figure out whether I could have stated America's racial problem better. I can't!

Thanks to Alan Bean, a Baptist preacher and executive director of Friends of Justice for his courage. You can read the full text of his post here.

"White people don’t talk about racial history. When we do we emphasize the great strides we have made. Our ancestors made some big mistakes, no doubt; but all wounds have now healed, all wrongs have been righted, every valley has been exalted, and all’s well in the world.
Which means that when black people dwell in the past they are just hurting themselves.
When we consider the career trajectory of an Eric Holder or a Barack Obama it is easy to buy into this ahistorical narrative. When a black man can become president or attorney general, how bad can it be, really?

"But when we move to the lower rungs of the social ladder this rosy portrait fades to white. Why are so many people of color mired in poverty? Why are inner city schools so abysmal? Why do so few poor black children have two parents? Why is the unemployment rate among young black males so high, and why must black people speak of the “just-us system”?

"Now we are face-to-face with history. Can we drive a wedge between these ugly facts and the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow?

"Sure we can. Black people, it is argued, fail due to laziness, broken families, drug addiction and ignorance.

"Solutions to these problems, from the dominant white perspective, have nothing to do with the past and everything to do with choices made in this present moment. The power of positive thinking (the real religion of America) is tied to the liberal dogma of inevitable progress. Every day in every way we are getting better.

"Because this is so, the best way to ease racial tensions is to ignore them. The less said the better. Time, that munificent elixor, will heal all wounds. Bad things happen when you remove the bandage and start picking at the scab.

"Such pablum passes for serious discourse in our post-racial America."

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