I have read a lot of books about race, written by honest people earnestly trying to understand and to explain the racial tensions in America and the world. Ever since I wrote one, people have frequently recommended others to me. Until now I have read a lot of them. But I have hit the wall on them. They are becoming more alike.
The most recent two or three have used the method of redefining a common term and then building their whole book on their redefinition. I blogged about that a few weeks ago. I really don’t like that method of argument. It seems unfair.
I don’t like the “all people are racist” approach either. Maybe we are, but it is to strikingly different degrees. And to argue that we are all alike, bringing the white supremacist into the camp with the modern progressive, just muddies the issues.
But here is why I am writing about it today. In one of my more recent conversations on the topic I had an epiphany that I want to share with you. Maybe you have known this for a long time, but realizing it answered a lot of questions for me. The root of all racism is fear.
Black people are understandably afraid of White people, especially cops. White people have long been afraid of Black people, hence the chains and the brutal treatment. White people are afraid of immigrants and refugees. That fear drives us not to want to mix. We didn’t want “our” kids going to school with “those kids.” The Black families are afraid of how their children will be treated and the White families are afraid of the Black culture. “Those” people will take “our” jobs. The beat goes on.
If we are going to solve the race issues, brother and sister, we must get past the fear. And the only cure for fear is knowledge. If you are afraid of roller coasters or Ferris wheels, you are going to have to ride some roller coasters and Ferris wheels to get over it. If you are afraid of airplanes, you will have to get in an airplane to find the cure.
If you are afraid of a Black neighborhood, you must spend some time in one to get past it. And if you have a deep-seated fear of people of a different color, you need to spend some time with a few. We must become friends. Not passing acquaintances, real friends. You have to spend enough time with someone of a different race that you become comfortable enough to discuss your fears and for them to tell you about theirs. It will be hard work.