I have been doing a lot of thinking about what to write today. The events of 2014 and Ferguson andMichael Brown, Eric Gardner and I can’t breathe, Tamir Rice and the toy gun, and John Crawford and Walmart have pushed many people to question how far has this country really progressed when it comes to race? To many, we’ve come a long way and racism is a non-factor. To others, we’ve barely moved an inch and racism is still the ugly scourge it has always been. It has just found a home hiding under the surface.
So which is it?
For me, I think we’ve come a long way. I think racism still exists, but the opportunities that exist today far, outstrips the opportunities afforded them 50 years ago when MLK gave his, I Have a Dream speech. I think it’s undeniable. So, for me the glass is half full.
However, here’s where the real problem lies. Too many people are working the extreme’s, and it’s causing more division. For many of those that think the glass is half-full and that we’ve come a long way, they use the advancements as a way to excuse or deny racial or biased behavior. Because they are so convinced race is no longer an issue, they refuse to acknowledge even it’s impact in situations like the above, then blame the victim; they should have complied with the police, they were thugs, if they just obeyed the law, etc. Within this group, the acceptance of race as a factor is almost wholeheartedly rejected. On the other side, for those who believe the glass is half-empty, all they see is race. Every situation is race related, there are no other circumstances, and everyone is a victim of racist people, police, corporations and more. Within this grip, the acceptance of race as a factor is almost wholeheartedly accepted, placing no blame on the perpetrators.
This is the problem with race today. Race is still a problem AND race is not a problem, and until we as a society can embrace these paradoxical truths, we may languish in our journey to achieve MLK’s dream.
So my thoughts for this years MLK holiday are this, spend less time defending your position and more time evaluating other people’s experience with race. Look to expand your view of race in this country. If you think the glass is half-empty, you’re wrong. There have never been the expanse of opportunities for minorities (black, gay, women, etc) than there have ever been. This country is the freest it has ever been; opportunity abounds. If you think the glass is half-empty, you’re wrong. Racism still plays a nasty role in the lives of millions of people here. The road to success is still more challenging for many, as they have to overcome prejudice, and bias that says they don’t belong. Prejudice, racism and bias still exist.
The fact is, both sides must accept they’re wrong and embrace the fact that the cup is neither half-empty nor half-full, but rather filling up every day and that it is not yet full. Because the truth of the matter is, wether it’s half-full or half-empty it doesn’t matter until the glass is just “full.”
I’ve written a lot on the topic of race,
The key is to avoid defending our own opinion of where this country is in terms of race relations and start absorbing other peoples experiences and beliefs, because that is where racism lives and dies, in people.
Happy Martin Luther King Day!