It’s Time To Talk With Each Other About Race
I’ve been thinking about writing an article on race for a while now. At first, I planned to title it, Is America Really All That Racist? I’d base it on my observation of the interaction of black and white people in my community. I decided that I couldn’t make that judgment because I’m not black. Recently a writer on Medium corrected me when I used the word blacks. He told me it was black people. I’ll try not to make that mistake again. In my opinion, a lot of misunderstandings could be avoided if we talked to each other. Here’s one good example of what I mean:
Before I retired, I worked as a resource specialist in an elementary school. I taught learning disabled students. Once a month, we had an in-service meeting at the district office. On this particular occasion, the assistant superintendent gave a presentation. During her talk, she made the statement that black children couldn’t make certain sounds when speaking. There was a black speech pathologist at the meeting. As you can imagine, the horse feathers hit the fan. The black speech pathologist went to a higher-up and said that the assistant superintendent was racist. She demanded that she make an apology.
At the next district meeting, the assistant superintendent came in and began a 45-minute hostile back-handed apology, during which she said she had read in a magazine that black children couldn’t make some sounds when speaking. She was POed about being called a racist. After she left the room in a huff. One person asked, “Did I miss something?” Not everyone had been at the previous meeting.
How hard feelings could have been avoided
I ran this scenario past my oldest son, who is a school superintendent for a school district in California. He said rather than calling the assistant superintendent a racist, the speech pathologist should have simply gone to her and explained that she was wrong. Since she didn’t do that, the assistant superintendent should have given a genuine apology and explained the reason for her thinking.
This is a good example of how hard feelings could have been avoided with a little communication.
Are white people ignorant?
About five years ago, I saw the comedian Chris Rock on a talk show. He said he didn’t know if white people were just ignorant about these issues. I can answer that question:
Yes! We are ignorant.
One of the articles I wrote titled, Is Little Black Sambo Racist, is about how I and some others didn’t understand why black people wanted Sambo’s restaurant closed down during the 1970s. It was during my research that I learned why. You would have thought the article was made of kryptonite. Only six people read that article at a reading ratio of 17%.
Communicate with everyone
I often hear people referring to Asians as oriental. I knew that it was considered an insult in the culture. One day, I asked my son-in-law, who is from Thailand, why it’s an insult. He said because it’s a label given to objects, not people. One time while having lunch with a friend she referred to someone as oriental. I don’t like to correct anyone’s speech. I consider it rude. Since she was a friend, I felt I needed to tell her. I did, and she thanked me for letting her know that. “That’s good to know,” she replied.
My suggestion to everyone is to communicate. Do it before you call someone racist. So many misunderstandings could be avoided if we communicated. When you’re out in public, waiting for your car to get washed, in the store, or anywhere, strike up a conversation with someone from another culture. You might make a new friend.