I am often dumbfounded at the number of persons who live their lives as if mere spectators. They talk about their lives as if they are not active participants but onlookers, as if narrators instead of characters. They share their experiences with race, racism and prejudice as if to say, “Do you see what racism or prejudice just did to me?” There is no attempt at confronting or challenging race, pursuing justice or even ensuring that it never happens to them again (Note: Becoming a racist or practicing prejudice should not be considered as a deterrent.). And though a lively discussion with endless examples may ensue, there is no examination of the act itself. There is only talk and more talk of what race has done to us.
And each time something racially motivated happens whether in our circle of influence or in another part of the country, we tell our story– if only in our heads. We stand with the crowd and look at the injuries instead of seeking out a place to heal them. No one moves to stop it. For all of our experience and thereby expertise, we are no better at handling matters of race. Consequently, the wound remains open and festers with each new instance of “race”- based hatred or discrimination.
We behave as if we are afraid to challenge an issue on the basis of race, as if we live by the whims of race. We use the general racial description of “they” when we know the name of the individual who verbally assaulted us or where the incident of prejudice took place. We can identify it and yet we don’t. We don’t go to the individual instead we say that it was all of “them.” “They” all are the same and if given the chance, “they” would do the same to me as this individual has. We don’t confront the institution and hold them accountable for their actions. Instead, we talk about it on the sidelines or in the stands.
For all of our discussions about race, what resources do we own that would assist in our understanding of race and the eradication of racism? What personal responsibility have we taken to shake its foundation in American society, in our neighborhoods, on our jobs, in our schools, in our churches, in our homes, in us? What books have we read or movies have we watched that would aid in its demise? If race and thereby racism and prejudice are rooted in ignorance, then why won’t we simply get to know each other? If it is the product of hatred whatever its form, then why not practice love? It is simply because we don’t want to get in the game.