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Like any epic staged performance, I felt we really do need a bit of a break here, to reflect on everything so far and to incorporate the points that need a little extra reinforcement. So, here's an intermission, just after the halfway point of our list. During this exploration of race, headed by an observant and willing to challenge herself white woman, Jona Olsson, we need to keep some things in mind.

The problem with the beliefs of the average disinterested white person on why they refuse to pay attention to racism is that they hold a world view which doesn't incorporate the actual facts of what is happening - things that they cannot see, hear or know about are constantly happening and since they aren't aware, those things don't factor in to how they view the situation. Just as importantly: our examination of the issues that we have been going through, here. It comes back to a large group of people who apparently are unwilling to consider that what they believe about race in America might not be all that there is and not knowing that the excuses they so frequently offer are a contributing factor in the process. It's a situation similar to the young Siddartha living within the walls of his castle home, completely unaware of what is beyond. From that perspective, everything is lovely. But that's only because the rest remains hidden.

Typically when we attempt to have a discussion about racism, it never actually happens. It gets sidetracked or dissolves into ad hominem attacks on either side, or we deal with any number of the excuses that Ms. Olsson has listed in her essay. Let's state the fact that just talking about racism is "uncomfortable." It's a chore. It's tedious at best and a disgusting mess at worst. It's thankless for white people to do because the immediate assumption is they will be ridiculed and criticized - and they probably haven't actively done anything "bad" to anyone, so there is resentment in the perception of needing to "defend" their race. And they probably are feeling like they aren't as successful as they wish to be (less successful than some of the top successful black people) so they maybe feel a little angry or possibly even confused about that as well. And this isn't their problem. It's the disease that no one in their family has. They have their own issues. Why throw any attention at this?

It's so much easier for white people (and particular minorities who have had success and who want to avoid rocking this boat) to simply say something like: THOSE black people don't share the same values. It becomes a "morality" issue. Or point out the success stories of black people who did better than others. Use examples of minorities who achieved. Point at that, tell them to improve their values and behavior, wipe your hands and walk away.

All of that misses the point. What is the point?

The point we have to always keep in mind is that racism is an oppressive SYSTEM, that it creates or contributes a vast amount to the bulk of the issues that critics continually suggest are the problems that black people need to overcome, and that it is, for the most part, arbitrary, meaning some black people suffer more racism than others for no valid reason. (Ultimately, anyone who suffers racism is getting treated that way for no valid reason.)

Until we get rid of this mindset and this system that favors white people to the detriment of black people and other minorities so that everyone has a fair chance to live their lives in this country, (and we must do that if we care about freedom, justice and what's right) we will never completely shake this unease that exists among all our fellow citizens. We have to fix this now, as we see how the country as a whole is becoming a target for the derision of terrorist groups that want to harm most everyone here. If we cannot stand together, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, we will surely fall separately.

But here's the other element that white people don't seem to understand. If racism goes away, then black people won't need to be on government subsidies nearly as much. When black people become more successful, the economy will grow. Black businesses start booming, more employment starts happening. Less crime means less fear, less need for guns, and less violent clashes with police. All of this is possible when racism ends. So, many of the complaints of tax issues and programs to benefit minorities will be less needed, which is, we're told, one of the more vocal complaints coming from the white community. (We could also discuss how the wealthy have chosen to send their money to Panama or the Cayman Islands or any number of shelter locations so that they don't pay their share of taxes which would relieve the burden of charging more to middle and lower class citizens, but that would take more than an intermission to cover.)

We're all just human beings here, living our finite time on this planet, trying to do the best we can with what we are given. The problem is when racism is given to you, that goes beyond "life is not fair," and really creates a circumstance where everyone suffers needlessly, not just black people.

I hope you grabbed a cold drink and a snack. The break has concluded.


Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

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