I was on the Mike Signorile Show on SIRIUS OutQ 109 on Friday to tackle why it's hard to have productive discussions about race, given the environment of denial and defensiveness that has developed around the subject. It's the second of a series of segments Mike and I plan to have about this (the first segment is here).
Use the player below or click here for the MP3.
clue condi seems to have been praying at the alter of rev run wright and b. HUSSEIN'S racist church...no wonder clue condi is such a fan of the f'n pali muzzie terrorists and wants to fund their terrorism of Israel...jorge bush should get rid of this incompetent...and many republicans want this a-hole as a VP???
This is the least racist nation on the planet. Tons of affirmative action and welfare money available. If you don't like it GTFO. Find a better place to live like Zimbabwe maybe
Anyway, we also discussed the complete lack of followup to Obama's major speech on race, and how the MSM has gone right back to placing race into the context of the political horse race, not delving deeper into what is behind the demographics of the folks in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
For instance, all these alleged blue-collar lunch bucket folks who don't vote for Obama - is it really about race? If it is, as the talking heads continue to bleat, why aren't reporters going out to do stories on why this is so? Interview some of these voters who cite that race is a factor, and dig deeper?
* Is it that they hold stereotypical views of blacks based on views because of how they were raised, or, say perp walks on TV?
* Do they have any black friends, neighbors or co-workers they are close to?
* What about race troubles them -- affirmative action? Crime?
* Is it the "fear of a black planet" revolution kind of thing?
Wouldn't it be refreshing to have discussions about the above -- to be able to have these questions explored without fear of reprisal and denial? The reporters dance endlessly around the issue, but make all sorts of assumptions that tell us precious little about why race matters to voters, choosing to focus on whether they do. Willingness to look at the former is the key to making progress. I don't have faith that we'll see much reporting from that vantage point.
What's interesting and painful to see is that, even after Barack Obama's speech, too many people really don't have the tools in their emotional toolboxes to 1) call out something they feel is a color aroused bomb, or 2) know how to react when the bomb is tossed out there.
Lacking the tools to dismantle the bomb, the involved parties are either:
1) blown up because they are paralyzed with fear as to what to do next,
2) blown up because they are sitting in front of the bomb arguing what to do about the ticking device, blaming each other for forgetting the tools,
3) run in opposite directions to avoid the explosion, and learn nothing from the experience.
I do all of this thinking aloud about improving the dialogue on race because it helps us all, myself included, figure out what tools we all need to pack to dismantle the bomb the next time we "find" one.
Doing post-mortems on whatever the last color arousal f*ckup -- no matter the cause, regardless of parties involved -- is important, but not if we're screaming at one another, all while trying to convince ourselves that we are more self-aware (or less racist) that the person sitting on the bomb, tied to it because of what they said or did. In the end, too much of the righteous anger ends up being the focus of the discussion, rather than the root causes of implicit bias, and that we need to own up to them to put any rational discussion into context.
Progressives really have a problem on this front, because the painful realization that they don't have the tools often turns into hand-wringing, embarrassment and silence. For some, they may have a hard time thinking about the programming they've received in sheltered or intolerant families growing up, reconciling learned bigotry from people they love. For others, confrontation is simply best avoided because they feel the problem is too large, or that they haven't the "expertise" as the oppressed group to say anything meaningful (that's what I see way too often).
The color-aroused right has a different problem - those folks have no problem owning their biases, but in most cases they don't give a rip about finding the tools because they feel there's nothing in it for them to address racial misunderstanding. To correct themselves would mean equal treatment, and thus a threat to their white privilege.
For the historically oppressed minority group in question, the problem seems to be that they are tired of waiting for the folks in the dominant culture to get a clue and own their implicit biases and get to work on correcting that behavior. That's when the defensive explosions of "are you really that stupid/bigoted/racist" occur and shut the conversations down. It does get tiring to see the same ignorant (blind spot) or malicious race-based "mistakes" occur, particularly when there are plenty of people quick to defend/give a pass to the person making the faux pas and tell the minority to get over it. Little useful analysis is done, no one is interested in acquiring any tools.
And the next bomb the parties find themselves in front of will go off, just as it did the last time. We have to break the cycle.