Let’s just be honest, most of us talk very differently about race when we are among people of a different race. It’s true and we all do it. Here we are some 52 years after the passage of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination, and we are still hiding our true feelings about race and the emotions we all struggle with everyday. It is only when our conscience is pricked by the beating or shooting of an unarmed black man by the police that a national conversation on race resurfaces. But a few weeks later it blows over with little done to hold those who break the law accountable, thus hardening racial tension everywhere. What will it take for us to face the new reality of race in America? When will we begin an honest conversation not prompted by anger or frustration about what it really means to be black in America? Time is running out for our nation to get this thing right because America is browning, becoming more and more a melting pot of people of color who do not identify with the black American’s plight for equality and equity. Many other ethnic groups who come to America don’t really understand why it is that black Americans, with our black president, have not put aside attitudes that they see as self-pity to overcome the obstacles of race. Are they right, are we still grappling with systems of discrimination in America because we are not willing to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and just deal with it? I think not! We struggle with race in America because the struggle is real!
Race permeates every aspect of American life. Our blackness is a visible sign to those around us that prompts a mindset that we are somehow less than—not quite worthy of the same expectations of life. The evidence and data support that there is still disparate treatment of blacks in every system in America—education, health care, housing, law enforcement, employment, criminal justice, political, and the environment. So, how do we fix it? It’s a complex problem that at times seems too great for us to combat, but we can successfully confront this crisis by first being honest. America is not where she needs to be when it comes to racial bias and prejudice. That’s simply the truth. Racial healing in America will only happen when our nation accepts that our systems, both government and private, are sick and are in need of care.
Let’s start today on the path to a cure for the crisis we’re facing on race with an honest conversation and a pledge to do something to make a difference in our own circles of influence. I hope you will join our conversation on racial healing at the 9th Annual Circle of Influence Leadership Summit, Dec. 15-16 in Columbia.
We can do this, together!