White Americans Are Still Confused About Racism – Here’s “The Talk” We Need To Have | Citizenship and Social Justice

This is a really well thought out and argued piece by Jon Greenberg:

Growing up and now living in the predominately white city of Seattle, I’ve known and worked with countless White Americans. I have yet to meet one White American who has given or received “The Talk.”

You know, the one that primarily Black American families have to have with their children to keep them safe from the police – because of their race: “Keep your hands open and out in front of you, shut your mouth, be respectful, say ‘sir.’” The one you can now witness through this powerful video:

White Americans have the privilege to grow up without “The Talk,” but that doesn’t mean they should grow up without a talk.

Perhaps because too many White Americans never get one, they too often get race so wrong.

For one, a recent survey reveals that a startling number of White Americans – 55% – believe that they are the targets of discrimination. Other studies (here and here) have corroborated such high percentages. Important to note about this recent survey is that “a much smaller percentage” of those White Americans say that they actually experienced the discrimination.

Before you start blaming Trump supporters for these results, a pre-election poll of 16,000 Americans revealed that Clinton supporters, too, have some serious work to do. For example, 20% of Clinton supporters described Black Americans as “less intelligent” than White Americans.

Racism is a problem all across the board for White America, even in “progressive” places like Seattle.

Maybe this deep misunderstanding of racism explains why too many White Americans don’t lift a finger to stop it. Literally. Most White Americans – 67% – refuse to even click to share articles about race on social media.

We White Americans are long past due for a “Talk” of our own. I’ve even readied some talking points for you.

Before I lay them out, I’d like to note that I’m hardly the first to compile such a list.

However, given white peoples’ attitudes and inaction on racism, another article certainly can’t hurt and could even help. Compare my list to this one, this one, or this tasty one. (It will only help me make my point.)

It’s worth adding to this wealth of existing information because many White Americans still hold on to what they think are legitimate reasons to dismiss information about systemic racism against people of Color.

You may think such reasons are valid, too. You might believe that the evidence of systemic racism is “anecdotal,” argue that sources are “out of date,” or feel skeptical about information from op-eds or radical lefty publications.

So you should know that, for this one article, I’m sticking with numbers, not stories. Also know that, for the most part, I’m citing publications only from the last few years and from mainstream news publications, government or academic studies/data, or coverage of such studies/data from mainstream news publications. As much as possible, I’m staying clear of left-leaning sources like The Huffington Post, which initially covered the Trump campaign in its Entertainment section.

While reading, keep two key numbers from the Census in your head:

  • 62: the percentage of this country that is White American (not Latinx)
  • 13: the percentage of this country that is Black American

If access to institutional power were spread proportionally, 13% of Black Americans and 62% of White Americans would make up any given institution.

Key points:

  • “The Talk” for White Americans must include an honest discussion about education. The narrative of our educational system as leveler of the playing field doesn’t hold up with a racial lens.
  • “The Talk” for White Americans must include an honest discussion about employment and poverty. The narrative of hard work leading to riches doesn’t hold up with a racial lens.
  • “The Talk” for White Americans must include an honest discussion of a system that, according to Ava DuVernay, evolved from slavery. The narrative of our system as a “justice” system doesn’t hold up with a racial lens.
  • “The Talk” for White Americans must include an honest discussion about this country as a meritocracy. That narrative of education as a pathway to social mobility doesn’t hold up with a racial lens.
  • “The Talk” for White Americans must include an honest discussion about housing discrimination – past and present. The narrative of housing as part of the American dream doesn’t hold up with a racial lens.
  • “The Talk” for White Americans must include an honest discussion about health care. The narrative of doctors fulfilling their Hippocratic Oath doesn’t hold up with a racial lens.
  • “The Talk” for White Americans must include an honest discussion about the media we consume. With a racial lens, the narratives of some people barely exist.

via White Americans Are Still Confused About Racism – Here’s “The Talk” We Need To Have | Citizenship and Social Justice

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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