I was wrong about Shaun King. About two years ago he was tweeting a lot about race relations and getting very vocal in his belief that racism is not only still a thing but it’s a thing that’s actually getting worse. Mr. Middle Class White Guy (that would be me) considers himself very sympathetic to all races. I know racism exists, I hear comments from certain family and friends, but I didn’t want to hear that things are worse in 2014 than they were in decades past. This week I came across a small piece of evidence that I was correct in feeling race relations were getting better – for the last 14 years, most adults thought race relations are “generally good.” Then Michael Brown was killed. Always the optimist, American had a glimmer of hope and said “we can rise above this” (notice the up-tick); then Freddie Gray was killed. Between those “national” stories Tony Robinson was killed right here in Madison, Wisconsin. Shaun King was right: we have a problem.
Why am I writing this today? Because in the last 72 hours, I had two overt and blatant experiences with racism. Interestingly both were in the context of a white woman dating a black man. The first instance bothered me but because of the source didn’t necessarily surprise me. The second really surprised me and it came with an exclamation point when I looked to see a black man within an earshot of this person’s comment. Thankfully before I noticed the black man I had already asked this person “why does [his skin color] matter?”
Two run-ins with racism and then this article telling me that racism is getting worse?! We need to talk about this. We need to help our kids understand racism and fight against any form of it. I have given up on the older generations. By that I mean that I will speak my mind (as I did questioning a racist comment) but I won’t waste my energy trying to convince a racist that they are wrong and are hurting society. Instead I’ll spend my time helping my kids appreciate all people, regardless of their race.
Have you had blatant experiences with racism? Do you talk about it with your kids or in your family?