I Should Know Better……

This has been a historic time for all of us. First we are subjected to a pandemic. Isolation, quarantine and new normal are all we can talk about. Every night we are bombarded on the evening news with the daily statistics and every story leads right back to the pandemic. We try to escape it through social media with creative ideas and clever stories of how we are spending our quarantine time. These social media efforts are at least humorous and help us to relieve the stress but the reality lies thinly hidden behind those clever posts and tweets.

And then the next shoe drops. Through the unfathomable decision by one individual, the ugly reality of racism is thrown in the mix. The reaction is predictable but the scope still takes us all by surprise. But it shouldn’t have. We have spent lifetimes trying first to justify it, then denying it and eventually pretending to not accept racism. While there are those who openly demonstrate their bigotry, the majority of people falsely believe, that though it exists, it certainly doesn’t exist in them. We desperately want to believe that we not only have no biases, but that we are supportive and have worked to reduce the effects of racism in our culture. And yet???? Why do we still unconsciously stereotype black people?

I am one of those and feel the need to confess. Anyone who knows me, knows that I believe in equality among all humans, no matter race, gender or religion. And yet, I was reminded just the other day that I am not so innocent. We were watching a show focused on Black Lives Matter. One of the segments was an interview of a black pro athlete who was speaking of a program designed to answer the ‘uncomfortable questions’. As the interview proceeded, I turned to my wife and said “He certainly is articulate.” I was immediately called out by my daughter. “Why would I have felt he wouldn’t be”, she asked? Because he was a football player? Or was it because he was black? Or worse yet, because he was a black athlete? My first response was to quantify what I had said. But as I began to formulate my excuse, the reality of the situation hit me. That and the fact that I was not the politically correct, unbiased supportive person I wanted to believe I was. I started hearing myself saying “I have several black friends.” Why did I need to attach the adjective?

We all see and recognize the racism when it is blatant. We all wonder how anyone can feel that way? Some of us even take up the charge and march alongside other supporters as they protest the total inequity of the treatment. But change won’t take place if we simply succeed in silencing the racists, a task that is anything but simple. Change needs to be systemic. We need to look at ourselves and ask how can I drop the stereotyping and change the narrative. In many ways, it is the day to day narrative, the unintentional stereotyping and the acceptance of the black person’s plight that cuts the deepest and creates the environment we so desperately need to repair. Why go out of our way to identify someone as my black friend, or a black athlete or a black titan of industry. Why can’t we simply drop the adjective and acknowledge the individual for who they are and not what they are. Until we do that, we continue to give room for the racist to breathe their message of hate and for society to fail at honoring our Declaration of Independence, “All men (people) are created equal.” But not until we treat them as such.

5 comments

  1. Beth Elver · June 13

    Very thought provoking, Ken. I found myself asking the same questions as you. Do we try to justify our actions? Go back to 1492 and substitute Native American or Indian for black. I was teased when I was in high school for being Norwegian BY by Norwegian friends. Go figure. Hi to Deb. I hope you received and like your Yosemite bookmark. 😍

    Like

    • kwundrow · June 13

      The bookmark was perfect. Especially mysteriously received in letter from me to me. I just returned and opened it as i was finishing reading in my current novel. Didnt have to fold over the page. Thanks for reading my blog and always commenting. Means a lot to an amateur wanna be writer.

      Like

  2. Gretty · June 13

    Boom! This post is spot on, Ken. Thank you for your vulnerable sharing and zeroing in on racist truths we need to address and change.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Karen Briggs · June 13

    This really got me thinking about the difference between racism and implicit bias. I know that although I do not consider myself racist, I definitely have implicit bias : implicit bias [ im-plis-it bahy-uhs ]SHOW IPA ________________________________ noun Psychology. bias that results from the tendency to process information based on unconscious associations and feelings, even when these are contrary to one’s conscious or declared beliefs:

    and…..that is really tough to combat. We are all products of our life experiences, teaching, environment, etc. If I may play devil’s advocate, if you had called your daughter “articulate”, would she have called you out for saying that just because she is your daughter, or because she is a woman? I know there is a difference and puts me in a position of being accused of “cancel culture”. The fact that you are an old(er) white male, also carries some implicit bias. Having said all that, I agree that we have a huge racism problem in this country and we need to get it resolved. I certainly don’t have the answers and I am not by nature, a politically outspoken person. I tend to keep my own counsel and have made a rule of not engaging in debates on social media because that is not why I use it. I realize that being a silent, uncomfortable at times, non-confrontational white person, I am “part of the problem”. Well, so be it. Guess I will continue to count on people like you and your daughter to speak on my behalf. Thank you, Ken, for being a voice for change! ?? ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gretty · July 23

    Hey, Ken. I apologize that I did not leave a response when I read this post last month. I’ll attribute my silence to the fog of processing the horror I lived in for the month of June. I applaud your words and vulnerability in this post – which reflect your strength of character. I found myself nodding my head in agreement over and over.

    I especially liked your point “it is the day to day narrative, the unintentional stereotyping and the acceptance of the black person’s plight that cuts the deepest and creates the environment we so desperately need to repair.”
    Amen, Ken!

    Liked by 1 person

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