Can We Talk? Some Tough Love Steps to Ending Racism in Our Time

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinners

Hufington Post

Posted: 10/16/2015 8:14 am EDT Updated: 10/16/2015 8:59 am EDT

Overcoming racism is about partnership. In spite of our ignorance, prejudice, and privilege, we have the power to end racism, little by little, through conversations, policies and practices. Accordingly, until everyone is willing to come to the table, listen, and open their eyes to how racism is destroying our nation’s potential for true greatness, racism will not die.

The recent tragedies in Sanford, Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, and elsewhere force us as a nation to address an uncomfortable, yet ever-present elephant in the room: our inability to be truthful about which lives actually matter, and under what circumstances. The U.S. professes itself to be the “land of the free and home of the brave,” and is unquestionably a great nation with a rich history of overcoming adversity. We have emerged stronger after surviving wars, natural and man-made disasters, and disease. While our nation has overcome many obstacles successfully; our failure to conquer the cancer of racism will stain our legacy and may even destroy our nation.

The Realities and The Steps Toward Conversation

1. Privilege is real. Acknowledging it is winning the battle. Attacking or deconstructing privilege is winning the war. Merriam Webster defines privilege as “a right, benefit or advantage given to some people and not others.” Whites, as beneficiaries of privilege, stand in and shape the corridors of power and access in every arena.

White or Supremacist ideology defines our “rightness” standard in beauty, education, the economy, and other key areas of American life. Sadly, it is often the measuring stick by which all other races define their value. Whites have the privilege to be or not be concerned with racism, while it is a daily reality for people of color. Whites will never have to fear being killed by law enforcement while unarmed due to race, being murdered in church due to race, or being assumed to be “illegal” or interrogated about citizenship due to race.

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