White People and Race


Today, the New York Times released a video where they talk to white people about why they’re uncomfortable discussing race. Check it out with a quick Google search.

I thought that video was odd myself. I mean, they said the topic makes them uncomfortable, but speaking for myself, it’s never made me uncomfortable. And it’s not just a white echo chamber, I’ve had the discussions with actual, real life black people before. But I think that’s all beside the point.

The real point in my educated-guess-of-a-musing, is that white people don’t talk about race not because it makes them uncomfortable, but because they don’t think it’s a problem today. I suspect that they see it as a caricature of the KKK or Dylan Roof or Paula Deen saying the n-word; things that are on the fringe or so obviously racist that it’s easy to be like, “Ooh, yes, that’s bad.”

When you talk to them about redlining, housing, education, the criminal justice system and policing and bring race into any of those topics as an explanation, then it’s suddenly defensive and, “Why are you bringing race into this? I don’t see race!” And that race just isn’t a problem in those areas anymore. It’s hard to get a conversation going about a problem many people don’t think or understand as a problem.

Colorblindness gets co-opted as the tolerant, progressive and enlightened position when it’s really just intellectually lazy and a cop-out.

Certainly since Ferguson last August, there have been great strides made in “having that conversation about race,” especially as applied to policing, but it’s not gone nearly far enough. Too many liberals think if we just make every police department get body cameras, that’ll solve it. Too many conservatives think if you just “obey the law,” then you’ll be fine; not realizing, of course, that if you’re black or brown, the law comes to you in many ways.

2 thoughts

  1. I like how you’ve put it here: “Too many liberals think if we just make every police department get body cameras, that’ll solve it. Too many conservatives think if you just “obey the law,” then you’ll be fine”

    It really encapsulates the problem. I think both groups (people in general) just want the problem to either stop or go away. Both think there’s a silver bullet of some kind.

    It’s odd to think that this problem still exists, but then, the issues in the middle east between Jew and Muslim has been going for longer than black issues in the US and no one ever thinks that will go away.

    Prejudice and bigotry are still alive and well and aren’t likely to ever disappear. Can you think of one that has gone away? Some have gotten better, i.e. multiple countries in the last few years have removed the restriction on same sex marriage, YET, I had a long discussion about it with someone who was against it. It isn’t going away.


    1. Even in the case of gay marriage, while the laws have finally caught up to the culture, I’m still not so sure about the latter. I tend to think there’s a lot, “I don’t care, of course they can be married,” rather than, “Of course they can marry, there’s nothing weird about homosexuality.” While the former is sufficient for the law, it’s the latter that interests me the most in a moral/cultural sense. That’s why I think tolerance is a weird value to strive for. Again, it’s sufficient legally, but it seems to fall short in a moral sense. “Yeah, I can tolerate blacks drinking at the same water fountain as me.” That’s icky. I don’t just want things to be smooth in the legal realm, but smooth in the moral/cultural realm. I’m rambling, but do you see the distinction I’m making?

      Of course, with respect to race relations, it’s a deficit of both legal and moral understanding.


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