Today's blog centers on a very touchy subject, one that I can only discuss through my own personal experience that has been shaped by a life played out in six different decades. The subject involves racism, a very polarizing topic among and even within different ethnic groups. Racism in America affects all groups, whites, blacks, asians, jews, polish, etc, however, what I want to focus on today involves an issue that I have noticed several times in recent years, specifically limited among my black co-workers. It involves a defense shield that gets raised far too quickly, far too lightly, and without just and rational cause. This shield, when raised in such a manner, signals trouble. Let me explain.
The issue is that when some people in a minority group receive criticism, sometimes their first reaction is not to carefully consider what has been said about them or even the person making the criticism. Before even spending just a moment in thoughtful reflection and consideration, their first line of immediate action is to accuse those that have brought forth the criticism as racist. Note that a criticism does not signal in any way an attack. It is not calling someone out in front of others for the purpose of humilation or putting someone in their place. Racism is a very serious charge that some toss around as a kneejerk response, and it does them and their race a great disservice. Not only does this tend to strengthen existing stereotypes and throw up walls between the people involved, it also leads to a very distorted self image of the person. Their self-view can become completely out of whack with the reality that everyone else sees. It's not me, it's them. Never me. In effect, they come to view themselves as infallible, as bulletproof. It also weakens the true affects of racist attitudes and practices by consequently diluting the pool with unfounded and uncalled for charges of bigotry.
I am afraid that given how deeply rooted race issues are among people of all ethnicities, the only solution is to work toward consistently small changes that will allow for gradual improvements in attitudes and relations as the old generations die out and the new generations rise up. It seems that parents still pass on their hatred, their mistrust, and their bias to their children either overtly or in more subtle ways. Even if clashes are not in the forefront as they were in the past, the old bigotry and suspicion are still ever present. They still run deep.