Although there are those who feel comfortable that racism no longer exists, a good majority of humankind recognizes that racism exists on a consistent basis in America. Following the untimely deaths of unarmed black men like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and most recently, Mike Brown, I ask myself, “How are you going to address this one?” I spent days—even weeks—thinking about how to approach this topic without alienating those who are in the sphere of my influence. Time passed, and as usual, I couldn’t come up with anything, but it’s not because I didn’t have anything to say. It’s just that most Americans today are simply not equipped to have a real discussion on race. As long as we continue to allow fear to compel the reigns of our democracy, it will prevent the open dialogue that could release us from our human closets, skeletons of overwhelming insecurities, and allow transparent racial discourse to ensue.
There’s a significant number of Americans who simply believe that racism is a thing of the past, and is now a figment of our imagination. Racial profiling now more than ever is defining the outcome of the fate of innocent citizens. I, too, have stood at that ominous intersection, where an interaction with law enforcement had the potential to go very awry. I’ve been profiled and followed for fitting the description of someone ‘suspicious’. So can one really be surprised by my raised eyebrow when someone tells me, “It’s not always about
race?” In a perfect world, I’d also like to think that what I’m constantly experiencing isn’t related to my race, but the gruesome reality remains—it is. No matter how positive a person you may be, racism is not an issue that is simply going to go away.
Then, there are those who overgeneralize every black man and his circumstances. In one particular rant, I heard a White man declare that the problem starts in the black home, where there are no fathers present. He went on to say, “Once black fathers alienate their sons, we all turn to gangs for support.” These volatile assumptions immediately alienate even the prospect of reconciliation. The one-size-fits-all approach to fixing black men enrages many black men. Our existence shouldn’t be marginalized to such a condescending assertion because many black men do not fit into this typecast—myself included.
It’s an easy task to sit on the sidelines and tell black men how they should govern themselves, but one cannot ‘teach’ about a subject in which he or she has zero on-the-job experience. And those who do attempt to tackle this subject often do so in a condescending way. My experiences have taught me that even in my idealist state, my presence still brings unrest, causes a raised eyebrow, and invokes fear in those who, by default, associate trouble with the complexion of people’s skin. I have absolutely no criminal record. Unfortunately, my moral civility doesn’t stop me from being followed in department stores, stop me from unnecessarily being pulled over, nor does it prevent elderly Caucasian women from looking bewildered when I enter elevators. These woes are unique to the Black man. People can sympathize, but those who do not share my skin tone, cannot adequately empathize with my plight of carrying extra melanin. This is not a plea for attention; it just is what it is.
The media shows forth an incessant need to sensationalize the Black experience which often keeps Americans in a heightened sense of frenzy. This visually skewed imagery both projects and suggests the Black man as both angry and dangerous. We see the articles, we read the stories, and we watch the videos; however, much of what we are experiencing is not factual or real. Recently, there have been dozens of false stories created and spread throughout social media, which only makes a bad situation worse. If we are constantly baited into the cycle of being pissed off 100 percent of the time. This paralyzes us from actually being able to move forward, because in order to do so, we must deal with actual facts, and not half-truths.
No matter how we may personally feel about racism, a civil unrest has swept this country. The threat of danger that it impedes should be enough to wake all Americans up. And until we all come to a place where we are ready to learn and sympathize, then it’s pointless to converse on race across the lines. Since many of us are not in the discussion of racial disparities to learn, but only to be heard, there’s a standstill altogether on both sides. However, civil unrest has never ended easily or peacefully, and justice isn’t blind. The aim for dialogue will continue in multicultural silence while we shuffle the chess pieces around, yet as a nation, we fail to acknowledge the fact that the pieces still stand on the same board.
Jason R. Scott is the founder/owner of Rasilliant Enterprises, a writing and communications firm. As CEO, he oversees the quality control of an array of writing and editorial projects from their inception until final print. Jason has over 8 years of writing, editing, and proofreading experience and is dedicated to helping others discover the gift of effective writing. He is a graduate of Indiana University, with a major in English Writing.