I have an early morning meeting today, so I don't have time to put together a full post, but I am going to cheat. One of the invaluable benefits of this blog is to have my ideas subject to "peer review" by a lot of very smart people. Kristin posted a comment about a week back that has been stuck in my head ever since. I think she made some really interesting points about what we talk about when we talk about race:
I'm a little behind on my HoCo reading! I'm a Washingtonian now, so not sure if I still get to participate. I'm surprised you feel uncomfortable talking about race because you seem to understand it quite well, in that I think you get privilege, which is what conversations about race are really about. Any time someone fails to acknowledge their own privilege that derives from membership in a certain subgroup when they are talking about another subgroup, that crap is going to be racist, or classist, or sexist, or homophobic. We derive benefits from being white in a white society. And when you fail to acknowledge that, you are being racist. You don't have to think you are better than a person of color, you just have to think you have it the same. It's easy to do. If Del. McDonough had been using his comment about black youths to draw attention to the many ways in which institutions in Baltimore have been set up from the start to disadvantage young people of color, I think it would have been a fine thing to say. There IS a young black violence problem in Baltimore. But it is not because people have a certain skin color that they are violent, it is because they are the victims of a racist society. Del. McDonough only proves this point further by using his pulpit to proclaim that the only problem is the youths themselves. Sometimes I just want to call a timeout on the whole world and make them sit in silence for two minutes to reflect on their crap. I feel like that would have to help.
There is a lot in there to discuss and I hope Kristin doesn't mind that I put her in the spotlight, but this is an important issue for us to digest (whatever that may mean).