When something is considered taboo it is something that you dare not mention or bring up. A common response to you mentioning something that is taboo would be “Don’t speak of it!” When something is “taboo” everybody around knows that only a fool would bring up the taboo subject in a public setting. You don’t blurt out such subjects when you are in a crowded room. You don’t bring them up when you speak from the podium. You don’t mention these “taboo subjects” at a cocktail party. You only discuss them in the privacy of your home and in your bedroom with someone you trust.
In America, I realize that “race, racism, prejudice” are taboo subjects. Consider a quote from the website, www.tolerance.org: ” Students resist taboo topics — sexuality, religion, immigration, disability, race — because these “hot” social issues often lead to emotional outbursts and interpersonal conflict. Many parents and administrators also find it inappropriate for teachers to delve into controversial matters in the classroom.” The previous quote was in reference to college students. In essence, most people don’t want to deal with the emotional impact of such topics (religion, race, sexuality, etc.). Although that is the case, these issues impact our lives on a daily basis. Whatever is not talked out, I believe, eventually, gets acted out. It is up to us as a society, to constructively address these topics out in the open and not only when we are confronted by them. The idea of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” cannot be applied in the subject of race because the issue is still “broken” in America, it was never fixed to a degree where we can reference it without it being an emotionally charged topic. It is still an unresolved conflict that begs to be resolved!
The subject of race and prejudice in America usually comes up when a victim of racism or prejudice wants some expression or justice in relation to what they have experienced. Then and only then do I see these things become almost acceptable to discuss openly. For example, race was discussed openly when we saw what happened to Rodney King in California. It was also discussed openly when we saw what happened to Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Chavis Parker and a host of other young black men who were killed by the police or some form of security force. Other than these extremely publicized cases, it seems that the topic of race, racism and prejudice goes back on the shelf until needed again.
Another taboo subject in America is a person’s color. There seems to be this collective consciousness that says that “We are all the same and we need not make distinction about color.” Ideally, that is where we would like to get to as a country. Realistically, however, that is not where we are. There are too many examples that scream of inequality. Too many blacks, yes, I used the word, live in poverty. Too many blacks are not getting a quality education (elementary, secondary and college). Too many underperforming school districts are being “ravaged” by bureaucrats in the name of “school reform.” Too many black men are in prison and have no possibility of parole. Too many blacks are in and out of jail and don’t even have the right to vote any more. Too many young black men are being brutally killed by police and other security forces in the name of “justified force.”
Yes, God has created all of us as human beings. We breath the same air. We drink the same water (H2O). We bleed the same way. Our bodies get the same sicknesses and have the same organs. Genetically speaking , Science has linked (the jury is still out on this theory) all humans to one common mother they call “Eve” (see: The scientists behind Mitochondrial Eve tell us about the “lucky mother” who changed human evolution forever ). So, we are all the same, but when you look at the history (include slavery), we have not all been treated the same.
So, I want to shatter this “taboo” and freely discuss race, racism, prejudice and skin color (all shades) freely for the purposes of highlighting a problem that must be addressed so that lives can be improved. Most non-victims of race don’t care to discuss race. For the victims who daily navigate this society with the understanding that the dominant (white) race barely “sees” them or cares to “hear” them, this is a true reality. Sometimes it is more real than the air that they breath, if that were possible.
Somehow, in America, it is wrong to speak up and say that “This was done to him/her because he/she is black.” Those of color KNOW more than anybody when they are discriminated against. An outsider can never define that for them because the outsider does not know what it is to really experience that racism or prejudice as a minority. Yes, a white person will experience racism and it is wrong, but even that offense is a lot different from the person in the minority experiencing that offense. The person in power who experiences racism could say, “Well, that’s your problem if you don’t like me because of my color, I control things anyway, you will still need to come back to me.” On the other hand, the person who is not in power does not have the luxury of saying what the dominant, white person can say. The one in the minority can say “Wow, another reminder of what I have to overcome to get somewhere in this country, I hope that he/she doesn’t close too many doors for me.” This is just a glimpse of the thoughts that people could have. One person sets the conditions for racism, one person is forced to navigate through those conditions.
Those who are afraid to address racism in America may call anyone who points out these trends a “race monger.” They may call anyone who wants to bring to light these issues a “racist.” I believe that the reality is, they don’t want to open up this “can of worms.” But those who are daily victims of it, live in the “can of worms” every day. They just want the “can of worms” to be addressed constructively as a country, as a nation. Lots of good was done in the 50s and 60s during the Civil Rights Movement, but still a lot more needs to be done today, in the twenty-first century.
I believe that all Americans, Christians and non Christians, should put in the effort to address this issue of race. The funny thing is, our best churches and fellowships are afraid to tackle this issue thoroughly, even though it exists there as well.
Let’s shatter the “taboos” of race discussion. Let’s discuss what really is there and not speak from a point of view of only what we wish was there. You can’t confront and fix a problem that you won’t acknowledge is there. The first step is “admitting that you have a problem.” So, we don’t have to live by what I call “fake rules” that say: Don’t mention black or white, don’t mention racism, don’t talk about slavery and its impact on race relations today, don’t talk about reparation, don’t speak up for blacks, don’t help the poor, don’t talk about trends against blacks, don’t talk about inequality, don’t talk about the contributions of slaves, and a host of other don’ts. You fill in the rest.
We must bring race relations in the United States to the table and confront it. It affects every facet of our society and our daily lives in an adverse way and we pretend that it doesn’t. Barack Obama spoke about it four years ago in 2008. That was the last major attempt to address “race in America.” Tons of books have been written about the subject and hundreds of millions of people are adversely affected by it in this country alone. Yet, can we continue to stand by and ignore such a BIG PROBLEM?