Because of the hyper-sensitivity our world has succumbed to, the issue of race is a subject of taboo or insecurity to many. The truth is, we should all talk about it.
It’s really hard to label anyone an expert of race. Many of us have been exposed to various cultural practices and living conditions, but there is a world out there that transcends our experiences or academic knowledge.
We should discuss race for the simple matter of being educated. All of us are unlearned in some area of life. It would do us good to step outside our comfort level and become aware of issues surrounding us.
When discussing race, it is important to realize the emotions and experiences that accompany the topic. A white person, even with good intentions, will never be black and, therefore, cannot speak as a black person. A black person will never be white and, therefore, cannot possess the feelings of a white person. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just the different components of genetics and behavior.
The purpose of discussing race is to garner a better understanding and appreciation for others’ lives. Just because one may say, “My best friend is black,” doesn’t necessarily mean they have taken the time to understand the diverse areas of black culture. The racial makeup of our circle of friends will give a great indication of how we perceive race. If our friends look just like we do, that signals we are afraid of stepping outside of normalcy and comfort. It doesn’t make us evil people. Just unlearned.
When we seek to educate ourselves, we may find our perceptions in error. When discussing race, it’s beneficial to keep an open mind and a respectful dialogue.
One of the biggest barriers to bridging the racial divide is assumption.
We cannot assume that all black people and all white people think alike. I vividly remember some whites in 2008 assuming I was going to vote for Obama solely based on the fact I have brown skin. I know some blacks who are cautious and weary of engaging with whites because they assume they are out to manipulate them. Assumptions are not healthy. They only cause us to be apprehensive and regressive when it comes to communication.
We must be willing to find what we have in common, instead of what separates us. Black and whites alike cherish family, friends, cultural activities, education, sports and such. When we become more focused on the individual, we will find ourselves embracing not only diversity, but humanity.
Nobody should have to fear repercussions due to voicing their opinions on race. But for their views to be valid, they must listen, engage and educate themselves. If we do not discuss race, we limit ourselves and become citizens of an isolated world.
Race is a beautiful thing. It’s a human thing. It should be embraced, not feared.