Talking to White People


It’s difficult to discuss racism with white people. To be fair it isn’t just them. It’s an American or human attitude. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Latinos who are employed argue that it’s nonsense that there’s a shortage of jobs in this country. Ironically, the Latinos I’m thinking of always have more than one job that no one else wants.
Anyhow, a few years back I read a book called, “What is the Matter with White People” by Joan Walsh. It gave me tremendous insight as to how white people see things. Get this, most white people in America live very segregated lives. Their opinions are formed in extreme isolation. They experience little to no racial pressure and don’t read, learn or see anything about it first hand. It’s like a lot of them have only one tv channel going all their lives. Imagine if you had only one old fashion channel the kind that cuts out at mid night. You would end up on YouTube and viral if you ever got a microphone too.
Regular white folks think racism describes very disgusting behavior. I’m talking about deep in the woods where banjo wars take place. You know like the movie ” Deliverance”. So it’s difficult to talk about how racism is built in our institutions by white people and that white people have benefitted from the dysfunction. When you say all that they hear …..” You gotta pretty mouth”. and their head explodes.
For many years the facts have been clear. The color of your ass is the biggest indicator of rather you end up in the criminal system and what happens to you in that system. There are cold cruel numbers that show the criminal system is RACIST but the system isn’t changing much because minds have to change before laws do. In Obama’s farewell address to the nation he explained ( too briefly ) the importance of getting out there and talking about “systemic racism”.
This isn’t a new way to change minds. The Gay rights movement has progressed in the same way, one person at a time. The philosophy was and is to “come out” , tell people you’re gay and the life that you live. Slowly, the secret becomes less weird, less scary more about nature and love rather than illness and sin. The isolation no longer exists. The reality and experience has expanded.
White people have to come around to the notion that racism is bad but you aren’t a bad person if you couldn’t see it. Recognition is always the first step to changing anything. White people did the lions share of building the system and they have the biggest sledge hammers to bring it down. When white people speak up white people listen. They are the best ones to explain that there are more than one channel. They have to be the one’s that spread and normalize the notion that racism is a mistake that can be turned around. Once you stop ignoring and learn something it’s different. You can’t get comfortable with racist talk even behind closed doors or ignore dysfunctional systems without question.
It isn’t easy to talk about race. What happens if they get really touchy and ask “why is everything about race?”. What do you say if they say “well, the president is black and he never went to jail” or
” don’t you think personal responsibility is important?”. A lot of times it stops me right in my tracks. I’m shocked how block headed this person I hang out with is. I’m afraid I sound insulting or accusatory. Maybe it’s too personal for me to question someone’s beliefs. Finally, I’ll have just what I want to say and its very informative and understanding and its only a conversation in my mind the real one happened hours ago.
I read a lot about how to do a blog before I started to post. Most of the reading said be an expert at what you’re gonna talk about. Some said you can blog as you learn. What’s important is you are truly interested in the subject. I’m extremely interested just stuck.  The opinion of the majority is wrong. If it’s allowed to slip behind closed doors and be protected it’ll silently keep winning. Are we doing what we can? Mars to Mexicans?
Mexican from Mars


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