Don’t ignore it

The importance of starting a dialogue on race

By on March 29, 2015

In a recent Gallup Poll, the survey discovered that 13 percent of Americans viewed race as the “biggest national problem.” Despite the findings, many believe race is no longer an issue although the poll suggests the exact opposite; ignorance allows some to ignore the issue at hand.

But now it’s time to talk about the issue we too often avoid: race. It appears the issues we need open dialogue about become (more often than not) the discussions left unexplored—rather than making progress through acknowledging the problem and then establishing a national dialogue, the nation has done just the opposite. We have fallen silent.

So let me be clear: race is an issue. Let me say it again. Race is an issue. So let’s get talking.

Over the course of the past few years—and certainly during the last few months—countless news stories have effectively illuminated instances of unjust actions fueled by racial prejudice. Despite the trend, some suppose the events depict nothing more than isolated incidents of racial violence—sporadic instances of racial hatred. Some may take it a step further by suggesting the events, rather than being racially motivated, are nothing more than unfortunate occurrences that happened to occur between people of different races.

In case you forgot, here are a few of the irrefutably race-driven events that captured national headlines over the past three years: The death of Trayvon Martin (2012), the death of Eric Garner (2014), the death of Michael Brown (2014) and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon bus chants (2015). Although the list could certainly be prolonged, space-constraints will prematurely curtail my list, but I hope my point is still clear.

Despite continued national news stories depicting enduring racial confrontations, I continue to hear a dangerous belief vocalized. It is this question asked with a tinge of resentment: “How does that have something to do with race issues?”

Rather than seeing the news stories for what they are,—continued evidence of national undercurrents of racial divergence and prejudice—many attempt to view the events as instances with negligible racial significance.

But let me be clear: denying the racial significance and repercussions of the aforementioned events is akin to falling from a tree and then denying the influence gravity had in initiating the fall; the assertion—both flawed in logic and failing to depict reality—is false.

It is easy to dismiss the recent tragedies as terrible mishaps without racial prejudice influencing the outcomes, but the claim is without merit, and the claim illuminates why the problem persists. Acknowledgement of a social issue catalyzes change, while ignorance—although quite blissful—inhibits social evolution; and that’s why the American racial issue persists.

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