The Treyvon Martin tragedy raises important issues about race in America.
Those who think unless you wear a white sheet or hang a confederate flag, you aren’t a racist, are terribly naive. Racism is much more subtle and destructive than that. Racism is in how we see people, profile people, and react to people in different contexts.
This is the honest conversation we must be willing to have together. If Treyvon had been white, he would be alive today. If the shooter had been black, he would be in jail.
The answer is not to pretend race doesn’t exist, but to sit down over coffee — or a beer or shared meal — and actually have these conversations with each other. The answer also includes a lot of corporate reflection and confession and a willingness to acknowledge our own bias and issues.
We also need to remember that racism is both about individuals and about systemic and cultural discrimination. While individual racists are abhorrent, the truth is that it is the systemic and cultural racism that is more dangerous and destructive.
Individual racists can be ignored, marginalized, laughed at and easily dismissed as crazy loons. But systemic racism cannot be ignored or laughed at… it is a disease that destroys our souls.
As a seminary professor I had used to say, if you put a cucumber in vinegar long enough, it will become a pickle. Systemic racism is the vinegar of our society… pickling all of us. We need to change the environment to change the culture. It starts with acknowledgement and conversation.
Hopefully, this case will lead to some important dialogue and reflection.
As always, imho.