Why Whites Want to Ignore Racial Issues II (#752)
Welcome to part two of Wayne's conversation with Arnita Taylor, coauthor of A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation. They continue to look at White Fragility and why it is hard for white people to talk about racism, drawn from the book of that name by Robin J. DiAngelo. In this episode they talk about As they continue their conversation they talk about why we all tend to avoid the uncomfortable conversations, how the movie Blind Side reinforced racial stereotypes, and why so many white people didn't even recognize them, and they end with actions we can take to help heal the racial divide in our country.
Wayne's Recent Blog on Conversations about Race
A Language of Healing
Previous Podcasts with Arnita
If You Can Help Us in Kenya
Since this new wave of social upheaval began with the killing of George Floyd, I’ve been genuinely trying to see the injustices that I’m blind too. This isn’t without some success thanks to resources such as this podcast.
Here is one thing I don’t understand that I genuinely struggle with, however:
While I understand that there is systemic racism (that is to say that the odds are stacked against African Americans), isn’t racism primarily a financial issue? For example: as a young white man, I would undoubtedly choose to purchase a property that is surrounded by middle class black people rather than poverty stricken white people. Not because I’m racist.
I ask this question in response to the statistic which was stated that said “white people do not want to move into a neighborhood if the population is >30% black people. It could be argued that it is my desire to protect my family from the violence common in low income neighborhoods.
I do not wish to hurt feeling, or cause controversy. This is just me attempting to educate myself on ways that I’ve been blinded in the past. Therefore, any helpful dialogue would be greatly appreciated and welcomed. 🙂
(From Wayne) Thanks for taking the risk to engage the conversation, Ryan. This social upheaval has been going on a long time. George Floyd’s death was just a catalyzing event since the video was so horrific. Yes, there are many financial realities that make this all so complicated. As I shared with Arnita on the podcast, much of it is just the greed of commerce that appeals to the major buying demographic whomever that is. But that isn’t all of it. Some of our early entrepreneurs were hostile to people of color and felt white Europeans were superior to other people groups in a variety of ways.
And that does show up in the housing market. There are a lot of factors a family considers in purchasing a home—cost, safety, access to good schools, proximity to work, even mission. Almost everyone buys the best home they can afford taking all these considerations in mind. Increased income allows people to buy in better neighborhoods, white or black.
The problem here is that many people assume that a “black community” is more lawless or crime-riddled, or that people of color moving into a neighborhood will cause it to deteriorate. They have the same hopes and dreams anyone else does. They want a safer environment and better schools for their children. The systemic part of racial inequity that is the assumption that they are less responsible or more given to crime. That’s compounded by the fact that they don’t always have equal opportunity or the relational connections to be upwardly-mobile financially.
The conversation we’re engaging is incredibly complex and changing our erroneous assumptions is an important part of that. It’s going to take a bit of work to find the sweet spot of graciousness to all.
I am always telling people that while things are getting worse, they’re also getting better.
Wayne, thankfully since you introduced us to Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy, some time back, I’ve worked my way through more than a dozen similar and related titles also dealing with America’s criminal justice system, mass incarceration in America, the history of oppressed Blacks in America, and Europ, the radical shift in power from the ruling white minority in South Africa to the majority Black population in the 1990s, Child Soldiers in Africa, White Nationalism in America, abuse of institutionalized mental patients. These books along with “A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation”, and many still on my reading list, would not have been written a generation ago, let alone read by many.
White Fragility is certainly an eye-opener when it comes to seeing how deep-seated racism is in white-society, and in my own psyche. There seems to be a lot more needing to be corrected than I can fully wrap my head around. I wonder though if there is a bigger problem that could be put into a book; “Christian Fragility” Why It’s So Hard for “Christians” to Talk About The Teachings of The One They Claim to Follow and Who They Claim Died For Them. The first 6 or so years of my Christian life I was indoctrinated into believing that when Jesus taught about the “Kingdom of Heaven/God” he was really just talking about going to heaven when we die, not about building God’s Kingdom right hear on earth, right now. The closest thing that comes to mind as far as a Christian leader talking about the “Kindom” that Jesus talked about was MLK Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speach, 57 years ago.
Unfortunately, the Church as it has been largely understood for at least a millennium and a half has disgracefully been either the instigator in cruelly oppressing the poor or at least supported national rulers that did so. But increasing numbers of saints are owning both Church history and even their own ignorance about the oppression of the weak, and are now supporting them, having come to the realization of what Jesus meant by being more blessed by what we give than what we have received. More and more followers of Christ know that their Joy can never be full until oppression and suffering are eradicated.