Reactions to Race and the Race to React

Today our minister discussed Selma and the impact of Civil Rights work of 50 years ago. I am always struck by the planning, thought, and patience that civil rights leaders showed during that time. The effort put into addressing large issues, in large ways, with patience and planning is awe inspiring to me. I think part of the reason it is so amazing to me is that it is so different from how we address race issues lately. I think some civil rights issues are still addressed this way but race issues, particuarly issues involving African Americans are addressed very differently.

They way people take up,these issues today are simple. You are already for or against a particular view point so when it happens you already know where to find like minded individuals. For instance, those who already believe that cops are inherently racist or that Black men are inherently violent, already have social media channels and groups of friends full of like minded individuals. There is no need to wait for evidence, facts, or investigative journalism. when someone a thousand miles away from the incident has already tweeted “what really happened” and it fits with our opinions we feel our views are confirmed. We have become a people already prepared for outrage on a hair trigger waiting for a cause to jump on.

If in reading this, you have already become angry and wish to tell me how I am ignoring some side of an issue, you will only prove my point by commenting as such. I’m not saying that the there are no race issues in our society for I believe we are rampant with them. I am saying that many folks are not prepared to listen to any meaningful conversation about them, because they have already made up their mind as to if they exist and if so, why they exist. Their opinion is informed with the righteousness of group-think that blocks out anything opposed as “lies” since it may muddy or dilute their argument. Visceral reaction and volume of voice has replaced well examined opinion and thoughtful arguments.

I long for examined opinions and thoughtful arguments. Those are the things that change opinions and inform people. Those are the things of which learning is made. If you can not hear the ideas of the other side without getting angry, how can you expect them to hear yours. Further provoking their anger is surely not a path to finding common ground. 

Knee-jerk reactions, non-violent protest, violence against police officers, systematic racism