Obsession with anything is unhealthy. It warps the mind. It causes tunnel vision, which is sad because the world wasn’t meant to be seen through a pin-prick lens.
Take Jennifer Harvey of Drake University, for instance. Her recent piece in The Huffington Post, titled “For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids,” is a great example of what happens to a mind obsessed with race.
In short, Ms. Harvey is concerned that a.) white parents aren’t talking to their kids early enough about race and b.) white parents are filling their kids’ heads with useless platitudes.
Time and again, my white students write that “everybody’s equal” is the “most important” thing their parents taught them about race. Time and again, a not-insignificant number of them then proceed to describe their present trepidation about a.) telling their parents they date interracially; b.) bringing home a Latino/a or black classmate; c.) Thanksgiving break, when everyone will silently tolerate the family member who makes racist comments; or d.) something else that reveals how deeply and clearly these students know this “most important teaching” doesn’t mean a hell of a lot to their actual white experience. …
Liberal, conservative, or moderate, whites interviewed insist they don’t see color only to say something overtly anti-black/brown/etc. mere moments later. Incoherence is, apparently, pervasive in white culture. But, even if we’re assuredly not the parents who convey negative views of interracial dating, there is urgency here. We must figure out what these findings — Nurture Shock’s and my own — mean for how we talk (and don’t and should talk) to white kids. …
Imagine the conversations that may have taken place between parents and their black or Latino/a children after Trayvon Martin was killed and George Zimmerman walked. I’d be willing to bet that pat answers were nowhere in site.
This thought experiment doesn’t give us the content, but it does show us the standard for the caliber of conversation required of us. If we want our white children to live in a world with more racial justice than the one we live in now, we need to figure out how to have conversations with them as real, thick, painful, resilient, strategic and authentic as the conversations those parents had to have. So that our kids can help build that world.
Did it ever occur to Ms. Harvey that one of the reasons white kids tend to give college professors politically correct platitudes is because politically correct professors (like Ms. Harvey) have made having real conversations on race nearly impossible? Are white kids incapable of honestly discussing race, or is it just the kind of white kids who willingly sign up for courses where they are shamed for an entire semester?
In Jennifer Harvey’s world every year is apparently 1861, so I will do her the favor of explaining a healthier way of interpreting the world around her as it pertains to race relations:
- Morons exist. They will always exist. So the question becomes: “Do enough morons exist to prevent person ‘x’ from pursuing their dreams and generally succeeding through hard work, smart life choices and perseverance? In the U.S., the answer is ‘no.’ Whether you think you can or think you can’t in the U.S. — you’re right.
When I was in the military, I had great relationships with men of all colors — men I would gladly have died for. When I went to college I encountered women like Ms. Harvey, who said I was “subconsciously racist.” In life you find what you’re looking for, and if you’re always looking for evidence the world is out to get you the universe will provide it for you. Ms. Drake looks for evidence that “incoherence is prevalent” in white people, and so she finds it. She looks for “overtly anti-black” comments, and finds them. My guess is that no race has a monopoly on incoherence and no race has a monopoly on morons, but perhaps that’s just my own white incoherence talking.
Neale Donald Walsch (who I have plenty of disagreements with) puts it rather well in this case:
“Which snowflake is the most magnificent? Is it possible that they are all magnificent — and that, celebrating their magnificence together they create an awesome display? Then they melt into each other, and into the Oneness. Yet they never go away. They never disappear. They never cease to be. Simply, they change form. And not just once, but several times: from solid to liquid, from liquid to vapor, from the seen to the unseen, to rise again, and then again to return in new displays of breathtaking beauty and wonder. This is Life, nourishing Life,” (Communion with God).
As tough as it is for most college professors to comprehend, guys like me see all individuals as spiritual beings of light — manifested into their physical bodies on this plane of existence by the grace of God. Why would I have conversations with my child about “racial justice” when spiritual clarity is what is really needed? Do I want my child to be mired in petty politics and tit-for-tat race debates, or do I want him to transcend it all and be more in tune with his higher self? The answers to those questions are self evident.