At lunchtime on September 8th, I attended a faculty meeting for a dialogue and presentation discussing the causes and effects of racism in America- specifically in reference to the African American community. Headed by Professor Elizabeth
Swanson, who teaches African American Literature, the faculty diversity meeting began by listening to Professor Swanson’s presentation on what she refers to as “The Changing Same”. It describes the constant oppression that the collective African American people have endured since the very foundation of colonial America. The presentation touched on topics such as Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen”, the triangular trade, slave
codes, lynching, and the red-lining of specific neighborhoods. The discussion
laid the foundation for why organizations like Black Lives Matter are entirely justified for protesting the systematic oppression of African Americans in the United States.
America has a long and ugly past with race relations, and yet American history is black history. It is important to note that at every chance, American culture and
government has consistently and overwhelmingly oppressed it’s African
American population. Ghettos, Jim Crow, and a history of racially
inspired killings have only served to cut a deep, bloody, and painful gash
in the abdomen of racial harmony. Beyond racism is oppression, the
step before subjugation. America has always had at least two of these
awful traits, as Professor Swanson’s “Diversity Matters” made clear.
This is why she asserts the justification of Black Lives Matter.
There are two issues I take with BLM, however, I find their approach
unproductive, shortcoming, and needlessly attention seeking. I am
fully aware that their cause is just, and their goals are right, but their means? I can not support it. The atmosphere bred by the violence and outright hatred of members of this
group only serve to evoke equally passionate emotions from the reverse
side of the conflict. It was hatred that bred segregation, hatred
that built the yoke of slavery. Yet, here we are, ignorantly hating another
only to create more contempt. Looking at the news, it’s clear to see a
possible backwards turn in the cycle of racial harmony. By embarking on the path of hatred and division, by both BLM and others, I can only see
one result that will follow; one everyone can see unfolding before our
eyes: the obvious breakdown of race relations in the United States.
I start to wonder though, how can we salvage this wrong? What can be done? Are we beyond righting racial injustices? Many, even in the faculty meeting, say yes. Beyond the shortsightedness of that assertion, I find it offensive and wholly ignorant.
There is absolutely no reasonwhy the African American community should stay neglected and patronized as it is currently. This is the community that endured, at every
turn, America’s darkest realities. To suggest that economic and social redemption for these Americans would be unattainable, truly betrays one of a revolting order of racism.
In principle, solving the issue of racial tension and inequality is not a complicated one. It would require a strong and simultaneous reformation of three crucial areas of American
Primarily, inner cities need an effective and influential education system. In today’s market, not graduating high school is, quite literally, economic suicide. Time and
time again, African Americans have shown strength in the face of systematic
adversity. There is no reason to think that our most neglected population is not capable nor willing to learn and strive for a quality education.
Secondly, the business community must be assured that investment in the inner cities and poorer areas of America will be respected and rewarded. African American
youths desperately need jobs. This is a fact beyond any measure of refute. Riots and looting must be stopped, as they only hurt our poorest communities beyond what the accumulation of decades of negligence has
brought. Once investors see the inner cities as a viable and profitable market, they will flock to the inner cities to not only turn a profit but help our nation’s neediest communities as the moral social entrepreneur ought.
Lastly, this society that propagates racism must be brought to an end. Period. Everyone with any sense of reality agrees that the entire premise that one race is superior
is false, offensive, and bigoted. Why then, must we make race such a defining feature of societal identity? Morgan Freeman eloquently answered
this problem is a resounding manner. When asked, “How are we
going to get rid of racism?” Freeman replied “Stop talking about it!
I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” We are humans. There shouldn’t be a separation. There isn’t a separation.
To see a difference, good or bad, between two men purely because of the difference of the concentration of melatonin in their skin would be the literal Oxford definition of racism.
Professor Swanson’s discussion on Diversity and race was enlightening and opened my eyes to the real need for justification in the black community. That is, justification though inclusion and brotherhood.Only once we learn to act as one, not two, can we then begin to walk together the path towards harmony and peace.