Dear White People Who Think Obama is the “Divider in Chief” and the Reason Why the Relationship Between Blacks and Whites is So Bad in 2016:
What have *YOU* done to improve race relations?
Do you have any black or brown friends (and by “friends” I don’t mean work friends)? When you organize a girls’ or guys’ night out, does your social group look like you, or is it as diverse as American society? Do you mostly interact with people who look like you, save the workers in the stores where you buy your groceries and clothes?
Did you take a black studies class in college, or did you think those classes were “just for black people”?
When is the last time a black or brown person came to your house to hang out with you and your family? To eat dinner with your family? To play tennis with your family? To watch the Super Bowl with your family? Are the only non-white people who come to (and into) your house folks who are doing work for you?
Do you regularly chat with people of different races about their experiences as non-white persons in America? Have you ever been party to a racial joke or a racist comment by a white friend or family member and simply remained silent because “that’s just how Uncle Bill is”? When is the last time you stood up for someone who did not look like you?
Are you paying attention to the dog whistle politics that colors (pun intended) how so many of you see black and brown America? Turn off Fox News, and learn to think for yourself, please.
Do you live in a predominately-white neighborhood and never really realized it until now? Do your kids go to predominately-white schools where the teachers and those in charge are all white and the custodians are all black and brown? Are you as outraged about our unequal educational system as the non-white parents in those poorer and mostly black and brown neighborhoods are?
Former President George Bush said, “Too often, we judge other groups by the worst example while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” Do you judge all black and brown folks (and other people of color) based on the actions of a few who may not be behaving well? Are you quick to rationalize why black men are shot by the police while finding excuses for why white men shoot up movie theaters or elementary schools?
Please stop blaming President Obama for the racial division(s) we have in this country, especially if you aren’t actively doing anything to make things better.
Go find yourself a black or brown friend, and start having an honest dialogue about what it’s like to be a minority in this society. Years ago, Rodney King asked if we could all just “get along,” but we won’t ever get along if white people don’t join black and brown people in having serious and brutally honest—and sometimes very painful—conversations about what it’s like to be black or brown in America.
You might not find a solution to the racial quagmire in which our nation finds itself today and we might never usher in that post-racial society that Barack Obama’s presidency was supposed to realize, but perhaps we can usher in a post-racist society because, in 2016, race (still) matters.
Your Black Friend Who Will Gladly Tell You Like It Is