Michael Brown on What Many of Us White Americans Still Don’t Understand

Do you believe that all of us have blind spots of some kind? That all of us are shaped, for better or worse, by our own upbringing and environment? That we sometimes see things through an imperfect lens? And can you point to many blind spots among those whose beliefs and ideologies you reject? If so, perhaps we can explore some of our own blind spots here, and in this case, by “we” I mean we who are white Americans.

The truth be told, all of us, of all color and background, are much more inclined to see the blind spots of others, pointing out their biased thinking, their convoluted logic, their limited knowledge, and their faulty arguments. But how often do we examine our own points of view through that same lens of critical thinking?

A few years ago, after months of race-related discussion on my radio show, I put forth a simple thesis: White Americans often do not see racism when it is there. Black Americans often do see racism when it is not there.

Some, of course, found this thesis offensive. Many others, however, heartily agreed.

I suggest we test it out here.

As white Americans, when we watch the video of the tragic death of George Floyd, do we see this as race related? For many of us, the answer is no, even if we see it as an act of unjustified police brutality, worthy of conviction under the law (as the court ultimately ruled).

As for black Americans watching this video, this was yet another example of white brutality against an unarmed black man.

In response, we say, “But look at the facts. Look at the statistics. Only a dozen or so unarmed black men are killed by the police every year. You need to stop listening to the race-baiters.”

In response, our black friends say, “How many times have you been racially profiled? And do you need to have ‘the talk’ with your boys when they become teenagers, urging them to respond to police officers with the utmost respect lest they be shot? Or do you think we are just imagining the corporate pain that we feel?”

To be clear, and to reiterate what I have written and said elsewhere, I oppose the dangerous, anti-white curriculum that is popping up in schools across our nation. And I will continue to call out the false “white supremacist” accusations that are being hurled against us white conservatives by the hour.

At the same time, I must ask if we really want our children to know the painful truth of American history, one that is often more sordid than we would like to admit.

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Source: Michael Brown

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