Thursday, August 28, 2014

Racism widespread and up close

Michael Brown.

I’ve witnessed the cruelty of racism up close in recent months as it’s been played out in my apartment building. The most discouraging aspect of the ugliness has been the obliviousness to the problem among both whites and blacks. I’ve almost had to grab a neighbor by the shoulders and shake him to get him to see what has been going on.

Meanwhile, yet another young black man has been shot and killed by a white policeman, and the reverberations are still being felt across America. 

Prompted by the Ferguson episode, New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff suggests that we’re all “a little bit racist.”

Kristoff writes:

Let’s start with what we don’t know: the precise circumstances under which a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., shot dead an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown.

But here’s what evidence does strongly suggest: Young black men in America suffer from widespread racism and stereotyping, by all society — including African-Americans themselves.

Research in the last couple of decades suggests that the problem is not so much overt racists. Rather, the larger problem is a broad swath of people who consider themselves enlightened, who intellectually believe in racial equality, who deplore discrimination, yet who harbor unconscious attitudes that result in discriminatory policies and behavior.


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