It seems strange to me that we cannot, as a nation, discuss race relations in anything like a civil manner. The recent incident between a white police officer and a black university professor in Massachusetts seems to only highlight that fact – there has been a flood of accusations and assumptions, but very few people have been able or willing to sit down and examine the incident on the evidence and known facts. Even the President of the United States, to use his own words, “acted stupidly” on this issue. The Civil War ended in 1865, Civil Rights were specifically codified in 1964, yet here in the Twenty-First Century there is no consensus on definitions of human rights, much less the proper relationship between people of different races. We have even reached a point where a person can start an argument by their choice of label used to describe a group of people.
To me, the heart of the problem is the tone. Most people mean no harm in how they speak and act, and so they don’t much like being lectured to by folks who don’t know the first thing about them, how they are guilty of this or that by association, or how they have to speak and act a certain way whenever they encounter someone of another race. In short, people don’t like being expected to take orders from someone just because of their race, no matter what race they happen to be. They do not respect the message from someone who delivers that message in a tone of condemnation simply for being a different race from themselves. A Black person who holds Whites in contempt is clearly no better than a White person who holds Blacks in contempt, or a Hispanic who hates Asians, or an Asian who hates Native Americans, or a Muslim who hates Jews, et cetera et cetera ad nauseum. The first requirement for a racial dialogue is mutual respect by and for all parties.