April 19, 2012

silence about race..will wreak havoc

CNN recently featured an article about a study they did on race in America.  the results show that african-american children grow up talking about the reality of race as a factor in their lives.  as children they have hope for racial harmony but by the time they are youth they are jaded with the reality of prejudice against them.  the results also show that white children do not grow up talking about race.  their parents do not discuss either the goal of race unity or the struggles that face people who are not white.

this phenomenon of white children growing up not talking about race, racism, or prejudice in the world is very interesting to me.  i wonder how white parents cannot openly put the subject on the table and consciously acknowledge that it is essential to discuss SOMETHING about race..anything!  at least let the dialogue begin and say that there still is inequality based on race, or that America's achievements were made because of slavery...anything!

yet there is silence..it becomes a 'white elephant' in the room.  the silence breeds prejudice because ignorance and misunderstanding cannot be banished except through a process of developing unity through consultation (a Baha'i method of putting the virtues into practice when trying to make a decision, come to an agreement, or create understanding).  too much silence between opposing groups over a long period of time usually results in revolutions and revolts..all which can be prevented through constructive tools like consultation, listening, open hearts, and willingness to change one's perceptions.  this is when phrases like 'white privilege' fade away and 'social justice' spreads throughout our societies' institutions..

right now, at this moment in America's history, the majority of white families are still far-removed from the fact that it is their responsibility to talk about the history, the current issues of prejudice and injustice that exist for people of color.  most really don't get this.  and most are not able to because when the subject is brought up by people like me -- who want them to own 'white privilege' without guilt or whatever deeply hidden fears they have concealed -- they shut down, they become defensive, they uphold that they like everyone regardless of their skin color, they don't want to hear statistics of how disproportionate and disadvantaged opportunities still are for black people's lives, or facts and stories of the prejudice that black people face on a daily basis.  and they will be the first ones to ask 'why is this happening?' when riots and rebellion replace the silence..

so the racial divide continues..
"No less serious is the stress and strain imposed on the fabric of American society through the fundamental and persistent neglect, by the governed and governors alike, of the supreme, the inescapable and urgent duty -- so repeatedly and graphically represented and stressed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His arraignment of the basic weaknesses in the social fabric of the nation -- of remedying, while there is yet time, through a revolutionary change in the concept and attitude of the average white American toward his Negro fellow citizen, a situation which, if allowed to drift, will, in the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, cause the streets of American cities to run with blood, aggravating thereby the havoc which the fearful weapons of destruction, raining from the air, and amassed by a ruthless, a vigilant, a powerful and inveterate enemy, will wreak upon those same cities."

    (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 126)

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