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The Race Matters Dialogue

This reports an imaginary dialogue that holds up to the light some the perspectives that are becoming evident in the pages of RaceMatters.org. (Click here to see where this might be going)
The hope is that that in a brief statement we can include the gut-level points of view of people engaged constructively in racial reconciliation. Please send comments and suggestions to: WebSteward. This statement must not attempt to deal with specific actions or programs, just the gut-level instincts we bring to the table. Tom, Dick and Harry spoke first, and now Houston and John have added their voices. Others may need to be heard from.
Houston Baker feels we struggle  John McWhorter says:
"that to be a black American - no matter how successful or well off - amounts to a kind of prison sentence." He compares his situation as a successful black academic with his white colleagues. "It's not that white academics don't work extraordinarily hard, but what they have that I lack is a sense of leisure, an absence of endangerment, a look of being unconcerned that at any moment they could die. Blacks are psychologically constrained, trapped in anxiety-ridden relationships with white culture." Tom's message boils down to this: "I understand we're doing lots of things to make things better for black people. We can point to all kinds of programs and all kinds of money flows. But despite all that I look and see that we're failing. Our programs and our monies aren't doing the job. We're missing something."

Dick responds: "That conceptual model is wrong. Whites shouldn't be doing things FOR blacks; that just perpetuates the "second-class citizen/noblesse oblige/patronizing/you are not capable" attitudes. Whites need to work WITH blacks as partners and as helpers, but the responsibilities are shared because we are all in this together. As white members of society, our hope for society cannot realistically be to turn blacks into people with white values and ways of thinking and acting (but whose skin just happens to be black). Our hope has to be that we can be part of helping all persons in our society to become all they can be -- whatever that looks like, and we have to make a leap of faith that the "whatever it looks like" will be a whole lot better than what we have today."

Harry answers: "That leaves room for me to do nothing until somebody presents me with a model of how blacks and whites can be partners and make a difference. Meanwhile, it seems to me that a lot of damage has been done and our world still works in a way that makes the black man's job tougher than the white man's job. Justice and equity are deep values in our society, and they are abridged on matters of race."
"the main problem African Americans face in school and elsewhere is the set of values they embrace as authentic. Too many blacks dismiss school achievement as a "white thing", he says, establishing a predictable pattern they follow later in life by accepting distorted notions of "cultural blackness" that cast racism as an immutable fact and romanticize ghetto life."
What's Next ?
Dick wants to make his rejoinder and suggests that a means to continue the dialogue be created. One means might be through the Study Circles groups being started in Palm Beach County. Another means might be through an on-line discussion forum. An on-line discussion forum would allow anyone with Internet access to participate. Anyone would be able to add any comment to any topic, or create a new topic. Topics can have subtopics; click on "tree-view; click on the plus sign to see subtopics. Each topic would be a separate dialogue through a technology called threaded discussion. If you would like to see an example, go to www.usms.org. In the menu on the left side, click on Discussion Forums. These dialogues related to the sport of Masters competitive swimming and they were started approximately four years ago. This forum is very active, with many hundreds of people around the United States expressing their views about their sport.
Definitions:
A "fundamentalist" as one who posits the truth of his own view and asserts that anything that deviates from his belief is untrue, whether the fundamentalist is Muslim, Christian, Jew, or any other belief system.

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