Optimists about race are more likely to be white, writes Howard Ross, a diversity consultant. Here is a link to my post at the Not in Our Town Princeton blog, quoting Ross, who reviews Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.
This hit home to me. As someone who works against racial bias at Not in Our Town Princeton, I encounter some white people who deny racism exists here. Others insist on recounting their own progress toward wiping out bias and cast an optimistic light on the nation’s progress.
Ross does not call for whites to feel shame or guilt. He just asks whites to admit that they cannot possibly understand the black experience and that we are all part of a system “that is bigger than any of us.”
Writes Ross: “When even those who “make it” suffer indignities that no one else has had to suffer before, as when a President of the United States is the subject of active attempts at humiliation, or the greatest tennis player of her time is called “too aggressive,” or when hundreds of studies show that we still subtly exhibit bias in every area of life. It is natural for those in the dominant group to see incidents. Those who are impacted see an entire system that is designed to undermine them in every way.”
He tries to remain optimistic believing that, as Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
“But I can afford that hope,” says Ross. “I am white.” Here is the link to Ross’s complete text.
To gain a deeper understanding, here is last year’s Bill Moyers’ interview with Coates.