Blog post #5

Racism is a popular discourse today and for many good reasons. There is always the danger that unacknowledged history becomes dangerous of repeating itself, a good quote from James Baldwin: “In the context of the Negro problem neither whites nor blacks, for excellent reasons of their own, have the faintest desire to look back; but I think that the past is all that makes the present coherent, and further, that the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.”. As Baldwin notes not everyone wants to talk about racial relations and history and that has been a narrative for a long time.

People want to be safe, they do not want to engage in discourse that shames their neighbor and they especially do not want to talk about issues that imply they or their ancestors did something wrong and hurt another party. This is why the discourse for racism often happens on main street with people holding signs picketing or on the news with experts weighing in and explaining things. People would rather just continue their lives and not confront the past, they do not want their lives to be interpreted for something so painful and offers so little gain for them.

This is why Black Lives matters exist and why Martin Luther King staged protests; people did not want to acknowledge their oppressive lifestyles and history so King, the Black Lives Matter movement, and others pressed themselves into the national consciousness so that people could not ignore the issues. Indeed, the lives of Whites would in fact be easier if they never where made responsible for the extortion of their fellow man and their life more harmonious if they never had to confront their destructive history. But this is not true for the oppressed, the oppressed are hurt and damaged by their silence: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Remaining a part of the status quo only encourages the oppressor to oppress the victim and is why King often spoke about how resisting segregation would help Whites become better, more moral people but in the same way alcoholics do not want to recognize their alcoholism oppressors do not want to recognize their hurtful actions. Eisenhower was famously lukewarm to the social rights movement because of his fear of damaging his own image and power base.

Disenfranchising yourself from your own tribe in support of another will always connotate risk and vulnerability and it is a action that many are willing to talk about but many fewer take. It should also be noted that standing against the dominate tribe is also dangerous and Black Americans and others have been killed for nothing less than trying to be heard. Today that risk still exists and Black Americans still rely on interrupting the national consciousness for support and will continue to do so as long as they have issues and interrupting the national consciousness continues to help support their interests.

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