I recently came across an article by Ta-Nehisi Coates (a writer/scholar who I enjoy and admire) where he discusses why he is tired of conversations about race. After reading the article, I had to admit that he made a number of very relative points and observations but it brought me to ask myself: should we stop talking about race?
Coates calls for those wishing to make a difference through conversation to instead turn to action. He goes on to state, “But acts would require a mind interested in something more than being told what it already knows.” While there is so much truth in this statement, I have to submit that I have mostly seen this kind of love for impotence in academia and among the highly verbose yet rarely active intellectuals. It is there with these self proclaimed talented tenth one finds endless pontificating conversation that results in only more discussions and debates. Those individuals who they speak about are the ones with the most relevant insight into what will or will not work in terms of change and progress.
Coates makes the point that more often than not conversations about race in America lack substance, informed opinions, and a measure of true concern. I would agree with all these things; however, I cannot bring myself to the conclusion that not having conversations about race is the answer or at all needed. In fact, I would submit that the conversations must continue for the sake of some intelligent minds and concerned hearts may actually get involved in the conversation.
So while I absolutely understand what Coates is saying, I would never go as far as saying the conversations must cease or that for any reason they are unimportant (even the trivial ones). The greater evil is to accept things as they are and never dream, wish, or hope for a change. No matter how frustrated we get with the current state of things,we must not stop talking. We must not become apathetic (made an art in my generation) and indifferent. One cannot seek to change the current state of things by not being involved or engaged. That is in fact surrender and we cannot surrender.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,
An Angry Black Man