SSRS of Media, PA conducted a poll regarding race relations on behalf of CBS News and The New York Times April 30th through May 3rd. The results found that 61% of Americans believe that race relations in the United States is bad. This might seem like par for the course except that in the breakdown it was discovered that this is the first time since 1997 that the majority of both Black people and White people feel this way.
Historically the majority of Black people have always recognized that race relations in this country are bad – the media would state that Black people had a “negative view” of race relations. Now even White people also recognize this. Surprisingly the percentage of White people who believe race relations are bad jumped 35% from February to the time of this poll in April creating the majority now being discussed. Currently 62% of White people believe race relations are bad and 65% of Black people believe that race relations are bad. So what is causing the change in the views of White people?
Over the past year there have been a series of unfortunate events that have gripped the nation’s attention. It began with the murder of Trayvon Martin whose cop wanna-be murderer was acquitted. Then there was Michael Brown in Furguson, Missouri who was gunned down in cold blood by police officers who yet again went unpunished. Then there was Eric Garner murdered on video by an illegal police choke-hold. Do I need to say the killers went free. Bringing us to the most recent Freddie Gray who was killed either by police malice or neglect. Civil unrest followed each of these incidents where the communities protested. Some small groups even rioted and looted in their anguish.
While there were small groups that looted stores and committed destructive acts to express their outrage, they were in the minority of voices; however, the media centered their attention on these acts in such a way as to distract from the real problem and the true discussion regarding the events that led to the heinous acts that were committed. This allowed the country to enter heated discussions about riots and looting and ignore the actual problem, which is the violent aggressions of police officers when dealing with Black people (males specifically).
It has become an American tradition to divert and deflect when it comes time for America to own up to its flaws. Instead of addressing issues head on, our country would rather shame the victims and somehow supposed that the other is responsible for the country’s neglect and/or malice. In the case of Black people this was accomplished by insinuating that Black people “have a negative view” of race relations or through the coining of phrases like “reverse racism” and asserting that, somehow, disenfranchised populations are “lazy” and, therefore, responsible for their own condition. None of which ever made any logical sense but was supported and perpetuated by the media to such a degree that the dominant culture – White people – began to accept and tout it as truth.
To some degree I can understand this as an almost natural defense. Having one’s entire perspective of reality changed is a violent and traumatic experience. However, almost every Black person in America has had this moment and found that it was both inevitable and unavoidable at some point. It happens the first time one is called a nigger; it happens the first time one realizes that they were not chosen because of their skin color; it happens the first time one is doubted and treated as an imbecile despite all evidence to the contrary; it happens when one realizes the dozens of obstacles that have to be overcome in order to obtain the most basic necessities. What happens is in that moment everything that was thought before begins to crumble like ash and what’s left it is the dirty truth: we are not equal. That truth brings a sadness; a rage; a frustration; a feeling of utter hopelessness. And when all those feelings have faded away and the days continue on and the discrimination continues on, one settles in to the despair and realizes that something is terribly wrong. It is this kind of revelation that I would suggest is happening to White America. To what end and how deep and objective, I am not certain. But I know that it can no longer be ignored…America, we have a problem.
The point is that we are coming to a point in this country where America can no longer gloss over it ills. Turning a blind eye and pretending the problem doesn’t exist has not worked. Pushing a post race agenda has not worked. There is only one way to fix a problem: fix the problem.When see the youth in the streets rallying and protesting – and yes rioting and looting – what we are seeing is the future of this country refusing to go through their lives living lies and hiding from the truth. We are seeing the pain of centuries of oppression coming to its breaking point. We are seeing the children exemplify the kind of courage that is necessary for change – the kind we have lacked for almost 2 generations. What the poll really illustrates is that we, as an entire country, have no choice but to admit that there is a problem. And we, as a country, must confront that problem head on. Bad race relations is not just a Black problem; it’s an American problem. And it will take all of America to solve the problem.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man