Wednesday, March 26, 2008

not so simple

If only the problem of healing America's racial divide were as simple as electing a black president...

While I often appreciate Eric Zorn's columns, I think he's oversimplified the problem in this one. Electing a black president would be one step towards healing. Obama's speech was another step. But these steps would be only the beginning of a dialogue, not the final word on the subject.

There is bigotry on both sides of the fence that has to be overcome. It won't be easy and it won't happen quickly. Much of the bigotry that existed back in the 1950s is still there, albeit in more subtle forms. Until we, as a nation, decide to grow and change, this will continue to hold us back.

The cultural differences between mainstream white culture and mainstream black culture are substantial and very real. Some individuals are in a position to bridge that gap. Listening to their perspectives can promote greater understanding of our differences.

After all the controversy you have heard about Barack Obama's pastor, Rev. Wright, have you taken the time to go beyond the post-9/11 sound bites shown on Fox News and seek out the context for those comments? Hearing those short snippets in context changes the message considerably.

We need to talk on a nationwide scale, not just for a day, but for as long as it takes. But talk isn't the only piece of the equation. To have a real dialogue, we also need to listen. If we only talk but do not listen, we may be under the illusion that we are making progress without actually doing so. We need to understand the context of what we are hearing, and take time to learn more if we do not yet understand.

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