(Plain Press, July 2015) The recent shooting in South Carolina, nine innocent people murdered as they worshipped our Creator, was more than mere racism. Racism exists in benign and malignant forms. Benign racism is something that most people — of all races – experience occasionally. A product of insecurity, it is easier to control and likely to be overcome with time. Malignant racism, on the other hand, can lead the mind into insane states of hatred; hatred directed at unknown individuals. This is what we witnessed in South Carolina. By confusing benign racism with malignant racism and mental health issues, we do a disservice to the collective effort to achieve racial harmony.
Innovative thinkers on the topic of race – such as HIP-Cuyahoga — have to be identified and encouraged to weigh in on the community response and discourse before the issue turns sideways.
To gain perspective, we might discuss the variety of abuses that occur within races. Black people don’t generally have to travel outside of the race to experience abuse, we are met with challenges to our constitutional rights by members of our own race daily. I imagine that White communities — especially women – face similar challenges. No race can unilaterally solve the problem of racism. We must communicate and cooperate with the understanding that our fortunes are tied together.
Under no circumstances can we allow our occasional experiences with benign racism to keep us from working together to eliminate structural racism. Public policies that hurt minority communities coming out of the gate, such as redlining and predatory lending, tend to hurt White communities on the return flight; the boomerang effect.
Especially in moments that threaten to divide us, diverse communities must reach out to each other. When we don’t, we allow our spiritual growth to be stunted; deferring the dream of a more civilized, more evolved nation.
Near West Side