Thinking about Race

2018 Items

Howard Thurman, “Jesus and the Disinherited” - (May 2018)

Thurman’s book Jesus and the Disinherited, first published in 1949, has chapters on “Fear,” “Deception,” and “Hate,” which he calls “the three hell-hounds…” This segment, from “Fear,” p. 35, resonates today:

“It is instructive to inquire into the effects of fear on the disadvantaged. Fear becomes acute, in the form of panic or rage, only at the moment when what has been threat becomes actual violence; but the mere anticipation of such an encounter is overwhelming simply because the odds are basically uneven. This fact is important to hold in mind. The disadvantaged man knows that in any conflict he must deal not only with the particular individual involved but also with the entire group, then or later. Even recourse to the arbitration of law tends to be avoided because of the fear that the interpretations of law will be biased on the side of the dominant group. The result is the dodging of all encounters. The effect is nothing short of disaster in the organism; for, studies show, fear actually causes chemical changes in the body, affecting the blood stream and the muscular reactions, preparing the body either for fight or for flight. If flight is resorted to, it merely serves as an incentive to one’s opponent to track down and overpower. Furthermore, not to fight back at the moment of descending violence is to be a coward, and to be deeply and profoundly humiliated in one’s own estimation and in that of one’s friends and family.”


“Get Out” - (April 2018)

“‘Get Out’ made these [Academy award] voters uncomfortable by showing that black people can be silenced, whether ignored, stereotyped or even, as happens in the movie, kidnapped. So those voters’ response was to attempt to silence the movie, which paradoxically proves one of its main points.

“Such willful ignorance isn’t unique to the Oscars, however. This kind of attitude is also partly to blame for the lack of progress for African-Americans in rates of homeownership, incarceration and employment over the past 50 years. The Economic Policy Institute recently released a study showing that the black homeownership rate stayed about the same from 1968 to 2015. But during that time, the black incarceration rate nearly tripled, and it’s now more than six times the white incarceration rate. And the unemployment rate among blacks is worse than in 1968, and now twice the rate of white unemployment.

….

“Many white Americans desperately want the “post-racial” idea to be real; they want to think the country has made progress. But given statistics that show discrimination is still hindering black economic progress, and the desire to keep the black condition invisible, it’s clear that we have to work harder on producing the improvement in black life too many Americans think already exists.”

From a March 8, 2018, op-ed in The New York Times, “Why Didn’t ‘Get Out’ Win Best Picure?” by Kashana Cauley, a television and freelance writer and a contributing opinion writer. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/opinion/get-out-oscars.html


Service to the cause of racial equality - (February 2018)

“It does no service to the cause of racial equality for white people to content themselves with judging themselves to be nonracist. Few people outside the Klan or skinhead movements own up to all-out racism these days. White people must take the extra step – they must become anti-racist.”

-- Clarence Page, 1996