Many people are realizing that they can no longer sit on the sidelines when it comes to race in America. But where to start? Rebecca Trotter brings her sharp eye, wit and compassion to a subject which has long been taboo. As a woman who has spent the last 20 years in an interracial relationship and is now mother to 5 mixed race children and stepmother to two African American teens, Rebecca has been in the unusual position of being able to observe the inner-workings of race in America close-up and is now sharing these insights with a wider audience.
Despite being a conservative and rejecting the social engineering programs that liberals have foisted on the world, Rebecca makes the argument that conservatives fundamentally don’t “get it” when it comes to race. The relationship between white and black Americans is too often like a bad marriage; each side assumes the worst of the other and cannot seem to take the other’s perspective seriously. Rebecca argues that greater empathy is the first step to finding answers to our conflicts.
If you don’t understand why the shooting of an unarmed kid in Florida has generated so much furor while crimes by African Americans against whites go unnoticed, this book is for you. If you can’t quite understand why crime statistics don’t support an knee-jerk fear of African American men, this book is for you. If you don’t understand why a well-educated black man can attend a church with a man like Jeremiah Wright and not be seen as a radical, this book is for you.
Or maybe you don’t understand why everyone can’t just let the race thing go or you’ve just never given the topic much thought or you have, but don’t know how to talk about it; this book is for you too. Without shaming any one, Rebecca lays out some of the underlying issues that many people struggle to understand in a way that is accessible and even – gasp – enjoyable. Agree or disagree with her views, this is a read with stories and ideas that you will find yourself returning to again and again.
Introduction/Free Chapter: What a white girl knows about race
I was a resident assistant – a perfectly miserable job that no undergraduate should ever have – in the women’s dorm. We were having a meeting about race relations in the building for reasons I can’t even begin to recall. Part way through the meeting, a group of the black women gave a myriad of examples of ways they were being harrassed by one of the RAs. I kept looking around at the other 5 RAs in shock. I couldn’t believe that one of them would act like that! You think you know someone – and then one of the young women says, “let’s just stop beating around the bush – Rebecca, we’re sick of you harrassing and mistreating us.”
The American Race and Race
Imagine for a moment, a long relay race where for generations it has been considered acceptable and in some cases even required to break the limbs of a one group of people trying to run the race. The people thought this was OK. After all, it wasn’t long ago that this group of people had been used as horses to pull everyone else’s carts around the track. At least they were free of that back-breaking work. . . Of course, people with broken bones do not do very well in the race.
Black-White Conversations We’re Afraid to Have
Over time, I’ve come to see the relationship between white Americans and black Americans as being like a bad marriage. Neither side trusts the other, each attributes the worst possible motivations to anything the other side does, neither is willing to listen to the other but continually demands that their concerns be taken seriously, etc., etc.
Seperated by a Common Language
A couple of weeks ago, I told my husband a story that happened in Chicago about a woman who had gotten in trouble for saying that her next door neighbor kids were “climbing in a tree like monkeys”. The problem is that her neighbor kids are black. Their father had a fit and called the police. I expected my husband to roll his eyes at the father’s ridiculous reaction to this woman’s comment. Instead a rather nasty argument ensued.
Transcending Race and Delusional Conservatives, Part 1
“Transcend race” is one of those phrases which means different things to different people. It seems to be a Rorschach test of wishful thinking in which people see it as meaning what they want it to mean. . . on the conservative side, I have heard a fair amount of talk which indicates a wish for “transcending race” to mean eliminating race as an issue to which we need to pay attention to or offer consideration for.
Transcending Race and Delusional Conservatives, Part 2
Last week I wrote a post titled “Transcending Race and Delusional Conservatives” outlining several ways that mainstream conservative thinking about race is wrong. (And I am coming at this as a conservative myself, mind you.) Today, in the Washington Post, Gary MacDougal wrote a column titled “Jeremiah Wright’s Wider Toll” which is one of the worst examples another conservative misconception about race that I have seen: the “if they would just get over it, they would be successful” meme. The premise of the column is that Jeremiah Wright’s worst offense is preaching a message of racial grievance which leads to a lack of personal responsibility and effort by those stuck in inner city communities.
You know all those studies which keep showing that we humans are really good at fooling ourselves? Yeah, here’s some proof of that.
A Letter to a Young Black Man
I’m sure you’ve been told before that you are important, but I’m also sure that you don’t actually believe it or have any idea how true it is. You can’t. Because no matter how often you may have been told that you are important, so much of what you have seen in real life has told you that men, black men in particular, are only problems. You’ve never consistently seen men be important and good. You’ve seen women raise their kids without fathers and carry the majority – if not all – of the financial load for their families. And this isn’t to rip on your mom, but her choosing to keep your dad from playing a meaningful role in your life must have screamed to you that fathers were optional. And if your own father is optional, then how could you not be as well? But nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are you not optional, you are absolutely essential.