Continuing the Talk about Equality and Justice

I know, I intimated last week that I was going to talk about sex, and here I am, post 3 for 3 this week talking about race instead.

My family motto (and I mean me, Dan, and the kids) is: All things are subject to change at any time.

On Monday, I wrote, in brief, about the equality gap. And that’s my take, overall, that that’s the real challenge we are facing in America. On Tuesday, I linked to a bunch of people who said it a lot better than I did.

Today, Pittsburgh bloggers are publishing more thoughts about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. I’ll be reading most of them, and commenting on those I can, and I hope you will too.

It’s important to talk about this.

Overt racism, although it still exists, is not the bigger problem. Systemic, institutionalized racism, the inequality of our criminal justice system, the economic and class system America still supports — these are the deeper issues. These are the areas that need to be addressed, need to (still) be redressed.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act. They didn’t strike it down because it wasn’t needed anymore, and they didn’t strike it down because it was wholly unconstitutional. They struck it down because it was applied across the states unevenly. That is, more states South of the Mason-Dixon line got more federal scrutiny that most other states (because they had a proven poor record of letting blacks vote).

The Supreme Court said, We can’t uphold this, and Congress needs to rewrite it so it applies to every state the same way. We can’t target anyone.

And in the meantime, lots of states, Pennsylvania included, dusted off their Voter ID laws to get them moving through state legislatures again.

Disenfranchisement is disenfranchisement, folks. If it’s the law of the land that “those people” can’t vote, then it’s a law for a reason. If a generation — another generation — internalizes that black skin is suspicious, that Hispanics are lazy, that American Indians are drunks (do I have my stereotypes right there?) — then my generation of parents will have failed.

And if we don’t speak out about Trayvon Martin getting shot, about the Voting Rights Act getting struck down, about sexism in the military, about gun control, about gay rights, then we aren’t doing our job. As parents, as decent people.

I really believe that.

Oh, and on another note, and something I’ve been wrestling with this week: Dan and I don’t have any black friends. It’s been bothering us, mostly because we’ve had black friends in the past (and not like the token black friend — actual friends). I have some online acquaintances of different colors and races, but most of the people I socialize with are white.

This was especially brought home to me recently when my younger daughter referred to one of my friends as my brown friend. She (my friend) is of Sicilian descent, and somewhat tan.

And thinking this way: is it in itself racist? I understand why I don’t have black friends at this time. I live in a suburb. I send my kids to a private school. Compared to the public schools in our district, the school is not wildly diverse — it’s not 100% white, either, nor would I want it to be that way.

So I wonder about this, and then I wonder about making black friends, and then I wonder if that looks like I’m looking for a token black friend, and then I’m all like, “Isn’t this line of thought in itself racist?”

You see what we’re up against here, talking about race. It feels to me like I’m talking the talk but not walking the walk. I’m not sure how to change that right now.

Anyway, go and read. Express your thoughts. (Go see Becky at lilburghers.com. She’s got a link to all the posts. I’m not tech saavy enough to load it here for some reason.)

I always say, if we were all the same, life would be boring.

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