Thursday, July 19, 2007

The panel effect

I came across this tidbit while reading about Micheal Vick's legal issues. As an aside, I have had my doubts about his ability as a QB ever since he was drafted. San Diego traded the first pick to Atlanta and spent their pick on RB Tomlinson and their second pick on QB Drew Brees. Last year these two lead their respective teams (Brees with the Saints) to the conference championship games. And both are classy guys from all accounts.

But that isn't my gist here. This author is contending on the race issue, that whites will have already convicted the bum and that blacks will claim he was framed no matter what the evidence. In a sense, we are all just bigots. In some generalities, he makes a point.
Like most African-Americans, I have seen my share of hatred, but one of the more stunning incidents was not being called a name or being subjected to a double standard. It occurred in the presence of an extremely kind white woman.

While participating in a wonderful series of multi-ethnic panel discussions several years ago called "Conversations on Race," a highly educated, middle-aged white woman began talking about her love of dogs. I remarked I've owned dogs my entire life and could not imagine living without one.

She replied: "I didn't know black people owned dogs."

I responded: "What do you think we do? Eat them?"

She apologized, but the moment was not lost on every black person in the room. If such an intelligent woman who had spent a large chunk of her life around black people could form such a crude thought, what do other whites, less educated, less exposed to a multicultural environment, think?
Thus we have the results of academia and multi-ethnic panel discussions. In many ways, the people speaking at these events are the biggest racists around. They focus on what divides and continue to infect the old wound. Like the child told to "vent his anger", their focus on themselves and what was wrong allows for little healing and progress.

True progress will be made when panel discussions are history and we realize people are different, but that doesn't make them bad or scary. Just different, but human, that's all.

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