Whites, do you ever speak glowingly of black scientists, educators and businessmen — or is it just athletes and movie stars? Blacks, are there any Caucasians you admire besides politicians who pander for your vote?
It may seem silly, but try honing your descriptive skills. Adopt a habit of identifying a person in a group using characteristics other than race. “The white dude” or “the black woman” does not have to be your first impulse.
Can the races learn to appreciate one another’s cuisine, fashion, slang, media, hobbies, values and companionship without fear of ostracism? Can we condemn pejoratives such as “(N-word) lover” and “Uncle Tom” to the dust heap of history?
If a few more of us could rise to the occasion of being potential “buddies,” Dr. King’s dream of harmony and equality could come even closer to fruition.
But it will require the courage to disavow the worst elements of your own race, whether it be the redneck who jokes about lynchings or the African-American who gloats over the stores he’s going to loot if the verdict in a racially charged case doesn’t go his way.
If we feel obligated and duty-bound to cheer on (or at least tolerate) the walking, talking stereotypes among us, such as the “blacks can apply, but...” Human Resources director or the swaggering, Ebonics-spewing, welfare-cheating gang leader wannabe, we’re all still in a form of slavery.
This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.