“White people are more likely to be optimistic than black people about the progress toward racial equality in America,” says Howard Ross of Cook Ross, a diversity consulting firm in Maryland in a review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new book, Between the World and Me.  “It is a far easier perspective to take when your people are not the ones who have been enslaved, lynched, discriminated against, incarcerated, and shot down in the streets by policemen, the enforcers of a culture that, at every turn, has treated you as ‘less than.’”
“We can afford to applaud the good works of some, even though they touch only a tiny percentage of those who are suffering, when we are not the ones left suffering,” Ross says. “When even those who “make it” suffer indignities that no one else has had to suffer before, as when a President of the United States is the subject of active attempts at humiliation, or the greatest tennis player of her time is called “too aggressive,” or when hundreds of studies show that we still subtly exhibit bias in every area of life. It is natural for those in the dominant group to see incidents. Those who are impacted see an entire system that is designed to undermine them in every way.”
Ross does not call for whites to feel shame or guilt. Merely, he says, admit that whites cannot possibly understand the black experience and that we are all part of a system “that is bigger than any of us.”
Writes Ross: “We can realize that there is much we do not know, and far more that we will never really feel about each other. We can, perhaps, get to know ourselves at a deeper level and work each day to be present to the legacy that we are. I will never give up hope that we can someday get closer to that dream. That, as Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. But I can afford that hope. I am white.”
Here is the link to Ross’s complete text.
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