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Race Status in America 2020

Updated on April 3, 2020
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Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. As of 2/2020, Jack has over 100,000 views.

Painting by Norman Rockwell (1961)
Painting by Norman Rockwell (1961)

Introduction

I am writing this article and realizing it is a very controversial topic. Therefore, I need to be very precise in my language. I don't want to have any misunderstanding between the reader and me. Any mistake, even non intentional, will have devastating results. I want to establish a dialog and not create more dissension. I am presenting a personal view based on living here for over 50 years. If I am wrong, I want to know it and be corrected. I am writing this opinion piece and want to explain my views clearly and precisely. If there is any confusion, please ask questions. Don't make assumption about me or my views which is not written here in black and white.

- April 2020

Background

This article is aimed at some of my colleagues. It is the result of numerous email discussions between my colleagues and myself. We have very different views on race in America today. By the way, when I say race relations, it applies not only to black and white, but Asian, and Hispanic and any other racial groups. To me, we are all part of the human race, but we are grouped by our skin color. It is the first thing we see and noticed when we meet a new person. Once we start a conversation, we learn more about each other and we can choose to like or dislike that person based on those other information. We don't want to prejudge someone based strictly on their skin color.

In our many discussions and debates back and forth, it is clear to me that my colleagues and I live in different worlds. Even though we share some same experiences, growing up in NYC, attending public schools, and later going to the same college and being on the same Varsity team, we ended up in different careers.

We moved and lived in different parts of our country. We have very different experiences both at work and at leisure and among our friends and relatives and colleagues and community.

Our opinions are shaped by those experiences.

The other difference is our own attitudes. I have a more optimistic view while my colleagues are more pessimistic on race related matters. This is obvious a personal observation and prone to bias. Everyone wants to think of themselves in a positive light. I am no different. The one thing I will stress is that I was never obsessed with race. I never look through a racial lens. With every incident, I judge based on the evidence at hand and not be persuaded by activist groups. Not that they are wrong but they tend to sensationalize an incident that makes it more than what it appears.

If they only stick with the cases that do have racial components, I would be more sympathetic to their message. There are cases that are legitimate and God knows they do exists but they are the exception and not the rule.

Racism Defined

I think one of the confusion is our definition of what is considered racist. Let us define it once and for all. You may disagree with my definition and it is open to debate but we have to start from some common understanding.

Racism is using the color of one's skin to determine or judge that person in relations to his character, his job performance, his intelligence or his morality...

We also use the term discrimination in a specific manner. Discrimination is just a word that describe a choice or a preference.By itself, it is a good trait. We survive by knowing how to discriminate between what is good and what is harmful. It only becomes a negative connotation when applied to race or religion or sexual orientation when we discriminate against a group based solely on those attributes in reference to a getting job, or obtaining housing or even shopping in a mall.

Racism is an attitude. It can lead to crime but not necessarily. A person can think a certain way about another group but that in itself is not a crime. It is just bigotry or stupidity or lack of education. It becomes illegal when one acts on those belief. That is when it crosses over into being a hate crime.

Our Constitution guarantees certain freedom for each citizen. We are free to speak our mind even when that speech is not the most popular or conventional. This is crucial to understanding our system of government. It is what separate us from all other form of government. Hate speech, though it may be heinous, is not illegal. It only becomes illegal when a crime is committed.

Therefore, there are two forms of racism. A systemic or institutional racism and a personal racist beliefs. The systemic racism is what can be corrected by laws and regulations and for the most part have been addressed down through the years. The second form is harder to address. It requires education, and public shaming and other means to minimize but in my opinion can never be irradiated.

For the purpose of this discussion, I am only addressing systemic racism as defined.

The Main Source of Contention

The problem is actually very simple. It comes down to one question.

Is America still a racist nation?

We had a long history. We fought a civil war to end slavery.

We have the civil rights movement...

We have past many legislations and Amended the Constitution.

We invited immigrants from all over the world to come here and join us in forming that more perfect union.

Yet, under all that, some are not satisfied. They say "we were never that great..."

They say we don't deserve our wealth and prosperity, it was stolen.

They say we are arrogant.

They say we are the cause of some of the worlds problems.

They say if we only join the UN and support the World Organization, the world will be a better place.

They say we are destroying our planet with our excesses, use of fossil fuel...building nuclear arsenal...

They say Capitalism is greed and lead to income inequality.

They say our Constitution is flawed and obsolete.

My Response...

I summarized the point of contention between my colleagues and me. If I miss spoke or if I took their words out of context, or if I made an error, I am open to any correction or explanation. I will make the necessary edits. I want this article to be an accurate description of their view points. It is not just my opinion that counts. This is a discussion of the various view points and let the reader decide. In order to be fair, I am open to any corrections for the record. It can be as simple as a refutation of my statement above and replacing it with a better description of your views.

It may turn out that we may just have a miss communication. We really agree and just have a slightly different interpretation. That would be great. We can clear that up easily.

Even though we disagree on some of the main points, we may still have common grounds. It is highly unlikely that we disagree on all issues. If we have common ground, I like to highlight those as well.

My View on Race in America in 2020

I believe we are no longer a racist nation. We have done the hard work, passed legislations, amended our Constitution and issued regulations at the local level, to remove discrimination. That is not to say we don't have any discrimination left. We made it a crime and when it occurs, we have a legal path to obtain justice.

I like to use murder as an example. Murder or manslaughter is a crime. It is against God's law and against human laws. Yet, there is still a small population that engages in it. For whatever reason, mental instability, or passion or criminal related, some people will commit murder. There is no law we can add that will eliminate murder from our society. The same applies to bigotry and individual racism.

That is not to say we can't do anything more. We can educate our youths better. We can use public shaming as they did in the olden days. We can use PSA to disseminate the message. Our culture and movies and music and arts can assist in that education. In addition, our media can play their part and report on incidents accurately and not blow things out of proportion for sensationalizing an incident. There is one area we can't affect and that is in the homes. We are a free society. We are not North Korea. We cannot just lock up someone for thinking or teaching hate to their kids inside their homes. That is our dilemma.

We cannot lock up people who have some mental imbalance. We can only intervene once they committed a crime but not before. Their family members has to play a role to monitor their behavior and stop them or precent them from acting out.

What we shouldn't do is paint the whole country with a broad brush. We are 330 million people. We all have various experiences. We have different faiths, and believes. We need to live together and share in our community. This only happens when we have a common culture. Not that we should all belief in the same religion or follow the same traditions. We need a common culture where we all understand our civics, our history and our government. This is how we propagate our system forward into future generations. That is our duty. Support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We start by teaching it to every citizen.

Summary

So, where are we today? 57 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his infamous speech "I have a Dream"...are we any closer to the fulfillment of that dream? If not, what are the stumbling blocks left? Are we 50%, 75% or 90% there? What will have to happen to get us there to the Promise Land? Is it up to individuals, or government or both to attain that? Or is it up to God in his infinite wisdom to lead us to where we need to go. After all, He made us in His own image. We are human and we are imperfect. Till we all reach Heaven, we cannot reach perfection, no matter how hard we try.

Please take a minute and vote in the following poll.

Postscript - A Breakthrough Perhaps...4/3/2020

Here is his definition of "color blind" from one of my colleagues.

But when “a person says that they are colorblind, to me that means they are blind to racism, and they're blind to differences," Kendi told me. People who say they don't see race are, "not seeing the diversity of humanity, whether that diversity is about skin color, or hair texture, or culture."


Here is my response to him:

Color blind to me means not judging people by the color of their skin only. Like Lady Justice, how she decide on the legal case, wearing a blinder. I see plenty of color and diversity. I don't make excuses or use it to influence my thinking. I see each person as an individual with all their good and warts...I make determination based on a great principle of equality, recognizing we all have faults and biases and failings. That is the Christian view.

The Last Straw...

Just yesterday, I had another exchange with one of my colleague. It started simple enough when I sent this group a link to a story about someone came up with a new idea to use 3D printers to make reusable N95 masks. I added a simple statement of See what American ingenuity have done...

This one phrase, cause this one individual conniptions. Given our previous discussion and disagreement over race and American exceptionalism. He sent me a long email in response calling me names...

I asked him what was so offensive about my email.

He replied in CAPS because it was me saying it...knowing who I am...

This was the straw that made me realize we are not speaking in the same language or even in the same universe.

I decided to end our discussion. There are no more words to explain it.


A non-scientific poll

What do you think is the race condition in America today?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jack Lee

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