Writing at Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Ibram X. Kendi, assistant professor at University at Albany, SUNY, challenges an argument by Republicans that “racism talk breeds disunity,” which has been put forth in the weeks since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. It is actually their dogma that is at the root of the problem, he argues.
Conservatives say racism talk is breeding disunity, disunity between the races. It is driving the races apart. Racism is not causing disunity. It is talk of racism causing disunity, they say.
This is their common comeback to Americans protesting against [George] Zimmerman, the verdict, and mass incarceration. Time and time again over the last two months, the anti-Zimmerman protesters have been labeled racist, are told they are polarizing America…
The abuse, the racism, must be voiced and discussed, no matter how hard, no matter who is alienated. When conservatives say those voices are causing disunity, there is no reason to deny the truth. In fact, it has always been true. During slavery, slaveholders told abolitionists their voices were breeding disunity. And they were. During the Jim Crow era, segregationists told Martin Luther King Jr. his voice was breeding disunity. And it was. Racism talk still breeds disunity.
Our response today has to be the same it has always been: We prefer a “positive peace which is the presence of justice” to a “negative peace which is the absence of tension,” as King wrote in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, a few months before the March on Washington.
Read Ibram X. Kendi‘s entire piece at Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
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