Who's Up for a National Talk on Race? No One

All of us practice deliberate denial about race. So why have a dialogue no one is ready for?

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Blacks, too, practice deliberate denial about racial issues. Some of us don't like to admit that way too many of our communities are plagued by self-defeating behavior that would not disappear if every vestige of white racism were abolished. White people are not the cause of all our problems, but you'd never know that if you listened to some of the talk at the barbershop.

The sad truth is that we've been having a national conversation about race since before the nation was founded. There are few topics, except maybe sports and sex, that obsess us as much.

But there's a reason that all this yakking hasn't yielded more in the way of understanding and racial justice -- and it's not black denial. It's too many white people's lack of candor. A lot of them don't like to admit the advantage they still enjoy because of their color. Too many of them, like the editorialist at the Times-Dispatch, prefer to whitewash the facts because telling the truth about racial injustice would oblige them to do something about it. Until more of them are ready to do that, there's not much to talk about.

Jack White, a former columnist for Time magazine, is a freelance writer in Richmond, Va., and a contributing editor at The Root.

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is a former columnist for TIME magazine and a regular contributor to The Root.