Having a dialog about race … again

[Editor’s note: This column was submitted July 13, before the murders of three police officers and the death of the shooter July 17 in Baton Rouge, La.]

The sentiments I now write, I believe, represent the “invisible plurality” within the black community.

We are tired of the race-baiting and the negative images of black people every time the media decides to focus on the “race issue.” Blacks are typically portrayed monolithically — either the victims of racial injustice, or are responding with violence to racial injustice.

It troubles me that pundits representing the black community are virtually all Democrats whose answers to this violence is a “dialog,” which is really a rant to assert that America is a racist nation, and make white people feel guilty about their “white privilege.”

Additionally, these pundits seem to always advocate for some type of government regulation, rather than address how to eliminate prejudices that all of us may have been guilty of, or are capable of. All of this causes me to question the motives behind the “race issue” in our country.

As a black American, I feel blessed to live in this country. I am surrounded by loving family and friends and live in a “nice neighborhood.” Yet, not a month goes by without an incident involving my race occurs to either myself or a member of my family.

Sometimes it is blatant — like my daughter hearing people at her school make stereotypical comments about blacks, or the time when I was pulled over due to “suspicion,” was intimidated by four police cars surrounding me and was eventually let go without given a ticket or an explanation of why I was stopped in the first place.

Sometimes it is subtle — like when we receive sub-standard service in a retail or eating establishment yet others around us are not.

However, my response is not to protest, nor do I assume that such incidences are systemic of me being a second-class citizen in a racist America, as I hear insinuated by racial pundits and those in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Unlike the Rev. Dr. King, who pointed to specific laws and actions that were unconstitutional and called our nation’s leaders and the collective consciousness of citizens to account, groups like BLM seem only to point to statistical inequities as their evidence of systemic racial injustice.

And the media is all too willing to feed that narrative. In their supposed role of reporting the news as a “check” on government entities, they willingly disparage and hold accountable our entire police and judicial system.

They validate the bullying tactics of race-mongers who demonize the cops, and lionize the black person, regardless of the evidence.

In fact, this “knee-jerk” reaction has almost become a conscious distraction from questions that could lead to real solutions for racial matters.

What about the fact that it is within predominantly black-controlled and Democratic districts that we find the most violence against blacks, the greatest economic disparity, and under-performing schools?

All of these aren’t because there are a handful of “racist” cops out there. Shouldn’t the fact that our black communities often embrace a culture and political ideology that is destructive be part of the conversation?

It seems to me that racial pundits are being willingly obtuse when they don’t consider this. Isn’t it ironic, for example, that advertising companies can pay millions for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl, expecting that this brief exposure will influence the audience’s behavior, yet racial pundits apparently do not see that the promotion of sexual promiscuity, disrespectful behavior towards authorities, glorification of “thug life,” the normalization of absentee fathers, and promotion of women “not needing a man” is having a devastating influence on black families and lives?

These negative cultural stereotypes are eroding the vitality of our once proud and thriving black communities, and are a cancer to our society. Given how prevalent these loss of black lives are, should this not also be a part of the conversation? Or, are we only going to frame the “discussion” around issues that promote specific socio-political issues/agendas?

At the end of the day, the racially charged incidences of the last few weeks involve the tragic deaths of seven people (two black and five white) and were committed by individuals. Yet, it has been the focus of the media and millions in America for days.

Us (meaning black people) acting crazy does not engender respect or regard by our fellow man to our cause. It either causes them to look at us as victims, pitiable, or with contempt. It does not change racist sentiments that may reside in one’s heart. Such sentiments can only be removed by acts of kindness, and competence.

And while it may sound harsh, I feel like the black experience is being exploited, and our nation is being emotionally manipulated. If the point of all this unrest is to actually resolve these issues, shouldn’t we address the motives of these individuals (which we don’t know in full yet — except for the Dallas sniper, who had racist motives) and rightly label the problem?

To move forward, we must admit that this is primarily a heart issue, admit our own tendencies to discriminate, ask for forgiveness, live by the golden rule, and focus on eliminating the destructive elements of our culture that are fueling these tragedies.

However, since we are not even discussing how to eliminate the malignancy of racism within the human heart, the obvious question ought to be, why is this race issue being raised yet again, and why now?

Could it be to divert our attention to socio-political issues that are advantageous to a political party? Is it intended to further divide our country and destroy us from the inside out? Is it to give us a reprieve from the presidential slugfest?

Is it to distract us from the repeated lies and deceptions made by the Democratic presidential nominee? Is it to sideline the bombastic statements made by the Republican presidential nominee? Or, is it to hide the economic and foreign policy failures of the administration, and its inability to prevent terrorists’ attacks? One has to wonder.

[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]