February 22, 2004

Debra Dickerson Interview

Debra Dickerson, author, editor and columnist is interviewed by Jamie Glazov at Front Page Magazine, and talks candidly and inspirationally about the condition of blacks and race relations in America. The excerpts can't do justice to her message, so do read it all. On the unease felt by blacks living in a society in which appearances don't match the realities of a lingering racism:

"Blacks are experiencing a sort of disequilibrium brought about by freedom while so much injustice remains enshrined and circumscribes their options. There is so much bitterness and disappointment that, to us, the racism still seems so obvious yet white people walk around free and unrepentant. Too many of us are caught up in the "aha!” syndrome. We think if we just track down every scowl, every missed promotion, every clutched purse, eventually we’ll have evidence to get whites on the witness stand, forced to admit their racism, and apologize. Because that’s what we really want. Few of us will admit it, but we want atonement. We want whites to feel bad about themselves, for a change. Not only is that never going to happen, it doesn’t need to happen."

Dickerson doesn't minimize white racism, but acknowledges that it's not what it was 40 years ago. She insists that the continued existence of racism doesn't excuse blacks from accountability...

Blacks tend to believe that while the outrages against us continue – unequal funding of schools, police predations, etc. – that we can not be taken to task for our own misdeeds. It’s the same outrage many Americans exhibit when undue attention seems to be paid to the rights of criminals. To some black minds, America is so racist against us, how dare it criticize us, how dare it make demands of us. Any good behavior on our part is gravy, something America doesn’t deserve and should be grateful for. This is a seductive line of reasoning (that is almost always subconscious) but a destructive one. To be free, one must act free, like the Tuskeegee Airmen, like Dr. King, like Frederick Douglass. They weren’t responsible for racism, just for their responses to it.

They understood that nothing absolved them of the requirement to answer for their own behavior. But we’ve lost the kind of leadership that reminds us that our fight is against injustice, not against whites or against America. We shouldn’t be trying to become the new oppressors, but the drum majors for justice.

Ms. Dickerson, you are that leadership. I'm buying the book for starters.

Posted by dan at February 22, 2004 2:03 AM