Because of COVID-19 descending upon us and forcing us to socially distance, all of our usual activities, from dining out, hanging out with friends, exploring different neighborhoods, going to theater, and travel have come to an abrupt halt. With all this extra time on my hands, not only am I cooking, filming, and video editing more, but I’m also doing a lot more reading. Given the recent instances of racial injustice in the last few weeks along with the protests and ongoing conversations of racial injustice at work, I thought it would be a fitting time to bring Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to be an Anti-Racist to the top of my list. I finished reading that a few days ago on my Kindle. To balance all these serious topics that require a lot of re-reading and contemplation, I nestled Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel mystery/drama novel in here, especially since it has unlimited borrows on the Libby app via the New York Public Library since it’s the Book of the Month. It’s been good to get absorbed into a fun novel that has a dramatic story line that doesn’t require a lot of self-introspection. But on my walks, I’ve saved Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility for listening.
One of the things I had to noodle over for a while, which I guess I have not been very analytical in breaking down, is that she suggests that the current day denial that racism exists, the insistence that we live in a “color-blind” world where people “do not see color,” actually originates from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he said that he hoped that one day, he and his children could live in world where they could be judged for their actions and not based on the color of their skin. White people basically took this part of his speech, twisted it, and transformed it into, “I no longer see color. Therefore, I am not racist and cannot be accused of being racist.” Wow, that was an incredible and screwed up interpretation and turn of events! These same people carry “white fragility” and insist that the people who bring up race or talk about race “think everything is about race, the people who bring up race “are actually the ones who are racist.”
So, I didn’t know MLK, and I obviously never had a conversation with him, but I have a strong feeling that he didn’t advocate for people lying to themselves and the world that they are colorblind and thus BLIND to the differences of people and do not understand socialization. Nor do I think he advocated for the denial of racism or inequality existing. Why are people so terrible?