When it comes to the issue of racism in America, I keep hearing people talking about “keeping the discussion going”. Why is it, I wondered, that this irritates me?
Everybody’s got an opinion and we should be at least somewhat polite about giving them a chance to express themselves, but consider this. Black families have been having discussions about racism around their dinner tables long before and ever since the first Juneteenth. They know American history and the challenges faced by Black Americans and they taught their children. They also analyzed systems – the voting system, the legal systems, the education systems, financial systems. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that when it came time to make recommendations to clean up police departments, they were ready with solutions.
Republican leaders tend to respond to the problem of police violence against black citizens as though it has just started. They want to have a discussion before coming up with solutions. It is a though they’ve been sleeping in class and they just heard the teacher say, “I want you to write a report on what we’ve been discussing and hand it in to me tomorrow.” First let’s have a discussion!
Black leaders can lay reasonable plans right out on the table because they’ve hashed out all the ins and outs already. If you want to know whether something will work, they can tell you the places where it has been tried and the outcomes, statistics and all. Our leaders need to listen and seriously consider.
I heard a woman today say something that nailed it for me. She said, “Sometimes discussions are more performative than informative.” Exactly!