In its heart I do not believe humanity wants to be racist, and in the US we have been on a long journey — definable in centuries — proving just how not racist we are. Electing a black man as president is among the civic actions writ large we have taken that show what we are capable of as a society. But while the congress may establish amendments against slavery, and we may vote as a society in ways that show our anti-racist nature, I think we are still inadvertently very racist. And now we are reacting to the fact that we have allowed a facet of society to continue to get away with racism.
Just the racial profiling numbers alone prove this. The amazing disparity of justice in these, thankfully so much in the public eye, is concrete evidence that we do not judge all human lives the same. But most of those real human-to-human interactions that get counted up into stats do not, I believe, represent what our true natures would want. The cold, hard fact, however, is that they represent a racist behavior that society has permitted to take root despite the last several hundred years of fight. And they perhaps represent just the tip of unwitting racism, the kind that any group unknowingly has toward any other group that it does not have enough experience of.
We can see this hopefully unwitting racism only because we can collect statistics on it. As a result, it becomes no longer unwitting, and our eyebrows go up. With all of our progress in anti-racism, these numbers surely should prompt one to wonder what’s going on. This country is capable of taking monumentally brave actions that change the face of society altogether, so why is no one apparently held liable ever for the disturbing consequences of racial profiling, or for the killing of unarmed blacks?
I think that society has reached the point where we the people want more accountability than we’ve been getting. We elect those in charge, and through our democratic process we make the rules, so governance should reflect us. However, we are now at a difficult point in our racial evolution where we don’t want to believe what we see ourselves doing. This is because we are being racist while at the same time we believe that by the start of the third millennium we should be leaving racism behind.
Society is at a new point in racial evolution, having a very hard time making sense of how its anti-racists stance actually lines up with its own rules. This is especially true in the big roles played by our legal system and police. As far as authority is concerned, what we seem to be seeing these days is that, instead of being elected into representation of our true selves — and so reflecting our better natures — our officials (and their appointees such as judges, the police, grand juries, and the like) are elected into untouchable and sovereign authority that we would not intend. They seem to be able to do whatever they want.
This is because, when confronted, we would want those who seem to unnecessarily take lives to have to face consequences. We think, for example, that there must be something wrong with choking a person to death for selling cigarettes. But it seems the white killer is always capable not only of exoneration, but, because he is one of our officials, of exoneration with impunity. Pretty much every member of our society is probably scratching his or her head and wondering if it is possible that, for the foreseeable future, every case of “unarmed black person killed” by armed white vigilante or by white police ends with no liability on the part the killer.
I think as society examines such lopsided accountability, we will find that those we have put in charge cannot be expected to change it because any change is unlikely to give them a better outcome. We seem to be stuck, at an impasse where the officials we have put in charge appear to get away with a racist program that runs against our national progress and differs from our personal beliefs, and we no longer want them to. I think this is the system that we have put in place in this country, and unless I am misreading the public outcry, many people think the system should be changed. And so I ask, what counter can society bring against such a system?