Thursday, April 3, 2014

Race in America: An Update

Race and the persistence and extent of racial prejudice continue to be subjects of disagreement in the United States (at least, between members of different races).  One of the most eye-opening viewpoints I experienced as a child appeared in Black Like Me, whose white author John Howard Griffin used dermatological interventions to pass as black in the Deep South and kept a diary.  When a white man's framework for normalcy is applied to the daily life of a black man, a real opportunity exists to assess differences, their extent, and their personal impact.  The book is a must-read for anyone interested in race in America.

Black Like Me wasn't written this century, however.  "It's not like that anymore" – ever hear that one?  Is it true?  Surely the extent to which it reflects local experience changes with time and geography.  A recent report from New York City is educational: The Atlantic published a white man's thoughts about his observations of his own black son growing up in America.

It's worth having a look.  The Emancipation Proclamation sounded great but is insufficient to the ideals behind it.  When I think about Chris Smith's son, I think about the child I imagined in the last-linked article: "Are we free yet?"