There are no easy solutions to America’s racial hostility. The problem is too complex, too stubborn. But something has to be done. And the sooner we get started the better.
It is simply intolerable for law officers to gun down unarmed black men with little or no justification. This is a national emergency.
There are some things that can be done now to ease the tension. To me, one of the most obvious examples at this time is release of that North Carolina video.
Let the whole world see what happened – or as much of what happened as possible.
Calling out the National Guard and imposing a curfew in Charlotte are counter-productive. Tanks do not belong on the streets of an American city. This is not China.
The protests might be suppressed, but the resentment will only be intensified.
There’s a long history behind the profiling and fear that trigger police shootings. Basically, it stems from a culture that has demonized the black male, portraying him as a monster to be feared and shunned. That is not only egregiously unjust but tragically misguided.
I don’t think committees or task forces will come up with permanent answers. They might produce some temporary salve to maintain a fragile peace. But old wounds will still fester. A cure must come from the deepest roots of American society, and from the American people themselves.
Coming to America from Canada and Jamaica, I think I can identify one glaring cause of the racial divide – unfamiliarity.
I was amazed to find, for example, that there are “black” and “white” churches in America! And while residential areas and schools are supposedly integrated, the races do not intermingle as much as I am used to seeing.
There are few black families in white neighborhoods – and vice versa. In the schools, black and white children tend to form separate groups. Even the teachers often tend to socialize along racial lines.
This is a natural instinct. And it is not peculiarly American.
In Toronto, I saw the Italians, the Chinese, the Ukrainians and so on taking over different neighborhoods. The city is more of a mosaic than a melting pot.
But the separation seems more rigid in America.
I don’t think this can ever be a peaceful society as long as different ethnic groups view each other from a distance. There must be day-to-day interaction and cooperation..
How do “the powers that be” make this happen? I really don’t know, but I know they are going to have to find out. And fast.
(In the photo above, protesters are shown blocking the road in front of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. last night.)