“There are no winners in war and the only right side to take is the one where humanity stands.” -Kenneth Nguyen
The war waged against black boys will not win. However, the cultural fabric of America of which racism is so strategically interwoven, poses a threat not only to black people but to humanity. Which leads me to the question: Will humanity ever reign supreme?
The pattern of actions that have resulted in the killing of our black boys led me to think about the cognitive processes behind these acts because our thoughts manifest our actions. We have placed much emphasis on the nature of the acts itself yet more dangerous is the force behind them, that continues to rage on without interruption. Cognition is powerful and our thoughts and our judgements are not exempt from being infallible. As classical pragmatist C.S. Pierce put it “the critical self plays a corrective role in guiding conduct.”
As we entertain the malarkey of the media and the government the real conversation, (yes I said conversation) is yet to be had. In the meantime time flees, lives are lost and the potential to truly arrive at a place of compassion and love for one another escapes us with the disillusion of time. We are tricked into thinking that simply because time has passed things have changed. Racism can be eradicated, and it only exists because we want it to. How can our actions change when we haven’t thoroughly explored the thought processes behind them? We simply cannot improve the human condition if we are not willing to talk about our mistakes. Yet how can people learn from their mistakes if there is no consequence, as was witnessed with the case of George Zimmerman?
“We want to believe that we are not prisoners of our ethnic histories” wrote Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers. Yet it is these histories and mentalities that act as the glue to keep in place the xenophobia that this country was built on. Historically speaking racism in America was more blatant, and I would even argue more honest. Those who do not “see color” or believe racism does not exist threaten to keep us steeped in the underlying racial tension that brew in our everyday lives, and subsequently, rob us of the honesty we owe each other in candid conversations about race. We can try to deceive one another but the truth about how we really feel and who we really are will be displayed in our actions, at some point, as was proved in Ferguson and other cities in America. The Mike Brown case and the debauchery that surrounds it further exposes the depths to which racism runs in this country, that even or especially even those who are appointed to protect and serve devalue black human beings. They are the ones trapped however, prisoners of their own prejudice and harmful perceptions of others.
We can and should look to the past for context to our present situation but we must look to the future to see where we are going. The bigger question is do we wish to move forward or remain prisoners to our ethnic histories in this country? Talking to one another across cultures not just within our own ethnicities will require stepping out of our comfort zone. Change can happen if we engineer it. It is our moral obligation to lay the foundation for a more promising future. And to do so we have to treat the future as open ended; as something that has no limits, allowing for change or else our doubts will dictate our actions causing a self-fulfilling prophecy and racism and the uneasiness that lingers with it will endure. The power lies in our cognition.