Conducting relationships across races
How should a black person relate with a white person?
Today, black people are living with, and often burdened by, the legacy of slavery that existed for 246 years and the legal segregation that existed for 100 years. The black experience during that three-and-one-half centuries entailed an estimated millions of Africans who during the Middle Passage jumped ship rather than become slaves; and many who, after becoming sick, were thrown overboard by slave navigators. It included lynchings, disenfranchisement in the South, and denial of access to public accommodations and opportunities that were readily available to white people: the right to attend most state universities and employment for most jobs in city, county and state governments to which they nonetheless paid taxes.
Living with this legacy in the 21st century, how should a black person relate with a white person? This is my prescription:
» Don’t blame the white person you encounter for slavery and racist practices of his ancestors He or she did not have anything do with ancestors enslaving black people or creating a racist system.
» Recognize that white privilege and systemic racism exist today. Whites have advantages denied blacks for no other reason than they are white. Because racism is systemic in society, a white person opposing racism has to buck the system
» Acknowledge and greet the white person encountered with cordiality. Should he or she respond likewise, respect the person’s humanity and when possible unite in working to minimize or eradicate injustice. Should he or she not respond respectfully, maintain your cordiality and stand inviolate in your integrity, which is different from standing your ground but includes standing your ground when warranted.
» Express love toward and with white people, individually and collectively. Remember, love has power to change the hearts of people and it returns to the lover better than it was before it was extended.
A black person should require of the white person he claims as a comrade that he act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.
Uriah J. Fields