As I read this article I fit the bill. I became defensive. I formulated arguments in my mind to counteract statements made in the piece. Then I read this:
“The reality of America is that White people are fundamentally good, and so when a white person commits a crime, it is a sign that they, as an individual, are bad. Their actions as a person are not indicative of any broader social construct. Even the fact that America has a growing number of violent hate groups, populated mostly by white men, and that nearly *all* serial killers are white men can not shadow the fundamental truth of white male goodness. In fact, we like White serial killers so much, we make mini-series about them.”
I felt for a moment that a door opened. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I saw my own racism. When a black teen commits a crime I see him as a type, a part of a whole. A white teen? I consider the cause — perhaps he was abused as a child; his mother might have consumed alcohol during the pregnancy; he may have been bullied.
I look at the white teen as an individual; not so the black teen. As a white man I consider myself an individual. For the love of God, we worship rugged individualism in this society. But I don’t extend that to whole segments of society. This from a man raised in a liberal, integrated community. This from a man who has volunteered for years in a community shelter housing minorities. This from a man who believes in Jesus.
I hope the door opens wider. But I do, in some way, wish that with trepidation. I’m already uncomfortable. Let’s just get it done.