I continue to process the results of the presidential election and the bevy of news releases, articles and commentary on its meaning. I have come to believe that we are a nation hopelessly divided in many ways. The critical question is: "Is there a way to have a meaningful conversation, dialogue or discussion about the underlying root causes of this division?" Are there ways to close this divide?
Or are we, one nation, hopelessly divided?
Can we seek solutions that are mutually respectful of the differences that the growing diversity of Americans bring to the table? Or are we so entrenched in our narrow-minded world views that discussion and dialogue is meaningless, futile and a waste of time?
I watched and rewatched the discussion that news commentator, Roland Martin recent had with Richard Spencer, a self proclaimed white nationalist. It was disheartening to see how entrenched Spencer's views on a variety of topics ranging from his "whiteness" to issues related to affirmative action and "who built America" as Roland hammered away at him with deeply penetrating questions grounded in facts. What was encouraging, in spite of Spencer's positions on race and other issues, was the fact that this interview even took place. What continues to be disappointing is the wanton disregard for facts and the truth.
I was left with a deep sense of void and invalidation about who we are as a nation in Spencer's remarks. He could not see the value of diversity. He did not embrace inclusion. He felt convinced that America was built simply on the brilliance of white people, not on the backs and efforts of generations and generations of slaves and people of color. He left me feeling less than tolerated and with a sense that this country was built for white people, and no one else. He negated the fact this this country was occupied by native Americans prior to his ancestors arrival.
Earlier in the week I read a blog shared by a colleague from someone who spoke of being racist. In the blog the writer professed to the typical behaviors and world views of one who espouses such notions. He described his behavior as like a sickness that one tries to over come, not a badge of honor. Yet as watch TV and read articles of racist behavior rapidly increasing in our schools, communities and workplaces, I am left to wonder whether racism is becoming fashionable and normalized. And if so, what does that mean in terms of racial relationships, diversity, public policy and healthy respect for fellow mankind?
I hope that this is a temporary phase that we are going through and that the long arduous process of becoming a more diverse and inclusive society is still moving toward the mark of its high calling. I, for one, am committed to continuing the fight.
Yet as we aspire to have inclusive conversations in which the thoughts and ideas of all Americans are sought out, where strategies for expanding prosperity much encompass a broader demographic of America are developed, and where ideas on ways to create places in which we all feel safe, respected and valued for our difference are embraced, we must consider a wider array of different perspectives - rural, urban, black, white, brown, gay, straight, old, young, abled, disabled, Christian, Muslim, and the list goes on and on. No one identity group owns the solution, it must be embraced by all.
America has always been a resilient society where differences have been embraced, not shunned. It has been a long journey. There is still much work to do. However, there are some who now express the view that dialogue and discussion is hopeless as some are so emboldened in their narrow views. In spite of these current challenges, I remain hopeful. However, it will be incumbent on us all to remain active and engaged in the conversation and not let narrow, exclusive and reversive thinking crowd out a world view that is respectful, inclusive, diverse and forward moving.
This is my hope in a time when too many remain hopelessly divided.