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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Race Relations on a Personal Level

Two recent experiences in my life give some indication of my immediate racial relations.  I have a young friend who has repeatedly told me that he and his friends do not trust the police.  I have tried to dissuade him of this opinion asserting that they are his friends–even going so far as to point to a police car and ask “friend or foe?”  My intent was to program him to say “friend.”  It was not until I saw the recent hospital news conference in which a high status black surgeon who treated members of the Dallas police force for gunshot wounds admit that despite his work as a surgeon, he feared the police when meeting them on the street.  At once I came to see my young black friend’s distrust in a whole new light, and for the first time it dawned upon me that for 100 years of Jim Crow laws it was the police that enforced them.

I have a sore throat so yesterday went to see my doctor (who is black).  The discussion at one point drifted to varicose veins and I ask him what they were.  He said “I’ll show you mine.”  He put his foot on a stool, pulled up his pant’s leg, and pulled down his sock.  He pointed to some veins and said “that’s what they look like.”  You may think my deepest thoughts at that point were weird.  But I immediately thought how blessed I am to live in America where informality and equality facilitate my life.  I have thought the same thing time and again over the past week.  Even in tragedy people do not stand hoity-toity on their authority, but readily reveal the vulnerability of their hearts.  Likewise victims of police violence let me see by live video what they encounter.  Informality encourages plain presentation and immediacy. It suggests a family-like intimacy which enables empathy and fuller knowledge. 

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