WHO CAN SPEAK by Sherman Mays
"Unless you have lived what I've been through, you can't possibly know what it means."
On the surface, this statement sounds plausible, and to some it is irrefutable. If taken as true, should comments concerning race be deemed 'off limits' when one's race is different from that of which the comment is made? For example, as a baker, you would not hesitate to criticize the gardener if your lawn was unevenly cut. After the critique of his work, the response by the gardener that "you are not a gardener and can't possibly understand what is involved in lawn care" would fall flat as to the reason why your yard was not properly groomed. Thus, you not being a landscaper, does not affect your ability to judge what you see; that is, his performance, or your desire to have a well manicured lawn.
Different, of course, are people from lawns. Those who actually experienced racial injustice can best speak to the emotional and physical harm to them caused by it. Nonetheless, if members of differing races are disqualified from speaking on racial matters, with charges which range from being called on one hand insensitive, to racist at the extreme; then how, will tensions between the races on matters concerning race, be reduced or resolved?
The relevant standard necessary to address the racial divide should be factual and thoughtful comments offered as a constructive solution to the problem at hand. Just as the baker can educate himself about gardening, so can sincere and earnest proponents of equality and racial harmony who engage the conversation and vie for resolution. Any conscientious person with knowledge of historical facts, and real-time observations of currently employed solutions to the residual racial differences in America, can and should, be allowed to speak competently and with confidence on racial matters. The ability to properly assess an issue comes from the understanding of the issue; not from the color of one's skin.
If the opportunity to improve your standard of living was available through a class in economics, would you require the teacher's skin color to match yours before accepting the lesson? If you earnestly were seeking to improve your status, you would explore all reasonable and viable options, without regard to superficial racial differences such as the skin color of the teacher, in your quest to improve. Those who live with such a shallow focus as their guidepost and remain closed to objective discussion from other than their 'status quo', deny themselves certainly, and perhaps others with whom they contact as a matter of course, the ability to gain advantage in the lifestyle and lives they lead. Intelligence and common sense must govern your decision to accept or not, the information being offered.
Not only in personal matters, but decisions in the political arena require the same scrutiny. Voting the familiar candidate or party because racially, "that's what you're supposed to do", or because family and friends said to do so, or because it's trendy, may not be in your best interest. Always ask the candidate, "How will I succeed with your policies in place?" Then gauge their answer to the limits set upon them (politicians/government) by the Constitution of The United States. Let the politics of freedom determine your vote.
Just as the math teacher instructs one to read the entire problem first, only listening to half the discussion will not yield sufficient information to reach the correct conclusion in racial matters.
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Another example of attacking the messenger without regard to the message.
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It only makes sense if you look like me...