So “Meeting David Wilson” aired on MSNBC on Friday. It was great… and the ensuing conversation was extremely interesting.
First of all, from the perspective of a Black Briton it was fascinating to see black and white people sitting on a stage, on national American television, talking about race in such a frank way. Tim Wise, Director of the Association for White Anti-Racist Education, was bold enough to ask questions such as (i paraphrase) ‘what’s wrong the pathology of people who subjugate and dominate others in the way that white America has done?’. I was like ‘WOW!! – did he really say that?!”
I have NEVER in my life heard such an open discussion take place in the mainstream arena in the UK. And to be honest, I don’t think such a conversation would take place…We are still in that ‘liberal’ mindset where we think that because someone has one black friend this means there is no racism in the UK. For all of England’s cries of being more open and less segregated than America, people do not discuss race in this way – even though they very much need to.
Some people think that the debate on race on Friday, however, was too academic and intellectualized. I don’t agree with that completely. I think the academics had a lot of important comments to add, but admist talk of the prison industrial complex, education and that sort of thing lots of them missed a glaringly obvious issue which is that of personal responsibility within the black community.
Black people have been oppressed. Black people still are oppressed to a degree – although arguably a lesser degree than in the past. However, outside oppression is not the only issue. Back in the day, in the days of slavery and even until recently, black people faced very overt systematic racism. However, in spite of that, they still educated themselves, taught themselves how to read by candelight and so on. So how come today, with less of those issues, people are still complaining and saying that they can’t raise themselves up? What about our own personal responsibility? What about what we can do INSPITE of the outside forces?
I’m just listening now to David Wilson talking on Al Sharpton’s radio show. Al Sharpton has just said: if I knock you down on Monday and you fall over, that’s my fault… but if I come back next week and you’re still lying there, that’s your issue! I agree with him – that’s where we are right now. Why are we as black people still lying down? If we want to get up, we have to make it happen ourselves.
Anyway I’m glad that Dave’s film has sparked this conversation – it’s a very important one for Americans to be having… I look forward to hearing and being involved in more discussions on this matter.