Cultural Crossroads

We Have To Talk

About Racism With Each Other

By Jim Grandone

   Am I a racist?
   White. Male. Pushing 65. Your typical Trump voter demographic.
   Except, I am not a Trump supporter. I support Black Lives Matter. After all, I am considered a liberal on the political spectrum. Doesn’t matter. That doesn’t absolve me from being a racist.
Jim Grandone

   You see racism is insidious. It is both visible and invisible. You can watch the news and see the obvious racist action in the streets of our cities. Confederate and Nazi flags counter protesting BLM events. You can see it in the eyes of the self-appointed militia parading around with the AR 15s. The invisible part hides in the halls of power and the human resources departments at corporations.
   Try as I might, I want to understand other cultures beyond the mov

ies and the music and entertainers. But I don’t. I probably never will. My closest experience was a graduate fellowship with 11 others at the Coro Leadership Center in St. Louis where my trainer was African American from Compton, Calif., and I was a minority. But that’s another story.
   The reasons I am probably racist are legion. I was raised in a white neighborhood. Went to an all-white private school until high school. My friends are all white. So, my orientation is white. It isn’t by design. Or is it?
   Most people think of white people who hate black people when they think of racists. The KKK. White Supremacists. But that is where the insidious part comes into play. You see, you don’t have to hate black people or Asians or Latinos to be racist. It’s in everyday privilege that racism occurs and is virtually undetectable. It happens in the hiring process where previous experience is required. How does a member of a minority get that experience? It’s that degree and the first hire that determines access to careers. Are those doors really open?
   You may wonder why a white, privileged American male, pushing 65 is talking about racism to a predominantly white audience? It is because we have to talk about racism with each other. That is where it begins. It does no good telling minorities that you are their ally if you aren’t willing to call out racism among the white people with which you associate. It does not change anything in the structure of society if we don’t confront racism when we see it.
   So, what that comes down to is systemic racism. And it has got to stop.
   Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.
(Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the Edwardsville Intelligencer)
Posted on RP News, Aug 4, 2020