(reprinted from July 18, 2010)
WASHINGTON — Can we talk? About race?
Your blood pressure is already rising? It need not. This isn’t a rambling diatribe or a harsh polemic filled with invective about tea partiers, Jim Crow and reparations.
Instead, it’s a plea for honest and thoughtful conversation about the ways in which long-held beliefs and biases, prejudices and predispositions pool in the back of our brains to form a feedback loop, a quick and unconscious Google which spits out judgments about people like us, different from us, unfamiliar to us.
This column won’t address the remnants of malevolent racism that linger at the margins of American society — whether expressed by a tea partier’s Photoshopped sign of President Obama as a witch doctor or a member of the New Black Panthers yelling about killing white people. Those remnants are too few and too feeble to merit serious attention.
The more challenging problem for a diverse society is harder to see, to pinpoint, to