If you've spent any time online you've seen them. They barge into every discussion about racial issues like belligerent drunks in a bar, arrogance emanating from them like a stench, armed with statistics "proving" that Blacks are the most violent ethnic group on earth.
Parker J. Palmer is an author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change, with nearly 10 books and countless articles to his credit.
Over the past couple weeks, much of the mainstream media and bloggersphere had been abuzz with frenzied commentary to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's efforts to encourage baristas to discuss the issue of race with customers.
One observation may be subjective -- often it's not completely -- but when millions speak, it's a greater truth, one no one can reasonably deny. No one wants to be treated poorly. We are all Americans. And more importantly, we are all human beings.
Racism is so ingrained in the American experience that no one who has grown up here is free of it -- white, black, or anyone else. Until we acknowledge that, describe it, and share it across the racial divide we are not free.
So here we are, approaching Christmas 2014. Racism still taints the American dream. And unlike, say, in 1964 when there was a sense of a movement on the march with history on its side, it is hard to summon up optimism.
I discovered that I was black in the third grade. No -- not really. I have always known that I had brown skin, but I did not start to realize what having brown or black skin represented in a social, economic and legal context until halfway through elementary school.
Individual acts of kindness are necessary, but not sufficient to address the deeply rooted, and widespread pattern of racism that results in lethal violence against unarmed teenagers, as well as in a lack of prosecution of police who kill unarmed teenagers.
In our daily interactions with news and pop culture as well as anti-racist movements and protests, Black men become the representation of violence in America. However, Black women seem to fade into the background, as do the women who have raised them, cared for them, and loved them.
I didn't say anything when things were said to me. And that's the same as saying it was acceptable. There are a hundred reasons that I was quiet for too long, but the biggest of all, was because it happened so much.
The point is that black American life and white American life stay rigidly separated at absolutely key moments of human communication. Do some people feel they are "better" than some other people? Or maybe it's not that at all. Does it, in fact, cut far deeper?
We cannot continue to deceive ourselves that we are somehow 'post-racial'. It's going to take courage to be honest about our challenges and create resolutions that can truly move us towards greater equality.
The walls of social media roar in response to Sterling's comments. But if the nation is so offended by racism, why is there no consistent public outrage for the ongoing racist practices that deeply affect entire communities of Americans on a daily basis?
It's easier to fight an individual than it is to fight an institutionalized system, but this is what is needed. Its always good to see a racist buffoon go down and feel righteous about it, but it serves little purpose, nor does it change much.
Recently I watched The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) (staring Jackie Robinson as himself) and 42 (2013) back to back. They tell the story of how Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball and changed race relations in America.