A Lack of Empathy
August 3, 2020 (341 words)
The big noisy discussion we are currently having about systemic racism needs to happen. Since it’s a major reason so many blacks are stuck on the outside looking in, even after all these years, and after so many federally mandated attempts at integration and affirmative action.
But it’s not the only reason. Before we even get to the overarching subject of institutional exclusion, there is the issue of how regular, everyday white people failed to put their so-called Christian beliefs into practice, by extending a helping hand when they could have.
It’s always been incumbent on the group with the advantage, who enjoys the higher ground, to make concessions and show consideration, if social and economic injustices have any chance of being rectified.
This lack of neighborly love shown to black citizens could have first been chalked up to everyday whites being pre-occupied with their own self-preservation in our famously dog-eat-dog economy. Then, once those whites achieved a measure of middle-class comfort, the plight of the still-left-behind black population was easy to dismiss.
This blasé attitude is why the deep resentment being expressed by blacks this summer is taking the silent white majority by surprise. The majority thinks of themselves as not having a prejudiced bone in their body, as they lead relatively tranquil lives, far removed from any active racial strife.
They are appalled by the startling video reminders of indefensible acts on the part of certain members of law enforcement, now coming at them with increased regularity. But they don’t quite know what to do about it, beyond holding up a sign that reads “Black Lives Matter” at a local rally.
A residual, low-frequency guilt is the reason the silent majority is giving the protests and the non-stop airing of grievances a wide berth, even when the protests escalate into destruction of municipal property and looting of retail establishments. These whites seem to have acquiesced, at least for the time being, “as if (conceding) that the eruptions might be justified and even overdue,” as essayist Lance Morrow recently noted.
Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr
August 3, 2020