The Portland Protests

Violence. Intimidation. Destruction of Property.

How’s that helping the process of combatting and eventually overcoming racial prejudice in our land?

I read that groups of masked people (mostly white), supporters of Black Lives Matter, have gone into white neighborhoods demanding to know whether residents agree with them or not. Or they go to the outside seating area of restaurants doing the same. Or they take and destroy property wantonly.

How’s that helping?

It is not.

You want quick results on the issue of race? Then you will have none.

But you will be sure to get backlash.

Racism cannot be resolved by violence.

Racism is the ugly offspring of intimidation, of disregard for the other, of people in power closing themselves to discovering what is human in those who are different from them.

It is rooted in fear of the other.

You cannot eradicate it through provoking fear.

Racism is a solvable problem but it will take commitment.

Our reluctance to not confront it has diminished us as a people. And still does. But you can’t scare people out of it.

We have to persuade. Induce people to embark in the quest for personal knowledge that will expand their minds and make room to accept those who are different from them.

No one jumps from being racist to not being racist.

It is a process and will take time.

Racism is not a matter of intelligence. People can be very smart and even make important contributions to humanity and yet be hampered by racist beliefs. Eminent people, even Nobel Prizes have been racists.

Intelligence will help a person work through their racism, but that quality alone does not preclude it.

Our nation can and should, organize a better effort to continue to reduce racism simply out of self interest, for steadily reducing racism will make us stronger, smarter, wiser and yes, more beautiful too.

Every African American in this country is entitled to affirm themselves each and every time they believe they are being treated unfairly because of the color of their skin. That needs to be supported, both at the individual and community level. Be firm, not violent.

If we sincerely wish to attenuate our racist feelings, when we encounter someone of a different race – no matter what their economic standing – let us quietly ask ourselves, ‘What gifts do they have that I don’t?’

I assure you they have gifts. We just need to look for them.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other books. Available in Amazon.

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