Resolving the Racial Divide and Racism

There are many terrific ideas being proposed to help our culture include more equality, from improving education, to assigning more mental health professionals to work with the police, and taking to the streets to bring awareness and express dissatisfaction. Most are old ideas. I’ve watched this struggle since I can remember; in the 1960s and 70s there was a similar upheaval for change and healing of the racial disparity. There was much talk and action to address it.  Yet here we are, circling back, realizing how our efforts have failed. Why?

One reason is our piecemeal approach, so many programs that affect only a few people. Or ideas like Head Start; an honest effort, but didn’t address the real problem. And equating throwing more money as a solution to problems. More food stamps, more welfare, more school lunches. While much of it is necessary, this still doesn’t address the cause. Legislating to stop discrimination is nice but doesn’t address the problem. Pulling down Confederate statues may help emotionally, but will never address the problem.

Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, lifting the entire society to become more aware, more conscious is the only real solution.

It is the only one that doesn’t continue to slap band aids on a cultural problem.  If we continue to be focused on the symptoms and not the cause, we will never get there. And it isn’t the easiest, but it is possible.

What we need to stop doing:

  • Stop ostracizing and punishing those who are acting out for or against changes. For using trigger words, for using hateful speech from all views. If they are acting out of ignorance and reflexive fear, they may not learn anything by being disregarded as human beings and not heard. This helps no one.
  • Stop mindlessly spending money on our problems. The lack of effectiveness and waste in government spending is disgraceful. We have a multitude of programs at every level of government with little to no progress to show.
  • Stop talking and look for positive actions.


What we need to start doing:

  • Send good communicators out into the communities. Mental health experts, compassionate conflict resolution experts, educators, and elected officials with the objective of listening, problem solving, and coming up with creative and thoughtful ideas to discover our commonalities and working on our communities together.
  • Develop a program that will be taught in all schools that includes conflict resolution, problem solving, stress management, and some type of mindful practice that allows inner reflection and growth in awareness. There are schools across the country doing this now, but they are few and far between.
  • Have everyone brainstorm to come up with a better plan to help the lowest socioeconomic sectors and finally stop the perpetuation of poverty generation to generation.
  • Prison reform. A thoughtful plan to bring the non-violent offenders into programs that increase their success in life through education, problem solving etc.

By raising awareness, or consciousness, in a significant number of people in society, systemic problems like racism will wane naturally because we grow in self-reflection, empathy, and broader perspectives. We will develop an ability to listen to diverse opinions without reacting negatively. With compassion and care for everyone, we will all rise.

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

We Are All Brainwashed

Why are we so surprised when someone acts badly, horribly? There have always been people who do so. Why do we expect others to change and behave because we tell them to or think they should?

     When people we like say unfortunate things we excuse them, when people we disapprove of say unfortunate things we say, “See, see how awful that person is?”

     Our whole law and order system is based on the premise that we have no control over ourselves and will purposely do bad things if we are allowed to, but not if there is a law against it. Huh?

     We keep expecting military, police and others in the line of danger to control themselves, even after teaching them how to harm and kill others. Are we giving them skills to increase their insight, judgment, and self-control?

     Why do we hoard toilet paper? Why do selfless acts, people doing the ‘right’ thing, bring so much attention?

     There is so much going on, originating from our primitive past and evolution, to our states of awareness or consciousness. The great majority of us don’t get up and plan to do harmful things one day. We expect people to behave because most of us tend to follow the rules, use care and make decisions not to harm without even thinking about it.

     But we are emotional beings, and when we are tripped emotionally by fear, real or imagined, our primitive part of our brain, the reptilian brain, hijacks our rational, more evolved brain. When fear sets in and takes hold, our basic survival reflexes take over, and our thoughts go from reasonable to “I won’t have any toilet paper!”.  More seriously, when fearing our existence could be extinguished, the root of all fear.

     And we have the media and social sites stoking the flames over and over and over causing more brains to go into survival mode. It is like an inflammation of society. It is the old adage, what you pay attention to grows.

     What is the answer? What I have always maintained; enough of us having the intention to raise our consciousness, our awareness. We can learn how to subdue the primitive brain and not allow this knee-jerk reaction of fear.  There is a profound amount of research now to support the myriad benefits of conditioning our minds with meditation, yoga and other mindful practices, and understanding how to attain wellbeing, which includes health, happiness and prosperity. If enough of us do this it will raise the mass consciousness perhaps to the point where we will begin to see clearly the causes of these outbursts we see on the news, like the woman in the park who called the police on a black man just telling her to leash her dog, or more dire acts of violence such as the policeman who killed a black man in custody. It is more than prejudice, it is low consciousness, which doesn’t suppress a primitive response such as fear, apathy and other ignorant reactions that can lead to cruelty. (Noted, a black person seeing what happens to other black people when confronted by a bad policeman, will feel fear. To ask someone in this situation to not feel that way in this present day is ridiculous.)

     We are all brainwashed in that we all are prejudice. We grow up with our family of origin’s beliefs, our communities, our culture’s and the beliefs of those who we chose to be around, right or wrong. Then, we have layers added from the media, internet and Hollywood images. We seek out validation of our own opinions and surely, we find them. It is mostly unconscious.

     We think we are right and others who disagree with us are wrong. That is prejudice. All sides of an issue have varying degrees of validity. It takes maturity to see another’s viewpoint. To see their hurt behind their harmful words and actions. To see their fear in the violent acts. To see their desperation in their hateful speech or destructive actions. It isn’t easy.

     To be open-minded doesn’t come naturally; it takes intention and effort, it takes introspection.

     The miracle is how our society functions as good as it does most of the time. The great majority of police and military act with honor and conscientiousness. Most of the protests are peaceful and productive. Most drivers are driving carefully. Most people, given the opportunity, will not steal. Most people show kindness daily. And this isn’t because of our man-made laws, it is because of consciousness.

     When I saw a white policeman kneel beside the protesters, and another wrapping his arms around one, a lump formed in my throat. Then, I saw more police talking of the great need for real conversation between the black community and police departments. And I now see a small light emerging. Growth. Will it be fanned instead of more of the grief and anger? Will we now listen to each other and move to the next level of awareness with love and kindness?