Race Matters falls into the category of must read. While he goes about addressing issues relevant to Black Americans, his words also serve as an invitation for White Americans to gain a greater understanding of people our society systemically dishonors from its very founding.
West’s analysis opens exploring the inseparable link between structures and behavior. Therefore, if you want to understand someone’s behavior, you need to understand the economic, political, and cultural structures that shape them. This awareness invites the kind of empathy and compassion also stirred by the fourth of The Four Agreements.
In the case of Black Americans, the broader structures of the United States systemically work as a threat to Black existence by seeking to create hopelessness, meaninglessness, and lovelessness. Recognizing this fact invites an admiration of Black culture that resists threat. However, West sees this resistance fading. He identifies consumerism and a lack of Black leadership as the key to forces undermining Black culture today.
A White Response To Race Matters
As a White man, it is not my right to evaluate West’s work. I am however invited to listen and, as a follower of Jesus, I am compelled to consider how I might serve as an ally and reconciler. After all, in Christ all races are one.
Here are some practical thoughts:
- Study Black history.
- Get to know people who happen to be Black.
- Listen to and believe Black people.
- Reject consumer culture and its appropriation of Blackness.
- Purposefully support Black-owned businesses.
- Recognize that, as a Americans, racism is woven into the very fabric of our society and therefore our beings. Confess it and speak out against the systemic racism that breeds it.
Those are a few thoughts on how we can participate in bestowing hopefulness, meaningfulness, and love to Black Americans. I would love to hear other suggestions in the comments.