Tuesday, May 13, 2008

That Conversation

I wonder if we're having that conversation about race we were going to have? I don't just mean the one Barack Obama began with his March 18 speech in Philadelphia, but the one we were going to have after the end of the Civil War, or the one we were going to have in response to the Jim Crow era, or the one after Brown vs. Board of Education, or the one after the "I have a dream" speech, or the one after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, or the one after the Watts riots, or the one after the Rodney King / OJ Simpson verdicts, or the one after Hurricane Katrina. I think all these National Conversations About Race are all the same National Conversation About Race, and I wonder: are we having it?

I don't know. Here are a few readings:

Is this the conversation? You tell me.


mikesdak said...

We have the same situation in South Dakota, as I posted in my humble blog back in March.....

According to the last census, there are 4685 black/African American people in South Dakota, putting them as a minority group in a virtual tie for third with Asians,well behind Native Americans and Hispanics. It is still quite possible to grow up here and never meet a live black person. When you talk race relations here, it almost always involves Native Americans.

So any conversation about race here would be quite different from elsewhere.

Dale said...

That's a good point, Mike. Here in Oregon we have a substantial Native American population and there are tensions. We also have a rapidly-growing hispanic population which, I believe, surpassed the black population a few years ago and didn't stop climbing. We also have a reasonably large Asian population. So we have our own form of the conversation-to-be-had too.

By and large, racial politics aren't very "big" in Oregon. And I'm glad of that. I am not prepared to say it means we don't have racial tensions, but at least the problems are not bleeding open wounds. I think.