The Probability and Possibility of Race and Racism in America

So here we are in the midst of another police shooting of an unarmed Black person in America.

In case you haven’t heard, Jordan Edwards was laid to rest after dying from a gunshot wound to the head. That kill shot came from the rifle barrel of Roy Oliver, a White policeman. This all happened in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, Texas. A review of the body cam footage led to Oliver being quickly fired and charged with murder.

For Blacks, these chain of events represent the latest of another unarmed Black person being shot to death by the police. Whites summarize this death as a tragedy that had nothing to do with race. I have even been told by White people  (friends, blog responders) that this tragedy could have easily happened to a White child.

The only way to make sense of these reactions by looking at race and racism through the lens of possibility and probability.

The dictionary defines probable as “likely to happen, to exist or to be true”. Possible, on the other hand, means “that which might exist or happen but is not certain to” Whereas probable implies a very high chance of something occurring, possible denotes that something may or may not happen. There’s just not certainty of outcome.

These two terms aptly explain race in America. Throughout history, Whites have consistently experienced the probability of racial advantage.  In other words, Whites do not consistently experience stress and strain that is attributed to their race.

This likelihood is not the same for Blacks. Because history has shown the consistent probability of racial disadvantage for Black people. This means that Blacks are seldom, if ever, able to consistently avoid racial stress and strain.

Without this logic, the main discussion points around the Jordan Edwards shooting will be on charges and conviction. Specifically, will those charges against the officer lead to a conviction? And will it take a conviction to change the deadly ways in which law enforcement deals with Blacks?

But with this logic comes the expansion of the discussion to these pivotal questions:

  1. Is the probability of a White cop shooting into a car full of Black boys driving away from a scene higher than the possibility of a White cop NOT shooting into a car full of Black boys driving away from a scene?
  2. Is the probability of a White cop NOT shooting into a car full of White boys driving away from a scene higher than the possibility of a White cop shooting into a car full of White boys driving away from a scene?

Whether I’m right or wrong is not the point. The point here is that you learn how to critically analyze the probable and possible ways in which race and racism determines the life experiences of Black people and White people.

What is the probability and possibility of you agreeing with me?

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Remember the Rodney King beating and the not guilty verdict for the White cops who nearly killed him?

I do. I can still see the television images of Los Angeles exploding in riots, gunshots, and flames. I can also still hear a battered and bruised Rodney King asking ‘Can’t we all just get along?”

The we, of course, is Whites and Blacks-the same we of race relations today.

This question is still of great importance today. The reason is that America is still divided by race. This division runs deep-deep enough to where race is dealt with through politically correct go along maneuvers.

White maneuvering is the minimization of race at all costs. Black maneuvering is the navigation of race while trying to avoid the “Angry Black Person” label.

So can Blacks and Whites get along in ways that avoid making nice for the sake of diversity?

The answer is yes, provided that we move towards grasping a real understanding about race.

As in the past, race is still a Black and White issue. To even begin to address this issue requires certain responsibilities for Black people and White people.

White people’s main responsibility is to become educated on the connection between White people and racism. Racism is a system of advantage that was built by White people for the benefit of White people. When whites avoid this understanding, they become complicit in perpetuating this system. Acquiring this understanding allows Whites to take a guilt-free approach to addressing whited framed systems of power, dominance, and authority.

Black people’s role in addressing race relations is to raise awareness regarding race. Blacks must continue to highlight the ways in which white oppression influences their lives.

These suggestions will not solve race issues in one fell swoop.

But they do allow Whites and Blacks to move along a continuum of awareness and understanding that aims for racial healing and inclusion.

Come along for the journey-won’t you?