How to Talk about Race: Eric Deggans at TEDxBloomingtonJan 02, 2022
how are you how are you wow i feel like a rock star guest on The Daily Show or something amazing I want to thank the folks at TEDx Bloomington for giving me the chance to
talkto you today and I have to tell you this feels like a homecoming for I was in IU on the seven year plan so I got to know the city and the people here pretty well when I was here 25 years ago to get that 25 years ago and one thing after I settled in the city would happen to me thing every year without fail someone would drive past me usually in a van sometimes with some friends and they would call me now the first time it happened i froze i was like one of those in the red shirt Star Trek security guys you know we used to call it yeoman johnson so i'm in there as yeoman johnson sure a beating is in my future and it didn't happen but what happened is every year like clockwork it was like a rite of spring or something like that he The snow would go f The bass would come out and someone would say hello not in a friendly way so I say don't put down the city don't put down this wonderful University just to point out that even in a place it's great like Bloomington even in us In a school as wonderful as Indiana University, there are still some corners, some pockets where stereotypes and prejudice rear their ugly heads, so I decided to bring you this
talkabout jumping to talk about
raceacross racial lines.
I went on and wrote about this and talked about this and thought about this and found that there are two big obstacles to this conversation: white people get too guilty and defensive and black people get too angry. and but I'm really convinced that at the root of that is a difference in how different people perceive racial progress now researchers at Stanford and Yale University investigated this they asked people different persuasions different ethnicities, how do they judge the racial progress and it turns out that black people are comparing where we are now to where we should be, this imaginary future where we're all equal and white people are comparing where we are now to where we used to be? the trip we took for you to ask a white person where we are in the wave of racial progress and they answered well you know we are no longer segregated you can have any kind of job you want regardless of who you are we have a black president who can you think things look pretty good you ask a black person about racial progress and he answers well let's see I'm followed by security every time I walk into a store I make about 75 percent of what a man makes white like me m I am 12 times more likely to go to prison if I am arrested on a drug charge than if I am a white person.
It is more likely that he will end up on death row. and people of color
raceissues our safety goals are Putting food on your table and taking care of your family is the main thing now for many whites race issues are parenting goals there are things you do to make the world a better place not as primary as a security objective, then us. we're looking at the same data we're looking at the same universe we're just using different criteria to judge it so these conversations are to inspire people to think well it's about taking these thoughts often when we think about race it's an implicit thought it's something in the back of our heads, we don't think about it directly, it's the side of our brain and its reflex actions, and the point of this conversation is to bring those things to the front and make you think about it now, I can only guarantee one thing, yes you have these conversations it will be awkward but i tell you what if its awkward that means you are doing it right now this reminds me a bit of a man i met on my travels as i have written about these things i met a man with the name of dr.
Bernard Lafayette Jr. and he is an expert on civil rights and speaking on race and racial reconciliation, he teaches at emory university and also teaches at dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta and he talked to me about the concept of how legal segregation when segregation was legal in Am
erica was horizontal segregation, so when people were waiting in line or when people were in an elevator, they didn't actually segregate by race, but they segregated. restaurants and segregated theaters segregated churches segregated where people sit because when you sit down and sit next to someone you are more likely to see them as your equal and you are more likely to see what you have in common with them so I guess The question is: how do we learn to sit together in the digital age?
I am now convinced that we must have some ground rules. of color mentioning these things because it is a skirt, yes, after all, but the whites. I'm here to tell you that you also have a culture of race and it's time for you to be in this conversation too because believe it or not you have j the stakes are just as high as we are and let me tell you something else talking about race does not equal racism let me tell you that Once again, talking about race is not the same as racism because many times when you want to talk about race, people are there.
I'm going to turn the situation around. Bill O'Reilly called me a racial harasser on his Fox News show. Now my reaction was that Bill O'Reilly called me a racist. I must be doing something right, but I still have to tell myself to call someone. a racist or a racist for wanting to talk about race is like calling out the guy who is trying to keep you from stepping on a pothole the pothole is already a ditch in the road i'm just trying to keep you from stepping on another important point we only talk about race issues in one crisis when Trayvon Martin, a sixteen-year-old black boy, is murdered in a Florida subdivision or when a respected academic like Henry Louis Gates is arrested at his home by police investigating a report of a robbery. now we want to talk about racial profiling and now we want to talk about how the police treat people of color, but by then people are polarized, they're angry, they're set in their ways, they don't, they're not willing to be open . they're not willing to challenge themselves it's really hard to speak up in an environment like that every time someone does something that's a questionable stereotype or racist the first thing we want to do is say he's like a bigot that guy's a racist what's wrong with that guy.
Now, believe me, I understand the impulse, but to me that almost outsources racism to racists and bigots, and you know what a myth is, that only bigots can act on stereotypes or prejudice. In fact, I think prejudice is a bit seductive, explains the world. It allows us to get into situations where we don't know anyone and we can prejudge. I can say oh, that guy likes rock music. It matters now to me the word racism is like a DEFCON level 5 root word, right? I hardly ever use it. I prefer words like bias, prejudice, stereotyping, feeling uncomfortable, spilling, kissing whatever, because that way we can backtrack a bit.
Talk about things. that they are not at that great level because the important thing to remember is that ugly stereotypes and racism are prejudices it is also a little seductive it attracts us it can be fun it can be entertaining one of the things that interest me about this The time in our culture is that now that we have a black president I sent so many people to go. I have to talk about you, you have a black president. What more do you want, right? But what people don't understand is why we have a black president.
President, that conversation is only just beginning as we become more diverse as a nation as we become more diverse as a nation these conversations are only going to happen more and more so maybe it's time to engage maybe it's time to get involved maybe it's time to participate thank you very much
If you have any copyright issue, please Contact