Chicago Sun-Times
Discussions across the racial divide

Why I Talk About Race

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Whether you are a well-to-do white male from Lincoln Park or are a barely-making-it single mother living in subsidized housing, you are likely to hold some misguided perceptions about race and class.

How could you not?

We live in a city that is still divided by race--and class--to the point that wherever I go, someone reminds me that Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the nation. But do we talk about that? Nooooo.

That's just odd.

Earlier this year, when Men's Fitness magazine named Chicago the nation's fattest city, we got on it. Fitness programs popped up everywhere. And you couldn't go a day without reading or hearing about the latest dieting trends.

So why don't we talk about race?

O.K. I'll re-phrase that question. Why don't white people talk about race? Why don't Asians talk about race? Why don't Latinos talk about race?

Black people talk about race all the time.

We talk about it when we bemoan the state of public education. We talk about it when we complain about police brutality. We talk about it when we shop at neighborhood stores that sell loose cigarettes and single sticks of margarine.

Last month, I participated in a panel discussion of the movie "Crash" that was held at DePaul University. I was surprised that so many people turned out for the event. Other members of the panel included a black poet, black public defender, Puerto Rican lawyer, a black judge, a Latino lawyer, and a white lesbian/feminist/politician.

The audience included about a dozen white people.

Everyone seemed passionate about the racial themes depicted in the movie. But at the end of 1-1/2 hours of talking, we didn't hear from one white person.

Not one white person asked a question. Or made a comment. Or shared a story about race relations. For all practical purposes, we were a roomful of black and Latinos talking to ourselves.

So what I want to know is this: Why is it so hard for white people to talk about race?

Black people aren't shy about telling white people what irks them. White people shouldn't be shy either. Besides, getting this weighty issue out in the open would not only clear the air, but may just help improve race relations in this city.

But be warned. This is my blog. While I welcome spirited debate, I'm not putting up with the disrespect. Please refrain from using racial slurs, hurling insults and posting comments that are meant to shock and offend.

Hopefully, this daily journal about race and class will be a true reflection of how we interact across racial and ethnic lines. Hopefully, our candid conversations will pave the way to some honest public dialogue on the subject.

If that happens, maybe one day we really won't need to have this conversation.

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242 Comments

The white aversion to honest discussions of race seem to be universal. As a resident of south suburban Atlanta, GA and an officer of the local NAACP branch and a regular columnist to the local newspaper, I have experienced almost "Klan-like" reactions to a call for open, honest pubhlic discussions of race in the South. Some white men have gone as far as to challenge the designation of "African-American" by many black people! My deceased father-in-law who lived in Chicago almost all of his life, had notated "American" when applying for a Post Office job in the early 1950's. It was later determined (he got the job) that "someone" in the Postal Services' HR unit had changed the "American" designation to "white", probably in recognition of his light skin color! Racism and its prevasive impact on this society by the original practitioners has even overcome the mythical "American" notion of honesty an direct confrotation.

There could be many reasons, but chiefly I believe that some whites may not feel comfortable in a mix setting talking about race because who wants the finger pointed at them and then know that they are significantly outnumbered. I call it the lessons learned from Custer---or as James Brown used to say " don't start none, won't be none". When you're truly outnumbered it's better to pack up the tent and go home. Besides who wants to touch issues such as the true emotional and developmental costs of slavery and then another 100 years of legal segregation to the current state where the various races exist, but have yet to practice meaningful cooperative living. On the other hand black people have been victimize and now wear the trappings of being a victim and look to blame race, when it fact there could be some personal responsibilities at the heart of the matter. If a brother calls out another brother it can be a heated, but accepted exchange. Yet, if a white person called that same brother out, it would likely be even more heated because after years of not getting his voice heard, the brother may feel that the white guy is trying to drown out his voice---and today the brother says he is not going to have any of it. This is an example of the baggage black people carry from years of being invisible. Now black people and Latinos firmly believe in letting their voice be heard and that being benevolent to whites is no longer acceptable. With all of this pent up anger in the air, it's not surprising that whites would rather avoid voicing their views. Why get verbally beaten if you don't have to. What happened when those whites in attendance left the forum? They called their other white friends and had the same discussion among themselves!

I think that some people can't ever get over the fact that every face seen can't reflect your own.

Race relations in Chicago...where should I start? Loose squares(cigarettes) and single sticks of margarine is just the tip of the iceberg, and it has crossed generations just like a lot of things in Chicago has. I'm originally from Chicago, grew up on the low end (44th and St Lawrence)and still have family that lives down in Englewood. I left Chicago in December 1992, about 6 months after graduation from high school and joined the United States Air Force, which is where I've been ever since. As of now, I'm stationed at Ramstein Air Base,Germany but I had the opportunity to come back to the United States to visit Chicago and Little Rock, Arkansas for 2 weeks around the end of last month. There is a definite difference in the way folks are going about their day to day in Chicago but I did notice something very peculiar about EVERYONE, check it out: My dad worked for the city as a building inspector for 18 years and he always tells me that he's glad that I'm gone, been all over the world with my job but Chicago is still home. He talks about the "doom and gloom" that seems so prevalent in Chicago now - everywhere I went in the city, folks just looked so down and out, while Mayor Daley and his cronies call this a "City for the Millineum". Everything comes at a price. Food for thought, get a plate.

But, there is a definite difference in the racial classes in our city. Lots of haves and have nots, subtle gentrification of our neighborhoods, substandard education for our children, corruption at the highest levels of city government - you name it, we got it. Kind of makes you wonder, since it affects all of us of all races, what kind of legacy are we leaving behind for our children? As of right now, with the way things are looking right now with race relations in Chicago all we're going to leave them with is resentment and animosity for the differences that make us Chicagoans unique, from Rogers Park to Roseland, from the Gold Coast to Austin - from the Tower Records on North Clark to the Harold's Chicken Shack on 87th and Dan Ryan. I challenge anyone from our great city to think about not just what's current but additionally what's in our future. Chicago is a world class city and I know my Chicago is capable of a lot greater things than what's going on now - even when I'm half a world away. I don't expect everyone to be dancing in the streets overnight but while we're in those streets let's show some tolerance instead of animosity, respect instead of resentment, and most of all, and this is a big one, comraderie - something we have all over in our military - because this is OUR city and we're better than that, and when it comes down to it we very well should be. Off the cuff dialogue can work wonders and learning is a lifetime experience. Folks will tell you "well, that's the way it is, it's always been that way", that's garbage. It's that way because we allowed things to continue in that direction to the point it has developed into now. ..just because you pour syrup on it doesn't make it pancakes. I'm not college eduacated to the max, not an activist or antagonist, alarmist or anything like that but I am from CHICAGO. We have a lot of learning to do..about each other, don't you agree?

This is my very general view of what I feel about race relations in Chicago. If you haven't figured it out by what neighborhoods I grew up in I am black, but this isn't a race thing, this is a Chicago thing - let see who else follows suit. Sound off...

Henry A. Thomas III

So why don't "white" people talk about race? The same reason that Bill Cosby can endlessly blame lower-class African-Americans for their own plight, but no white person could ever dream of making similar comments. The same reason that John Stewart from the Daily Show, who is Jewish, can openly crack jokes about his "jewiness," but he never makes fun of Catholics, for example. The same reason that John Leguizamo can have a distgustingly named stage show "spic o rama" in which he savagely berates many aspects of Latino culture, while no sane African-American comedian would ever embark on such commentary. The same reason that no politician would ever dream of criticizing the U.S. military, unless that politican was himself a veteran. It's the same reason why a family member can make derogatory comments, however truthful, about other family members, but when a person from outside the family makes similar comments, they suddenly become fighting words. In other words, why don't white people talk about race? The same reason that people in general don't talk openly about religion or politics at a bar... It's just not worth the trouble.

I would like to comment on the following part of your article.

"Why don't white people talk about race? Why don't Asians talk about race? Why don't Latinos talk about race?

Black people talk about race all the time."

I think you found the problem. If people are "talking" about anything all the time they are wasting a lot of time they could be "doing" things that help them get ahead. In my opinion there are more things in modern Black culture holding back the community than racist impediments imposed from the outside.

Mary, welcome to Blogworld!

We as african americans can easily talk about how race affects our lives as we still live through some moments where we are reminded of discrimination and racial desparities.

We are still racially profiled, racially discrimination against not only because of the color of our skin, but also because of the neighborhoods that we live in; socialeconomic discrimination.

Caucasians and others races do not face the same racial desparities as do we.

Yesterday, I saw five caucasion males jogging down 67th street with their shirts off. I immediately thought to myself, "If we took our shirts off and ran in the a prodominitely white neighborhood, five brothers, we would probably be followed by a squad car or it will be sitting in some incognito location watching us.

However, what do we do when we see Caucasians in our neighborhoods, we greet them or they look the other way.

Because others races don't face the same struggles as we do, race does not seem to be too big of a factor unless you talk about immigration or similiar laws.

In addition, it's another reason why AA's usually pull the race card even when race was not a factor; cause as an oppressed culture of people, racial disparities are almost always believable.

What is that you want to know? I am a white male 43 married two daughters age 4 & 6 and I take care of my family. Why am I always portrayed as the bad guy. I live in Beverly which is probably the poster child for racial intergration. blacks and whites live side by side with VERY few problems. The recent beating of the young boy by 3 black males was a TRAGEDY. But those 3 alleged offenders didn't live in Beverly ...they just came to prey on us. As is the case with most of the crime in our neighborhood. The people thAt live in our neighborhood white or black are hard WORKING people who TAKE CARE OF THEIR HOMES AND YARDS AND FAMILIES. That is whole issue.. taking care of your business and not blaming somebody else for your plight in life. There is no substitute for hard work, and taking care of your children.

White people don't talk about race as much as black people do for several reasons, not the least of which is this: When a black person frames an issue in terms of race, their commentary is labeled in terms of being "insightful" or "honest" or "putting the issue in perspective" or some such positive trait.

Usually, when a white person frames an issue in terms of race he is immediately labeled a racist, especially by many blacks, who seem to think that only THEY have the right to see an issue from a racial perspective.

Your own column is usually based on racial issues of one sort or another, but imagine the uproar if a white columnist regularly wrote a column with a "white perspective"! The outrage from the black community would be swift and loud.

Mary,
I am so happy you are doing this. I am white, middle class, live in Park Forest, IL. I think it so important to have this conversation, and you're right, white people aren't comfortable. I think we're somewhat intimidated, feel guilty, are afraid to say the "wrong thing." But I have noticed, in my mixed-race neighborhood, that my sons and their black friends are not as inhibited zbout it and I hear them having conversations all the time, sometimes joking and sometimes obviously, like all of us, trying to figure it out. That gives me hope, but I think it takes actually living and working together to make us feel comfortable. Many of my white friends who live in insulated neighborhoods just do not seem to get it, or have much desire to get it.

This subject is something I always wondered about also especially about the media.Whenever something negative happens in the african -american community its front page.When a incident like the white youth who was beat by his own prothesis came out people were rightfully outraged it was assumed by many to be the "work"of black youths and was front page fodder, that is until it was found out to be 3 white thugs then it was relegated to page thirteen.The recent 'disclosure"of the abuse of our citizens(almost all minority)only verifies what people in the community have been saying for years ,it didnt start with mayor Daley and probably wont end with him.Race is a sensitive issue that sometimes rubs people the wrong way but that is not a reason not to discuss it.Actually we are all actually the same race the "human race".We all should try to look for the good in each other, not always the bad.But until then we have to discuss these issues, if we don't we are certain to repeat the mistakes of the past.

I loved this entry. Extremely fitting for your madien voyage into the Blogosphere...you say the things others may want to say but don't have the guts.
It's a tough job - thank you for doing it.
Best to you!

I AM WHITE AND HAVE NO PROBLEM TALKING RACE. I DONT THINK MANY PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAY. I AM SO SICK OF LABELS IN SPANISH, LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH LIKE MY GRANDPARENTS DID WHEN THEY CAME TO THIS COUNTRY. IF YOU HAVE COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE SCHOOL THAT IS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD YOU CHOSE TO LIVE AND RAISE YOUR CHILDREN IN THEN YOU HAVE 2 CHOICES, PAY FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL, OR GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE AND VOLUNTEER AT THE SCHOOL AND HELP WITH MAKING IMPROVEMENTS.
LIFE IS ABOUT MAKING CHOICES, DONT LOOK FOR EVERYONE ELSE TO PICK UP THE PIECES OF YOUR CHOICES.
I DONT UNDERSTAND HOW RACE PLAYS A PART IN SO MANY ISSUES WITH PEOPLE. I LEARNED WITH A LITTLE COMMON SENSE HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHAT IS AVAILABLE TO ME, AND NOT WITH ANY HAND OUTS, FOOD STAMPS OR WELFARE.
I ONLY HAD AS ANY CHILDREN AS I COULD AFFORD AND I AM TEACHING THEM THE SAME. I COULD GO ON FOREVER.
WHITE PEOPLE DONT TALK RACE BECAUSE WHEN THEY DO THEY ARE RACIST. MINORITIES DONT REALLY WANT TO HEAR WHAT WHITE PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY.

Mary,

We have fonted many times, I mostly agree with your viewpoints, but sometimes I have told you I disagree with your thought processes or I thought you missed the boat on a specific viewpoint. I work for a motivational media company, and I would love for us to offer some motivation on race relations, but so far this has not happened. I do enjoy your airing of the problems of race locally, it is an eye opening experience for many people, but you must be aware that many people are used to being comfortable in their lives w/o having to seriously deal with the race issues of AA. I'll give you one example, the SCORE 670 am is Chicago sports talk, hugely popular with caucasian men. They routinely, attack and make fun of AA men and women in sports and in news stories on that station. They blatantly use the words "dumb" and "idiot" when discussing our people. Mike North is Chicago's version of Rush Limbaugh. I emailed Mike and his squad along with the producer of the show, and the only response I received was from the producer who stated that he supported Mike North and he quoted Reagan, "give people their responsibilities and leave them alone." I responded to him Reagan wanted to leave everyone alone so he could sleep more! So please continue to be the conscience of Chicago; someone needs to be!

I think white people don't talk race, because it doesn't effect them in a negative way as it does Black and latino's. when you are the majority and most things go your way you won't have anything to complain about. I as a black man,am reminded on a daily basis of how black a am, exspecially in corporate america.

White people are hush about race for a very simple reason. The minute anything about a black, or any minority is said concerning a particular minority person, or issue- that white person is labaled a racist and we have columnists like yourself or Jesse Jackson proclaiming what a racist society we live in. There can be no constructive discussions concerning race, simply becuase the race card is thrown each and everytime a white person is involved in that discussion.

Mrs. Mitchell I would like you to know that I read your column religuosly, and before we can start any dialogue with or about white people, we must first address our own issues. I've never seen a white person selling drugs in our nieghborhood, white people are'nt killing our children, we are. Now I am well aware of the fact, that the underlying factors may come from white people,but it is up to us as a people to address these issues, and make the proper changes. Why do we find it necesary to wear $80.00-$200.00 gym shoes? Why is'nt anyone noticing that the well paying construction jobs in our community are not being worked by us, as high as our unemployment rate is? Lets get our stuff together before we go blaming anyone else for OUR shortcomings.

Mary -

Welcome to the blogosphere.

To your point, first not all white people have a problem talking about race (your colleague Ralph Martire's column on education this past wek is a fine example), so let's rephrase the question. "Why do so many white people have a problem talking about race?"

Well, first, there are a smaller class of white people like Burt Natarus who are bigots. Read what Burt Natarus had to say about "Afro-Americans" and you can understand why you can't have an intelligent conversation about race with Burt Natarus.

Then, unfortunately, there are a larger group of people who really have had no interaction with people of color, and only know what they see on t.v. Many live in rural American, and these folks can't talk about race because they've never had an interacial experience, and so they have no common ground from which to start the discussion.

More common in Chicago is the large number of white people who like to think of themselves as modern, progressive folks, but when it comes to really rolling up our sleeves and talking about race, they start to curl up into a defensive posture. It's because when we talk about racism, it's easy for them to feel guilty, and when people feel guilty, their first reaction too often is to defend themselves, no matter how ridiculous the position.

Then of course, there are folks like Ralph Martire. You guys should compare hate mail sometime. I bet it's signed by alot of the same folks.

What can Mary Mitchell do, and everyone else who is interested in creating a dialogue about race in Chicago? I think what is most important is to approach people in a way that makes them feel like we're all working together on the same side to solve a common problem, and to continually reinforce that notion throughout the dialogue.

One of the reasons white people don't talk about race in mixed company is that the politically correct will immediately call you a racist for even being aware of race as a white person.

Well Mary,
Here is my take on race in chicago plain and simple I believe that white people just don't get it or often take the stance of get over it. I have few white friends and nearly all of them just don't understand or even care to address race. It is like kryptonite to them, they get all sick in the face and change the subject. I have one friend that I beleive that her not undertsanding that race is an issue in the city prevents us from being better friends. If I mention race for any issue even it is a race issue she goes off the deep end. The only subject she likes to talk about in regard to race is how much she prefers dating black guys and always quick ask me to hook her up. I see it as white people take what they want from the black community without regards to anything else how it effects us and them. Look at the words I am using "us and them" until we all change our prospectives it will always be us and them.

If a black, white, asian, Jewish, and Middle eastern child were all raised from childhood togather as one family without any outside adults ever knowing their heritage or letting them know thier backgrounds would race matter to them? I have my 5 year old looking for Blacks on TV and in Magazines and reffering to people as either Black or White and I sincerly don't know how he became so concietious of race. Maybe me getting him to watch Malcom X and Muhammed Ali and Rosa Parks has something to do with it? Let's understand that childern are listening when we adults our having our conversations about race. Cassius M. Williams

I was just telling my boyfriend (black man) about the black man who hijacked the 18 wheeler with the white woman behind the wheel. He said he did so due to the unfair treatment black men receive in society. My boyfriend's first question: was the truck driver white or black? He said that he understood how the brotha could feel that way and he empathized with him. He did not condone the hijacking, but he understood how this would bring attention to the plight of the black man. I don't see how this situation does anything but make the black man look bad. Hijack a truck, go to jail..and then what?

Hi Mary,

Love the blog and your column.

I think one reason white people don't talk about race is because they seem to think it's something in the past. They inevitably link it to slavery and feel that it's about the past and that they're not accountable for the past. The problem is, they are. Racial problems do stem from slavery and until they can acknowledge that - publicly and financially - they will never get it.

Most white people are comfortable in their existence. They don't think the problems of blacks and Latinos affect them until they are personally robbed, murdered, etc. Then they want to lump us all into a category.

Why is it that the U.S. Government can help Jews recover lost assets from the Nazis, apologize to Japanese citizens interred in WWII and give them reparations, but will not acknowledge their responsibility and apologize for slavery and have a real discussion on reparations?

Affirmative action isn't enough. Welfare isn't enough. And because that's as far as White America will go, they have nothing else to talk about.

You are so right! White people will not talk about race because they feel we are really not being treated the way we say we are. Excuse me? You are not black. You will never feel how we are treated. Their ancestors have instilled that blacks are will always be below them. That is why I was so happy that Tim McCarthy,one of the convicted hiring scam persons was found guilty. His true colors were definitely showing!

I think this will be a very interesting discussion. I am anxious to see the comments.

I have actually thought about this in the past, and i have come to the conclusion that White people are not necessarily afraid to talk about race, but more unsure who to talk to about race. I am a younger white female (27) and I have talked about race issues with close friends of mine of other races/colors/creeds/backgrounds. But i know i would feel out of sorts if I talked to folks that I didnt know about those sort of issues. I am very open and honest in my beleifs and all of my friends know this. But, if I was talking about these issues around people I didnt know. I would be worried about people taking things that i said the wrong way, and not giving me a chance to explain myself. Or calling me a racist becuase I didnt word something right or they dont like something I said.

This was the best blogs I have read by far. I like your spunk...

Well, "fitness programs popped up everywhere" because being considered the fattest city is not a complement. Being FAT is a problem. Being black or white is just reality. We can control our weight, but we can't control what color we are!!!

Mary I cannot believe you are serious when you say Whites don't talk about race we talk about it all the time. We just cannot say much in public because of the politcal climate. Blacks especially black leaders have the attitude that if you aren't with us you are against us or you are labeled a racist. Hopefully your blog will open up the discussion in a reasonable manner.

sincerely

Patrick

White people and others don't talk about race because they are comfortable in their situation.We are the ones in the bizare position.One we will never rise up trying to do it in a public situation,because if any body of substance does come along "they" are going to pick at them in the media until nothing is left.Prechers oh man forget about it,you know and i know they will sell us out to the highest bidder,polititions anyone?Hell you are laughing at that one.Entertainers read prechers.The solution is out there we just have to find it but what we have been doing for the last 400 years obviously is not working.So we either find a new plan or keep doing the same thing and die.

Mary unfortunately you have already started off on the wrong foot. Editing/filtering or deleting blog entries before they are posted will not get you or fellow bloggers true and accurate feelings of whites or blacks or asians etc. Why not let the entries get posted and edit them later? Pull blatantly offensive posts after they have been posted if there are bigots or racists or plain old idiots out there the bloggers will filter them themselves. Also make a rule where profanity or derogatory terms will automatically delete the post. Gives us a list of those words etc.

Patrick

I think that a lot of white people may shy away from discussing race in a public forum out of fear of being labled racist. I once had a conversation in college with a couple of African-American guys (by the way, is it now offensive to just say, black guys), one of whom, when Richard Roeper's name came up, said he's a racist. I've always thought Mr. Roeper had more courage than the rest of us in actually writing about race being that he's a white male, but I never thought that anything he wrote was racist. I really had no intention of escalating that situation, so I felt that it would be best to just let it go and not to ask why he felt that way. That's just one example of why I think white people keep quiet.

Whites don't talk about race because we are the racists. If I was black or latino I wouldn't be the racist. I think that racism is being used to hide the true problem. We all want a reason why we are not rich, popular or respected. Rather than look at ourselves for the answer we blame others.
You get what you put into life. I have been discriminated against, it did not turn me against blacks nor do I use it as an excuse.

Being a Latino I hate when the race card is always used and abused. I want people to look at me for what I have accomplished and not feel sorry for me b/c im a minority. People need to get over the race card b/c its getting old and annoying. Every race has their stereotypes so lets move beyond that and quit whining about what happened hundreds of years ago. Live in the present, do not dwell in the past.

well, one problem may be the fact that different "white" ethnic groups don't find being lumped together as white as accurate, and in some cases are downright insulted by it.

MLK Jr. noted this when he visited CHicago (read American Pharaoh for more), he was astounded at how complex and deep-rooted many European Chicagoans were in their ethnic identity. In the South it may have been all black-and-white, but in the North the various European ethnic groups brought their conflicts from the Old World here and in some cases it never stopped.

Think about it - in just one small exmaple, English were busy wiping out Irish people for centuries before any of that happened to either black or hispanic people, English occupation and forced removal, slaughter, and the shipping of Irish to the Carribbean as slaves started in the 12th century and as we see with Northern Ireland/Ulster, it never stopped.

Don't you think this might cause some consternation when you lump them all together? Same as with Germans and Jews and Italians and so on - these aren't just a bunch of "white" people who have different names, these are cultures that had different languages, different histories, different struggles, etc.

If people want to be seen as multi-dimensional beings, and not simply living stereotypes, it starts by seeing others the same way. Perhaps a better way to look at the world is in terms of the class struggle, ie, the economic "winners" vs "losers" - you might find a lot more common ground that way.

First of all, let me say that I love your columns, Ms. Mitchell. The reason that white people don't discuss race is because some of them don't feel that it affects them at all. They aren't reminded of their race as we as black people are. Even living out here in Matteson, riding on the bike path that is open to anyone, as all publis places are, I feel that I am being watched, when some white woman rides by me. The perception that I am going to do something to her is written all over her face, even though statictics show that if she is hurt it'll be by the white man she goes home to every night. I just feel that a lot of white people are content to just let things BE!

Wow. True this is still a racist society and there's no way of avoiding it. My thoughts were to create our own "society" as our ancestors did around the turn of the last century. Of course, the "Man" that was in control of the county at that time released his dregs of society "to put us back in out place." I'm referring to the race riots that swept across America from Oklahoma to Boston. Since then , we as blacks (not particulary keen of African American, that's another blog maybe) have yet to pull ourselves up and carry ourselves as true human beings

I find it very interesting that the majority of comments tend to say something to the effect of "Whites say..." from the African-American posts and "Blacks say..." form the Caucasian posts. Maybe we can start having a civil discussion when the discussions open with an "I feel that..." and speak regarding our personal experience related to our own race and then ask questions regarding another's race.

For example, I came from a town in the NW that is small and had no African Americans at all. Then I moved to a larger city that had an African American population. Based on what I knew from movies, TV, etc., I was scared unless I had seen someone of African descent dressed like Bill Cosby. It wasn't until after I started meeting African Americans through shared activites and employment that I was able to form a balanced opinion of what the African American race was to me.

Now I constantly challenge every assumption I make; do I fall prey to stereotypes? YES! But here's the catch, I recognize them and question them.

Here goes: I feel that a lot of American caucasians and African Americans are are incubated, based on my experience, and that leaves a lot of room for education. Once the social education begins, then the race question can be aknowledged in a constructive manner rather than in such a "He said, She said" such a way.

One more note: I think that history is very important, if we didn't study it, how would we learn from our mistakes? That being said, I am in aggreement with Morgan Freeman when he said, (I'm paraphrasing here) Why do we celebrate Black history when we should be celebrating American history? The black history is all a part of American history and the story is starting to be told because it needs to be, let's keep educating.

Hi Mary, great blog, be glad to see more columnists (Roeper) get a blog. White people talk about race all the time, we just don't hear it. All people talk about race, they will classify different colors and ethnicities. Like my neighbor from Italy, who differentiates between "African" and "Black" and "white" and on and on...it's such a boring subject really.

Growing up and living in Chicago has made me bitter when it comes to race issues. I am so tired of everything being a white or black issue. From our city council members to the media, every issue has to be placed into the race catagory. I am a white male that works for the city. Several of my co-workers (Black males) have also expressed the disgust over the constant race relations in this city. We work as a team and spend many hours after work with each others family's going camping and cookouts. WE have watched each others children. We work and play as a team. A team of friends, co-workers and most of all Americans. With all thats going on in our world, we should all realize the benifits of this great country and stay together as American citizens. We all have the same dream of family, employment, health and homes. We all want our children to grow up in a society that allows them to get the education and spiritual guidence they deserve, but Chicago wont let us ever forget what color we are. I know racism is here to stay. No matter how hard we try to put the horrible past behind us, there has been too much hurt. We are not allowed to forget the past. All these years have not been enough time. Seems we are working on better race relations, but I think we can do so much better. Mabey more positive communication and less "you owe me" attitude.
I am one of those people in Dr. King's dream. One of those people who want us all to be as one in harmony and peace. Dr. King's dream hit a road block in Chicago. The City's leaders need to remove the road block and start getting to the work at hand. Fixing our schools, creating more jobs and housing, and refusing to allow the race card in every day life. Stop the nonsense. I just wish we could start over. One nation, under God.

I know why I don't talk about race around my white friends; because it always leads to an argument. They don't understand and get upset and then I don't understand how they don't understand what i'm talking about and the next thing you know we're arguing. This is great to have a blog like this to have an open discussion without namecalling, etc., and hopefully something will be said to enlighten someone.

Being that white people once owned us they will never see past their own arrogance to actually acknowledge that another race of people can be equal to their "greatness" which as we all know has been manufactured meticulously for centuries

I think that this will be a great forum to discuss race relations. Perhaps, this is a way for people of all races to honestly express themselves and the format may allow some comfort level for those who have trepidations about face-to-face conversations on the subject. I do hope that people will refrain from personal attacks and take this opportunity to get things off their chests in a respectful manner.

Mary, I am a 35 year old white professional male who feels that African Americans have made some of the greatest contributions to this country. I couldn't imagine this country and our society without the key elements that African Americans have brought to the table.
Some of our country's greatest moments are due in large part to the contributions that African Americans have made. One thing that I really feel is that "YES" white Americans can strive more to close the race gap that exist in this country, but white Americans are not the cause of all the problems in African American communities. Where is the accountability of the African American community on the problems that they bring on themselves. The white community gets the lions share of the blame and I don't think that's always the case. If the African American community held the great African Americans of this country ( George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King, Colin Powell, just to name a few)in the same regard that 50 Cent and Tupac Shakur get idolized then they would soon realize that an individual makes the person not your unfortunate surroundings. I want every American regardless of race or religion to live the most prosperous life, because after all we our only on this planet for such a little while.

I am a proud white male and I never shy away from talking about race except possibly at the workplace because I don't want to lose my job over it. But most white people shy away from talking about race because they know they will either be called a racist, or lose their job or pay some other kind of penalty because of the racist double standard that whites have to deal with today. Now I know that most black people today cannot understand that because they have been blessed with the special privileges of being able to say and do whatever they want without being held accountable. Remember, this is the year 2006, and whatever injustices your ancestors had to endure has nothing whatsoever to do with you.

To make a blanket statement that white people do not talk about race is just plain wrong.

I will give you the benefit of the doubt that for the purposes of writing and discussion, one has to make certain leaps in logic. I will also grant you that white people talk about race LESS than some other ethnic groups. The reason, in my opinion, is that often, when whites do not agree with a black person's (or latino, etc.) point of view they are labelled racists.

Rest assured, this will be THE most popular blog on this site!
I agree with many of the posts here - in general, white people's views on race are typically dismissed as "you don't walk in our shoes" or something similar. I can understand that viewpoint but I did grow up in a mixed black/white neighborhood and there are still issues with fault lying on BOTH sides. All too often this becomes politically correct argument and it becomes difficult if not impossible to put any blame on anyone outside the white majority. I do take exception to papers like the Sun Times who will bury black on white crime like the recent attack highlighted in Mary's column. There are SO many issues that will remain for a long time - believe it or not, white people have real ideas and solutions to try to improve things.

Mary, great blog! It's about time. I think the reason why most white's don't talk about race is because in the minds of the average white person, race (their race) doesn't matter. They are treated equally among most, awarded on the merits of their work, and generally love being white and enjoy all that that entails. Most white people don't understand and can't fathom why some blacks and other minorities can't succeed, if they can make it why can't everyone else. That's why they despise affirmative action, they really believe the playing field is already level. I tried to explain to a white friend of mine how the disparity in home ownership effects generations of families. If my grandfather can't get a home loan he has nothing to hand down to my father who has nothing to hand down to me. He couldn't understand the benefits that he has received simply by being born white such as receiving just death benefits of his grandparents which in many cases finance college, or down payments on homes etc. for generations to follow. Hopefully this blog will be a forum for all sides to better understand each other

Just wanted to make a minor correction. Latinos, I don't really like this term but I'll go with it, do talk and worry about race, just as much as black people. The fact that it's not common knowledge that we share a history of slavery and racial persecution keeps us unnecessarily divided, and that is a real shame, especially in such a segregated city as Chicago. I notice the similarities between our (black and latino) neighborhoods, and I find it hilarious how antagonistic our communities sometimes are towards each other.

(Also wanted to add that I don't really consider myself Latino, I'm Mexican!!)

As a regular reader, I have always appreciated your integrity and directness in dealing with the issues that face our city. I think you're an ideal person to host a public discussion on these topics and I look forward to seeing where you take this.

Starting a discussion of race in a public setting is difficult because it's such a personal topic and it affects each of us so differently. It's so much easier for whites to bypass this conversation, to ignore the world of hurt and injustice that discussions of other people's experiences of race bring out. Why give up the comfort of believing everyone's getting more or less what they earned by their actions?

The best discussions of race I've had are always among friends, not in public. We aren't coming from the same race or class experiences, but we know each other's stories and we trust each other. Without that trust, there can be too much fear- fear of being judged "racist," fear of saying something stupid, fear of coming off as condescending, or just fear of sticking your nose where it "doesn't belong."

As long as people see "racism" only as an unforgivable attitude in nasty people and don't recognize that it is a problem that affects everyone in our society, many white people will be afraid to risk being labeled racist, too afraid to talk, much less deal with it. Fear and denial go hand in hand- we have to get past both to make any changes.

As a black female, I feel that some people in my race like to use that as a crutch and an excuse. I myself am tired of hearing my black people say that they can't get a job because of 'the man'. Well, many times it is not anyone's fault but their own. If you think of school as a joke and think that knowing all of the words to the latest rap song is more important than getting a high school diploma or college degree in order to put food on the table, then you are very misguided. I am a teacher in a racially mixed school in the 'burbs and everyday I see white and black students playing and working together. I have yet to hear a racial slur used against anyone during my 5 years of teaching, so obviously, some parents, both black and white, must be doing something right.
To me, race is only an issue if you want it to be. Ever since the OJ trial, the 'race card' has been played to death. Life is too short to worry about skin color, after all, we are all the same color underneath.

I am very happy to hear you discuss this topic of "race" You are right, not many whites will discuss race. I think its because they feel pity for us and do not know how to tell us how sorry they are for us having to go through that. They have no ideal what we experience everyday. Just last week while traveling back from NY, while at the airport, checking in, I was told I could not carry a third bag on the airplane, only two bags were allowed. The third bag was my purse, not a bag. Anyhow I proceeded to place my purse into my backpack as to follow their guidelines. I was somewhat furious because of how they told me and how rude the women was to me. Anyhow, a couple of other young ladies who were traveling with me (all white) also had this same issue of having three bags. But no one said anything to them as they went through the check in. I was angry and expressed my anger to one of the men standing there. He so happened to be black and allowed me to vent because he knew that he had no control and have probably seen this happen over and over again to black women. I am tired of racism and it seems there is nothing you can do about it because people accepts it and just move on.

Thanks.

Whites don't talk a race because they are too busy enjoying themselves. Most are is position of power, they have all of the networking capabilites. They just don't deal with the same problems that blacks deal with. They are living in an entirely different reality than blacks. So, all in all, what goes on with blacks don't affect them. Although, most blacks problems are created by them .i.e lack of funding for education, poor health care, on and off the job discrimation, poor housing,negative portriat of blacks(especially black men) in the media, etc. Only when the majority of whites' hearts truly change to share and help all, and not try to keep everything for themselves, will they feel comfortable taking a race.

I think that the comments from Ashley were right on the money. It is almost never politically correct for a white person to bring up race as a topic of discussion. Kind of like religion and money!

I am an older white woman (47) who has many friends of all races and nationalities, but I would definitely be hesitant about discussing the race issue with most of them! When I worked at a company that was predominantely black, in a black area of Chicago, the black employees invariably said I received special treatment because I was white. That I had many years of previous experience with their brand new sophisticated ERP computer system was of no matter to them. To these "reverse racists" I got my job because I was a blonde white girl, not because of my previous experience or education. It was unfortunate they would think that, even after years of my exhibiting knowledge they did not have and I must say, did not want to acquire. I was friends with many of my fellow employees there, black, white, latino, etc. I don't look at race to decide my friends. I hate when someone of color plays the "race card" in any situation with a white person. It isn't always about race! Sometimes it is Education! Sometimes it is Personality! Sometimes it is Manners,(or lack thereof). Not everyone in Chicago that is not black is a racist!!

I only saw a few clips of the reality TV show Black. White. on Oprah and believe that the reaction the black lady had to the white lady's comments speaks volumes of how white people perceive blacks – angry, aggressive and in your face. I believe if whites felt they could comment without being attacked for voicing their opinion, they would. There is a double standard for a black person to be able to voice their opinion but when a white does, they are a racist. How many white politicians have made comments that the black community perceived as racist and were forced to resign a position. We don’t hold the black politicians (or preachers) to the same standards and we should – maybe then whites would feel more comfortable discussing race.

Mary,
I think a lot white people are actually afraid to talk about race. Blacks, hispanics, Asians, Gays, etc. can talk about race/discrimination and not be labeled a racist no matter what we say. If a white person makes a comment they're instantly labeled a racist. Take the white boy that was beaten by black kids recently. According to story one of the kids said "we beat him because he was a goofy looking white boy". If it were the other way around there would've been an outcry from the black community. What I'm saying basically is that there is a double standard. Minorities can make statements and not be labeled racists and white people cannot.

Mary - I am reading you online from Memphis. I am a native Chicagoan and am happy that you have started this blog. Having lived & worked in Chicago all my adult life until 2 years ago and being an African American working in corporate America, at times I had discussions in the work place with my white counter parts regarding race and race relations. Those conversations have lead me to the belief that the reason whites don't discuss race openly and amongst each other is because it is an issue that does not affect them. Discrimination is not part of their every day lives so to them it doesn't REALLY exist. If they were frequent subjects of racial profiling, discriminatory lending practices, police brutality, inferior education, higher levels of incarceration and lengthier prison terms, etc., etc., etc., then it would be more than a topic. It would be a HOT topic, and rightly so. But I am glad that you have created an open forum for it to be discussed because I think AWARENESS in the white community might lead to more conversations and possibly even better race relations. And to Donna - I agree with most of your comment, however don't believe that Public Assistance (welfare) was created for the benefit of a black baby because the US gov't has PROVEN they could care less about a hungry black child or his mother. Welfare was created BY them FOR them.

Jim,
It's not offensive to say "black guys." Not all blacks want to be called African American. That's an assumption that white folks make. Also, it's entirely possible that Richard Roeper has no business writing about race bc he's white and doesn't have first-person experience. Likewise, assuming that you are white, you may not think he wrote anything racist. If in fact you are white and someone who is black tells you that Roeper did write something that is racist, perhaps you should consider their opinion, given that they have first-hand experience being black and you, presumably, do not.

Your post is interesting and I raise the following observations.

First, all of your examples of when race is brought up are negative. (For example, you say race is brought up when you bemoan the state of education.) The suggestion could be that race carries with it an implied sense of negativity. What are examples of race being used in a positive sense? Was "racism" in play when Todd Stroger was nominated to replace his dad on the ballot? Is racism involved when there is a demand for a "person of color" (whatever that means) to be appointed to a position?

Second, can we reverse the question. Do some blacks, Latinos, Asians, whites hold onto race and racism for their benefit? Instead of asking why whites or Latinos purportedly don't talk about it, do some blacks talk about it non stop. What would happenn if in the discussion of education it was not viewed in light of race but instead in light of simply not getting the job done. What value is added by giving it a racist bent?

Third. I think for many whites "racism" in its negative sense is or was ethnicity. Italians, Irish, German, etc. The focus was not on what your race was but what was your ethnicity. Italian ancestors were mistreated because they were Italian and not some other ethnicity. Similar with the Irish back in the 1900s. Maybe this is the same for the Asians and hispanic. Therefore, what to a black person may be "racism" to a person of Irish decent was and is "ethnicism"

Fourth. White people do not really go around calling themselves white and hispanics rarely call themselves hispanic. They use "Irish" "Italian" "Mexican" "Columbian".... How come it is that when we discusss black people we do not use Moroccan, Jamaican, Haitian, etc ? Though I understand that due to slavery that for some tracing their ancestory to a specific country is problematic, but surely to call every black an African American is simplistic and does not accruately describe their background.

Fifth. Seems the "Human race" is forever categorizing itself and maybe the flaw in the current paradigm is there is a need for recategorization from "blacks" or "African Americans into a different grouping or sub groups (Is this occuring when blacks make distinctions based upon the darkness of skin color?).

Sixth. Where do Indians, Pakistanis, Iraqis ... fit into your categorizations and if they do not why did you exclude them. Were you being racist.

Best wishes on your new endeavor.

Your post is interesting and I raise the following observations.

First, all of your examples of when race is brought up are negative. (For example, you say race is brought up when you bemoan the state of education.) The suggestion could be that race carries with it an implied sense of negativity. What are examples of race being used in a positive sense? Was "racism" in play when Todd Stroger was nominated to replace his dad on the ballot? Is racism involved when there is a demand for a "person of color" (whatever that means) to be appointed to a position?

Second, can we reverse the question. Do some blacks, Latinos, Asians, whites hold onto race and racism for their benefit? Instead of asking why whites or Latinos purportedly don't talk about it, do some blacks talk about it non stop. What would happenn if in the discussion of education it was not viewed in light of race but instead in light of simply not getting the job done. What value is added by giving it a racist bent?

Third. I think for many whites "racism" in its negative sense is or was ethnicity. Italians, Irish, German, etc. The focus was not on what your race was but what was your ethnicity. Italian ancestors were mistreated because they were Italian and not some other ethnicity. Similar with the Irish back in the 1900s. Maybe this is the same for the Asians and hispanic. Therefore, what to a black person may be "racism" to a person of Irish decent was and is "ethnicism"

Fourth. White people do not really go around calling themselves white and hispanics rarely call themselves hispanic. They use "Irish" "Italian" "Mexican" "Columbian".... How come it is that when we discusss black people we do not use Moroccan, Jamaican, Haitian, etc ? Though I understand that due to slavery that for some tracing their ancestory to a specific country is problematic, but surely to call every black an African American is simplistic and does not accruately describe their background.

Fifth. Seems the "Human race" is forever categorizing itself and maybe the flaw in the current paradigm is there is a need for recategorization from "blacks" or "African Americans into a different grouping or sub groups (Is this occuring when blacks make distinctions based upon the darkness of skin color?).

Sixth. Where do Indians, Pakistanis, Iraqis ... fit into your categorizations and if they do not why did you exclude them. Were you being racist.

Best wishes on your new endeavor.

I am white. My family is white. My neighbors are white. In elementary school, my classmates were white.

When I went to high school, I had one classmate who was black.

Thirty years later--after the Air Force, college and the Army--I still mostly encounter white people in my daily endeavors.

I welcome a discussion about race with anyone willing to converse.

I think that you Negroes complain way too much. you dont know when to stop playing the race card, why don't whites talk about race? Bexause it dosen't affect us as much

As an American-Italian I often feel both on the inside and outside of mainstream "white America." I understand that I may reap benefits that African Americans cannot. I also know that my grandparents came here in the 1920s and never owned a slave. In fact, Italians were treated more like blacks then "regular Americans" in those days.
To say that all white people should acknowledge the sins of slavery and pay reparations is a joke and will never happen. This is one reason many whites don't like talking about race. --They do not feel responsible for slavery, nor should they. Those who believe that they deserve an apology and reparations will never be happy -- you should just focus on things going forward.

Another thing that I must say is that many whites get agitated when blacks complain how bad they have it. Come on, this is 2006. Yes, racism still exists but blacks have many advantages than previous generations. Besides, the real problem in the black community -- lack of education, black on black crime, etc. have little to do with white America.

Both Whites and Blacks should focus on themselves and agree that while both groups should be more responsible -- the real problem may be that whites and blacks are two different groups. After 9/11 it seemed like we were all one -- Americans.
How easily we forget.

THIS IS A VERY INTERESTING ISSUE IT'S THE SAME TALK BUT FOR SOME REASON WE ALL SEEM TO TRY TO IGNORE IT BUT IN REALITY WE KNOW ITS THERE .YOU AT SOME POINT IN TIME BLACKS NEED TO REALIZE THAT THEY WERENT THE ONLY SLAVES US LATINO WERE TOO BUT WE DONT TRY TO CLAIM THAT WE DESERVE EVERTHING AND WE SHOULD BE TREATED ANY DIFFERENTLY THAN ANYBODY THE POINT IS THAT THIS SOCIETY IS BASED ON PAST HISTORY AND THATS WHY THERE R ALWAYS ISSUES AND THE DAM RACISM

I think that a lot of whites don't talk about race because they don't have to. Race isn't an issue if your not negatively affected by it. Do you think that a white stock broker who lives on the gold coast is pondering the effects of race on the housing market? I don't think so. Another reason that I think that whites avoid the subject, is that they have historically been the oppressors. That's a hard legacy to inherit. Most of the ills that affect minorites exclusively can be directly traced to the actions of whites, even to this day. There is a reason blacks live on a particular side of town, go to certain schools. There is a reason that downtwon becomes predominantly Polish after 5:00. There is a reason that you can't find a black person working in most of the city's nicer restraunts. There is a reason that most pro athletes are minorities and the cheerleaders are mostly white. There is a reason that that you can't find a white person within ten miles of the Bud Biliken parade, but you can see a black man in a kilt (For GODS SAKE!) on St. Patricks's day.

I think that whites are afraid to talk about race because that are unsure as to who their audience is and how they will respond. We( blacks, hispanics, latino's) come across as being very aggressive to the average white person . Although , I don't beleive that whites are afraid of us or intimidatied by us . I really just think they try to avoid conflict at all cost for fear of hurting or offending. Of course someone will get offended no matter how you present your opinion/facts. But they are not willing to take the risk for fear of confrontation and disorder .

Working for the past 20 years at some of the most segregated organization in Chicago, I get first hand site at how seperate but UNequal Chicago really is today. The glass ceil in Chicago's corporate offices are definitely in effect. As a people, we have regressed all the way back to the 50's and 60's. We have become confortable with the salt off the peanut instead of the whole nut. We don't have to look for the whites only signs. They know we can't afford to get in certain placed to drink from their fountains or use their bathrooms. Our pay is just enough to keep us alive and out of their communities. If we, as a people don't stand up and demand certain rights and equal pay, the hands on the clock will continue to roll back and history will definitely repeat itself. Please don't just wake up and be aware. Stand up and be proactive. With all that being said, what do white people have to talk about. Of course their silent. Silently making things happen to their advantage.

Mary, I love your column. I respect every word you write even though I agree to disagree sometimes.

I am a 40 year old white woman. I think white people are hesitant to talk about race to people they don't know out of fear of being ridiculed. Everyone has the need to feel P.C. today. You don't want to use the wrong terminology or come off as offensive or insensitive in any way. We are afraid of people judging us by our color and not what we believe in - White = Racist. Ironic, huh?

That being said, it is hard for me to feel accountable for slavery as another poster suggested. My parents were first generation Americans. They were poor people who came up during the depression. We lived paycheck to paycheck (when there was one). Nothing my family has done in our lives has oppressed people of other races. We were raised to like people based on WHO they were and not WHAT they were. I have done the same with my kids and their best friends are of other races and it is totally a non-issue to them.

I hope the next generation can do better and make judgements based on moral character vs. race. Great dialogue!

Thanks mary for the well written blog. I wish caucasian would speak out about race more often. Most of the caucasian who speak out on blogs,are those who hurls insults. Where are all the God-fearing caucasian in Chicago. We are a God fearing nation. I would like for the white church to address the racial issue.

Hi mary. As a christian,I would love to sit down with some caucasian to discuss racial issues. I would like to hear their side of the race problem.

I agree that part of the reason why Whites don't want to talk about race is because some Black people are far to quick to call something racist. I am, BTW, a successful African-American female who works in corporate America. And yes, I am still confronted with subtle racism on a regular basis. However, everything isn't racism. I am reminded of the DJ who used the word "coon" instead of "coup" when discussing Condoleezza Rice. It was clear from the context of his sentence he meant "coup". This has happened to all of us - you are thinking of a word and the wrong one comes out. But self-appointed Black leaders cried foul and he was fired. Sometimes Black people need to lighten up. If Black people really want a honest discussion, we need to stop acting like everything that happens to us is due to racism. And White people need to stop acting like racism doesn't exist.

I agree with the comments that white people are afraid of being labeled. I hate the word Nigger. I think it is a hateful and disgusting word that I never use, but in all honesty, I hear it more often from blacks than whites. How can that possible help race relations? I am against reparations, so does that make me a racist?
Some of the difficulty lies in that not everyone within either race feels the same way about what is offensive. What offends one black person might not offend another and the same for whites. But what I do know, we all need to not only talk more about race relations, we need to do a great deal more listening.

Hi Mary
I think most white people have blinders on about race. The same can be applied to all these big shot politicians continuing the behavior that usually sends them to prison in disgrace.

I'm African American and my partner is 100% Irish Catholic and we discuss race all of the time. I'd say about 90 percent of my friends are White and I force them to discuss all the time. Essentially, it's difficult for Whites to discuss race because the American historical narrative makes them feel uncomfortable, guilty and frequently stunned. Most Whites see America as a series of triumphs and discussions of race present them with a counter-intuitive perspective leaving them sadden by the blatant racism of their forbearers and, honestly, quite happy that they were not born Black. Regardless, I will always continue to love my partner even though he'll never fully understand or appreciate the Black experience in America.

I'am an African/American who has been living in Phoenix, AZ since June 2001.
The black population here is less than 6 percent compared to the general population. The lack of blacks living here did not surprise me, but the lack of knowledge by the white people did. I've been involved in many of conversations with my white colleagues at work and I'm shocked at how little they seem to know or even for that matter... care about the African/American's history in this country. Most give the impression that the black man does not even exist in their world. Conversations come up about famous people and when I mention famous blacks,such as Dr. ML King, Malcolm X, or Redd Foxx, most seemed to not know who I was speaking of. I suppose that white people donot speak race because some know little about race other than their own. Why would it be that a race that is supposed to be of great intelligence, be so naive to the history of a race of people that assisted them in building such a great country?

Dear Mary: Interesting column. But when someone begins with penetrating questions, I believe they should by the first up. What are your thougts about race? What irks you about black people? What story do you have to share?

When I was a child, my mother used to say to me that "rules were made for black folks". Once I became an adult, the meaning of that statement became crystal clear. White people don't talk about race because they receive privileges that are race and gender specific. If Robert Downey, Jr, were black, where would he be? How many African-Americans could appear on the Today show and discuss bank robbery as if was just one of those things? The world is based on perceptions. Once they are set, it's hard to change. Integration led to a dilution of black identity and that leads us to curry favor with whites at our own expense.

Art

Hi Mary, I think white people have a lot of unanswered questions about all black people but when they try to talk to a black person and ask questions some black people get angry and wonder why they are asking those "stupid" questions and also the black person states that they are not the spokesperson for all balck people but a white person is just trying to understand how we as black people feel in America.

You add to the Polarization of the City by always talking about race. THis Blog is no different. How can you want to be treated as an equal when you yourself paint color to all stories of your own race? Is that the answer to equality?

Some of us don't talk about race because the conversation gets very condescending at times. I'm reminded of an event sponsored by a local city church to talk about black/white issues. The speakers were all black males, mostly accomplished men and the audience was by and large city dwellers and white(it was a men's meeting). Bless their hearts but they talked to us as though we had never seen a black person before and couldn't possibly comprehend that some people wouldn't like them because of their skin color. Nothing was accomplished but they may have felt better at getting some things of their chests I guess.

Mary I'm a white 54 year old male and have no problem discussing race. Mary, Here's my question for you.How come some black americans from the projects can be successful and others can't? We all can tell that you became successful. I've worked for the same company for over 35 years and seen many black/americans succeed. I have an answer and will share it but I want other opinions. The more I try to find differences between blacks and whites,I find the more we are alike. When I was a kid growing and told my parents that Mrs. Jones hit me with a broom. My parents would say what did you do wrong? Then I would get punished. I found out that the same happened to the black workers. I think at times when Mary talks about family,we all can relate. I may not agree with all of Mary's olumns rspect the point she's trying to get across.

Hi Mary: Loved your first topic for your blog. I am a black female syndicated music and entertainment writer based in Sacramento, California. And I have to say, although California touts itself as being progressive and the "golden, sunshine state," still, it's pretty racist too.
You're right. White people talk about blacks often with great contempt, but put them in a setting where they can publicly discuss these issues and one of the first things they'll say is, "Oh I don't see race when I look at people. I just see people."

How ridiculous is that? That is so offensive to me because it says, they aren't even willing to recognize that we are different.

So until White America can come to grips with race, I'm afraid we'll be having this conversation for some time. But with you leading the charge, I am confident that something positive will come out of it.

All The Best,

Lana K. Wilson-Combs
President/CEO N2Entertainment.net
Lanawriter@worldnet.att.net

This is simple white poeple like myself do not want to be labled as a racist.

I agree with Patrick let the people speak their mind without excessive filtering everybody here is a consenting adult(or close to it)only then we will have a honest ,open forum...other then that keep up the good work...

Hi Mary,

Why would anyone want to get at the heart of a matter they have greatly benefitted from throughout the years. White America view Blacks as lazy complainers who only want handouts.
What's funny is all the government programs that White America view as the savior for Black America were created to give White Folks relief.

Best Wishes

Mary, I've always enjoyed reading your column. I wish you the best of luck on your blog.

Mary, one of the earlier comments brought up the issue of reparations. What's your take on the issue?

Lets say it does happen: reparations are going to be paid out.

Should first generation (My grandpa from Italy), second generation (dad), or third generation (me) Americans have to pay for a horrible crime that happened centuries ago?

Mary, been reading your column for years...Good stuff...Has anyone ever wondered if race relations aren't meant to be repaired? Weren't we all created equal, yet different? Doesn't different create differences? The plan is not ours to fix, but to watch unfold by God. All we can truly do is try our best to live peacefully & do unto others as they do unto you...Whether they be Black, White, Yellow or Brown & all colors in between...

White people do talk about race. We don't do it as much in mixed public because the self appointed civil rights leaders have made any criticism of blacks by whites 'racist'.

White people don't talk about race because any successful black person that is identified is labeled as either an "uncle tom" or some pawn in the "white man's" chess game. As is the case in every major pro sport. Race is a reality not a reason. When people like J.J. speak and are considered the voice of an entire people, race relations take a hit. You cannot be a minister and an adulterer and defend gang members involved in a school riot and retain an aura of credibility. As a white cat, I went to a mixed race high school, not quite 50/50 white/black but very close, and several of the smartest students were black. Not only that, but these same students live in the "bad" part of town. Talking about race is basically a waste of time, if it is being used as an excuse for failure. Many whites fail, many blacks succeed. Life will only give you what you give it. If you view your color, or maybe your apperance or height, weight, whatever your deal may be, allowing your self-percieved faults to control your efforts, is a self-fullfilling prophecy of failure. Life in and of itself is not fair, you are not getting everything the Hilton sisters have and I am not getting the accolades Tiger gets, find your niche in this life, try to treat people half-way decent and accept decent treatment when it's given and your time on this rock will not only be better for you but everyone else. It's easy to hate, it's easy to blame and it's easy to give up, it's Rewarding to strive for understanding, it's Rewarding to help those who help themselves, and it's rewarding to kiss your kids goodnight knowing that you have done everything you can to give them a world, country, state or city to be safe, secure and happy in.

As someone who has a Pakistani father and a (white) American mother I hope you reflect on the conclusions you have reached that "Asians" don't talk about race and "white people" don't talk about race.

How did you come to this conclusion?

If race is the discussion, maybe some of the white people were there to learn rather than feeling they should verbally contribute to the dialogue. The important point - they were there to hear what others have to say. I would hope that would count for something.

I am usually at a loss in discussing the subject because I do not want to say something offensive because I couldn't possibly accurately speak to your experience. I will say this, I was in a grocery store and an African American boy (10-11 years old) ran into me with his shopping cart. I said loudly, "ouch!" While he muttered "sorry," his mother did not even act like I existed. She said nothing to her son about it and continue to talk to him about shopping.

I did walk away sad, angry, and I wondered if she acted the way she did because of the color of my skin. While I would be unable to vocalize this in a crowd of people (because I would be afraid to have read the situation completely incorrectly), I felt it might be worth discussing here.

I think it would be sad if that truly is what motivated her. Who knows? I don't know her personality beyond the uncool move at the grocery store so I really couldn't begin to guess beyond a knee-jerk reaction.

Being Muslim and being Pakistani, I am aware of racism first-hand. And I know that many of us "Asians" do dialogue about the issues related to racism. It almost seems politically correct to hate Muslims, Arabs, and Middle Easterners. Many Muslims have stood up in protest but that just doesn't seem as newsworthy to report.

I am fearful of the day that my future children experience this hatred and ignorance first-hand.

Mary, it's me, Chad again...I just wrote some real peacefull stuff a moment ago, but now I gotta add some more blunt reality to it...Do we as black people really care about white people admitting racial issues? You & I both know plenty of Black people that we are racist against as white people may be on us...How many times have Black people uttered the phrase "I can't stand that Nigga Sh.." We don't get along as a people & hate on each other so much, it's ridiculous...How can we even to begin to want the respect of other races when we don't respect ourselves on a whole? I know the slavery has divided us & mentally split us to the core, but at some point the same excuses, whether true or not, don't do anything but make sure another generation of Blacks recite the same story...If Blacks were in charge of this country, would racism go away? I don't think so...We need to focus on creating a new story for our kids to recite to their kids...There is no knowledge being hidden from us...We need to preach things like reading & learning more so we can erase the most real stereotype that exists.."You wanna hide something from a nigga, then put it in a book".

Mary, I think the reason why whites don't speak about race is simply because they're afraid of being labeled racist because of what they might say or feel. When whites DO speak on race with people of other colors, they tend to do so with people they feel will try to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do.

I've had race conversations with a lot of white people. And the reason they'll talk to me, a black female is because of our similar backgrounds and education and social class. And what comes out is that we pretty much feel the exact same way on many subjects of race, it's just that if they were to voice it, they'd be labeled racist, whereas if *I* voice it, it's justified by other blacks as not being racist, but being REAL merely because I'm black. Is that fair? No, it's not. And whites see this and wonder what's the point in trying.

It's a slippery slope when you talk about race. Because if you say ANYTHING negative about a minority or a minority group, you automatically get labeled as racist, even if you state what is painfully obvious and true. Take for instance a teacher in a predominantly black school. Here's what would happen if the teacher told the parent their child was a troublemaker in school. If that teacher is black, they get a huge pass and the focus would be on the child. If that teacher is white, they must walk on eggshells, because a white person calling a black person a troublemaker would be considered racist. And the focus is then on "why is this racist teacher allowed to work here" instead of the child when this teacher obviously doesn't understand black people. How must this make this white teacher feel? This teacher is trying to help and this is what the teacher gets. Does anyone ever care about that? Because they should.

I think part of the blame lies with some (not all, but some) minority people using the race card where it is not justified or warranted. I think the other part of the blame lies with whites for shying away from making waves and actually honestly talking about race. And honestly, why should they bother to talk about it if they're just gonna be labeled a racist?

My most recent conversation on race with a white person focused on the failure of some blacks to overcome poverty, and gangs, and drug use, and don't do anything to better themselves when given the opportunities to. My friend (who is from a predominantly white area) and I concluded that regardless of race, many people in the USA refuse to take responsibility for their actions and choices and instead want to blame it on anything and everything but themselves, and that sort of culture, not race or racism was the problem. What would have happened had he talked with someone else who wouldn't consider his thoughts and opinions as valid and instead saw them only as racist simply because of his skin color? Would he ever speak about race issues again? Would he even feel comfortable around black people if he received a reaction like that?

It works both ways folks. Unless there is open dialogue, things will not get better. And unless whites feel welcome and comfortable in joining that dialogue, it's not going to happen.

Point of clarification. You say "we" live in a city....., when, in fact, you do not live in Chicago.

Mary, I love your column...I've been reading it for years, but my cynicism runs deep because such "open dialogue" will not get us anywhere. Racism/Bigotry is a deceptively sexy issue to discuss...you proved it by wrapping it into the satin sheets of your blog...and sadly, these responses are not going to give you any solutions to the problem. But the tongues will be wagging, though!

Look at the posts. Your question is being answered by the respondents, but where are the solutions? Face it, the answers you will get is "because whites are this...and blacks play the race card..." blah, blah, blah"
... ad nauseaum!

Race relations between blacks and whites in the U.S. has been and continues to be a nasty conundrum.

Racial controversies make good copy for the press (see the O.J. circus/Katrina etc.) mainly because it's an issue that will not be solved...at least not today. As an African American, I have to bear bigoted slights not only from Caucasians, but the East Indian (who, by the way, are as dark in skin complexion as we are...go figure that one out), Asian and other immigrants who are "warned" to stay away from black people before coming to this country.

Our solution may lie in today's youth. It is my hope that racism will dissipate when younger generations take over. I am encouraged to see young people embracing their unique differences...especially in our schools. Granted, they still grapple with some residual issues of race, but at least they are more accepting of a multicultural world. Maybe then we can put this nasty issue to rest once and for all. We can only hope.


Stephanie,

Thanks for clearing that up. One thing though, to say that a white person has no business discussing race is exactly the kind of statement that keeps most of us from joining these discussions in public forums. If we can have no opinion because we're not black, how can we ever have an open conversation on the subject?

I'm white and have no problems or hang-ups talking about race-related issues. I'd love to participate in a broader face-to-face discussion about it.

I'm white and I don't care anymore. No matter what we do or say, it will be wrong and we will ALWAYS have to walk on eggshells when it comes to race. Blacks will always use race as a club over your head. So why bother? I'm tired of hearing about your problems and how I cause(d) them. Educate yourself and have a good life or don't. I don't care. Take my tax money and stay away from me. I get through my work day with my mouth shut and a dumb smile on my face. I go home to my white community with my white friends and my white family and I enjoy my life immensely. I don't care about diversity and I don't need it. Have a good one.

I think its hard for some whites to talk about race because some of their views might be seen as "insensitive" or "out of touch". Its also very uncomfortable for many of them to discuss it because race is such a explosive topic. But as a African-American male, I usually don't make it an issue with my White associates because it causes many to shut down. It's true that we in Chicago need a frank discussion about race, but until many of our own stop playing the victim role, it will be difficult, it not impossible, to have this disucssion.

If you reinforce a habit good or bad over and over again you will achieve a certain habit desireable or not. Thats why the race issue is so messed up. People act the way they do because they can. However doing the right thing in Chicago doesnt seem to be the way. Make a person be accountable for themselves by themselves and stop the free rides.

The problem whites have with blacks is all the complaining. Everyone has a person at work or a friend who does nothing but complain. We tend to avoid that person because negativity is not an "attractive" personality trait. Why would we want to be around someone who has nothing good to say? It's the same thing with black people, and with all due respect, especially you Mrs. Mitchell. Your columns are so racist that I'm suprised you still have a job (I can give you many examples if you need me to). But that is not the point. If all a person wants to do is complain, they have to expect people (in this case, white people) to avoid them.
Another reason white people do not want to be around black people is the double standard our society wrongly accepts. If a black comedian imitates a white person's voice and mannerisms, it's funny. If a white comedian imitates a black person's voice and mannerisms, it's racist. If a black woman calls a white man "that White Boy", it could or could not be construed as racist, but if a white person calls a black person "that Black Boy", every columnist, black politician, and NAACP official cries to the heavens about all the "injustice".
If you really want white people and black people to get along and become less segregated, then we all have to play by the same rules. Until that happens, this city will stay the same

People in Chicago do not want a open discussion on race. Two topics that will surely start a fight. Richard J. Daley and Harold Washington. As a child we were told to read the book "Boss" by Mike Royko, it opened my eyes then and I had my kids read it. Amazing book even for today. Also, when Harold ran for mayor. The city was overwhelmingly Democratic, but for some reason, whites flocked to the Republican candidate, there were nasty and vicious racist marches against Harold, and to this day, when you approach any white person who was in Chicago then, they will lie to your face and tell you they voted for Harold. Now, fast foward, the way Chicago is constructed, as a black person, you cannot get a job for private companies unless you are a far superior candidate, cannot work for the city as a manager, and the service industry will only take latinos. The contracts are a joke, as most of them are fronts for white men and their wives. All of this could be depressing but many of us press on, hoping for opportunity and wishing for hope. Keep up the great work Mary.

Mary;

I just recently found out what a blog is...

Let's put this to rest, white people will never understand the plight of Black people because they've never walked in our shoes. However, I'm also tired of Black people blaming everyone but themselves. It's true, white people don't stand on our corners (or theirs either) and sell drugs to the first person that walks up or drives up, we're doing this, however, I do see a lot of white people in my neighborhood buying, which makes them just as guilty of robbing the neighborhood of decency. White people aren't doing drive-bys in our neighborhoods and taking innocent lives because they missed their intended mark, we are. White people are breaking into our houses while we're at work earning a dollar, we are...you see where I'm going here? I've tried to raise sons that would work hard, become responsible adults and contribute to society positively, however, they chose as early as 15 to do the things that I'm so against, sell drugs and steal. My great-grandmother, grandmother and mother didn't work in the cotton fields to see their future go down the tubes with the click of a cell key. We need to get over the fact that yes, we were done wrong, yes, we were the only class of people who didn't make it to America by choice, but by force, yes, the Constitution only declares us as an 1/8th of being called human, yes, we still get pulled over far more than any other race of people, but, when will we wake up and say enough is enough???

I don't care about the thoughts of any white person about me and mine, which I'm sure the reverse is true, but I know what I'm trying to accomplish as an American who happens to be of African decent. I was born and raised here, my parents were born and raised here, so that makes me an American living in Chicago who happens to be Black.

Don't think for one minute that this is over, it's just the beginning, so Mary, keep your lines open, because there's a lot of hate out there and you just opened up the flood gates with your blog....

May God continue to bless your gift.

Regards,

Rochelle

Where is the logic to the excuse "whites dont like to talk honestly about race because they are afraid to be labeled a racist"that is like saying people who talk about crime should be afraid of being labeled a criminal,what a cop out, just reading these posts show the problems that whites have .They have been falsely led to believe blacks want something for free even though things like social sercices were initially made to help them out not blacks ,and the majority of people on govt.assistance are white,Kind of hypocritical for a race of people who had slaves to do the work that they were too lazy to do themselves (history and statistics back up my statements)Blacks will not think you are racist if you are honest and open to them about race.Most whites dont like to speak about race because they are afraid to open up "old"wounds,that are actually not old to blacks due to the fact we still have to endure racism everyday(while whites try to ignorantly tell us to get over it ,how can w get over something that still is happening to us everyday?they seem not to realize our people sweated,bled and died to make this country a great country it is today(in spite of racism)just look at the some of the thousands of inventions blacks have made the refrigerator,air conditioner and stop lights things that whites would have a hard time surviving without(but are not given credit for).Blacks have also served honorably in almost every major war.(I am a veteran,my father was a veteran and my son has just completed his third tour in Iraq)While I might have been against this war I have always supported the troops. I have even noticed alot of Illegal immigrants coming to our country with a inaccurate perception of blacks mostly incouraged by whites who have this divide and conquer theory about minorities.Mostly racism is based on fear and ignorance anyway ,alot of whites have a aversion toward seeking the truth instead wanting to keep blacks down by making statements like Jesse Jackson is our "leader" (a typical stereotype)thats like saying because Hitler was white he was white peoples leader(not comparing Jesse to Hitler but I hope you can see the ridiculousness of statements made by some whites)I always tell people not to believe the hype when it comes to people trying to tell them about playing the race card ,blacks have had the race card played on them for 400 years.Not all whites are clueless and not all blacks are blameless when it comes to social ills ,but if you can understand how someone in a abusive "relationship" would be affected psychologically(post traumatic stress etc)how could whites not understand how blacks have been affected in a 400 year old abusive relationship (with the powers that be in America)No one is blaming all blacks problems on whites, but how can whites not understand the frustration and anger alot of blacks feel is beyond me.People just want to be treated fairly have a good job,take care of their families,not to be abused by the police(where is the public outcry by whites about Jon Burge torturing chicago citizens?)or stereotyped by society.There is exceptions to every rule all whites are not racist just like all black youths are not gangbangers and rappers.Year after year I have been writing about the state of race relations but due to the fact alot of folks wanted society to think that there was not anymore racism and was frightened that affirmative action and reparations were another "ploy"for blacks to get something for nothing, the ugly face of racism became less overt in alot of situations especially in our P.C society.I think for whites and blacks to move ahead we should should "not"forget the history of racism ,because if we do and dont learn from our mistakes .WE ARE going to repeat them!As far as being a colorblind society. that wont work ,why dont we try respecting each other, no matter what a persons'color is and maybe one day we can achieve some of the things Martin Luther King dreamed about....Thanks for giving us this forum to give our opinions Ms.Mitchell ,its been long overdue.

well, this may be the jist of the problem:

"Being that white people once owned us"

No, this implies that white people were all some sort of "common stock" holders in slavery, like a mutual fund or something.

Not true. In fact, only a very small percentage of people ever owned slaves.

From reading the blog this is obviously a major sticking point between folks - as people can see, folks who got to the USA well after the Civil War see no reason why they should bear reponsibility for actions taken by others. Should American blacks feel responsibility for the actions taken in Rwanda just because you're the same color? Of course not, two different groups of people altogether.

I would suggest that black folks stick to the facts, and not make these generalizations.

The generalizations have a tendency to make people ignore other important points, such as bias in hiring, home lending/redlining, and other, REAL problems.

If people really want to go back to slaveholders to get a pound of justice, look up the current owners of the land that was plantations and make a case that reimbursement is due.

Lastly, how about a shout out periodically recognizing the hundreds of thousands of "white" who got shot full of holes and had legs sawed off while fighting for the North? Is that too much to ask? Many of these folks were volunteers, like my great-great-great-grandfathers, is their suffering ever going to get any respect?

I think you you are so right. I think getting our issues out in the open can clear the air and may be one day we can all live in harmony.

White people "don't talk about race" becauses they immediately get tagged as "racist", and it's a losing discussion from that point on...

Mary,

Thank you for your column which always addresses issues and opinions that are not necessarily heard in mainstream media (newspapers, television, radio).

I am originally from Chicago but now live in Mississippi. I continue to see what is going on in Chicago, and one of the ways is by reading the Sun-Times. Your column is a must-read along with a few others.

Thank you for being the voice of not just African Americans, but everyone. And my hope is that through your column, there will be an increase in open dialogue, and communities will be open to each others views and see life from a different perspective.

Whites don't talk about race because they benefit from racism. I should say upper middle class whites benefit economically and socially from segreagation.
White people will never talk about race and class,because however unfair the system is they have no desire to change it.

Thanks for posting my comments but there was a mix-up on the July 26 blog postings. You posted my blog comments under Craig Jackson (a 35 year old white male), I don't fit any part of that description (not that there's anything wrong with it)and his comments were attributed to me (Gerry Watters).

In my experience with talking about race amongst my white friends I come to the same conclusion every time...and that is that it seems difficult for non-racist white people to fully realize how racist some of their brethren can be. Since they don't have those thoughts they find it hard to believe that what I tell them actually happens. One time I was stopped at 7:30am in a northern suburb on the way to work. My company makes us wear company shirts so if you account for the time of day and my wardrobe I was obviously on the way to work and not some drug deal. The officer then proceeded to place me in the back seat of his squad car while he called the canine unit to search my car. He explained that this was standard procedure like I was an idiot. I relayed this to my white friends and they couldn't believe it. I told them that's because you aren't racist but there are others of your race who still look at Blacks as a mark on their society. The thing that really gets me is white people have no reason at all to hate us, I mean no reason at all. What have we done? Is it guilt?

Most whites don't waste their time dealing with race issues because most whites know that blacks are just playing the race card when they complain about a lack of funding for education, or lack of housing etc. And most whites know that they are despised by most blacks, so why interact with people who hate you(black on white crime stats proves this) Playing the race card today is an "industry" or a money making venture. Jesse Jackson learned this long ago and it has made him a millionaire. The latest example of this is Diann Burns' accusing a construction company of racism while building her house. It's this type of lying about racism that makes most whites not even want to look at or deal with blacks. The playing of the race card also irks whites because we wonder how can a race of people complain about racism when that race of people gets all of these special privileges handed to them in the form of affirmative action, racial quotas and other set aside programs. When was the last time you saw a white bus driver or white postal worker in Chicago? With the black privilege that exists today white people don't want to hear about black people's problems. BTW, the problems that I hear exist in the black community are all self inflicted. Such as 70% out of wedlock birth rates, black fathers abandoning their kids, etc. That behavior is why blacks are poorer than whites, not anything we did. I do have a solution to this problem and it's a solution Cassius Clay promoted in the late 60's and what Farrakhan has been saying for years. That solution is separation of territories into two territories. One white territory and one black territory. That way we wouldn't have to deal with this stress and that way blacks wouldn't have to deal with us "evil, racist" white people who are always keeping them down. I would think blacks would like this idea since whites are the sole root of all of their problems. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I think that before we have a discussion about race, by white or black people, we need to have some history lessons about the role race played in the development of this country. I'm not talking about the kind of history lessons in textbooks like the rehashing of big events or great people but an honest portrayal of how people lived during various periods and places in American history and how they were affected by or adjusted to conditions and changes in society. What we'd come to understand is that black, white and every other kind of people have more in common that differences.

But our educational system doesn't teach true history and our media perpetuate myths and stereotypes so we really don't understand the whys or wherefores of how we got to this point in time and place. Most of us don't have a clue about the real history of the City of Chicago much less of the whole country.

How many people, black or white, realize that the average black person in this country, 75% - 80%, can trace their their family back to the 1700's, on both parents sides and many can trace back much further? Keeping in mind that the trans-Atlantic slave trade to America was deemed illegal in 1812, a point in time when a majority of the population in what would become the Confederate states were black, is it any wonder that 10th or 12th generation black Americans have a different perspective on race relations than white Americans who's ancestors began arriving here en-masse in the 1850's and peaking in the early 1900's. Before we start the discussion on race we need to go to school for some history lessons.

As white man married to black woman I gotta agree to some extent with some of the white people who have posted. To some extent...

I think it is a cop-out on some level that white people feel like they are just going to be on the losing side of the argument no matter what you say in that kind of charged debate. On the other hand, I think there is a solid nugget of truth in it. It is extremely hard to remove yourself from being persecutor role even if you are the furthest thing from it. It stifles debate.

Personally I see racism on both sides of the fence, but if you are asking me why those white folks didn't speak up at that meeting I'd say it was because they feared being painted as the bad person in the debate.

But at least they were THERE. They were listening and learning.

further thoughts this morning, are that perhaps we are confusing two groups of "white" people, namely, those who gre up here (like myself), and those who move here later in life. in my experience, Chicago natives of all colors are quite frank with these discussions, whereas our suburban counterparts are not. Personally, I have a hard time feeling comfortable in an all-white environment, it just feels wrong. I imagine many other people feel the same way due to their upbringing, you know?

Mary,
Congrats on your new venture into blogging. I think your discussion is great. I am an American who happens to be black and my parents were sharecroppers in Mississippi.

I am not a native Chicagoan. As a single woman working downtown I decided to live in downtown and on the subject of race relations I’ve observed that:

1. White people (all races) who live downtown/gold coast Chicago are exposed to disproportionately large numbers of derelict, undesirable, smelly black men! If I were white and had not been exposed to positive images of black people would I be prejudiced?? Occasionally I observe normal hard working blacks walking in the area, but it’s rare. I am overwhelmed by the numbers of troubled black men begging me for money on my way to work. I must also add that since I am a black woman, these men often ask me for money like I’m their mother or want me to sleep with or take them in. Now occasionally whites or women are also in a bad way but 98% of the time it's a black male.

To the lady who complained about shirtless white men jogging through her neighborhood, every day thugged out, dirty, unwashed blacks walk up and down Astor, State and Dearborn streets in the gold coasts. Don’t believe me? Observe Clark & Division streets or get visit the Gold Coast.

I love Lincoln Park and the Lakefront. Do you know how many times I’ve turned my head to keep from watching some black man pee in one of our beautiful city parks? Do you know how many times I’ve turned my head to avoid some naked man sleeping in our parks? Do you know how many times I’ve observed loud, sagging groups of young black boys walking up and down state/Dearborn streets towards the parks? Can you blame the neighbors for looking?

Solution: People need to realize that hip hop is entertainment. There is no excuse for walking around stinking, smelly and acting without class. Even a homeless person can clean up somewhere and young people should be taught to be more refined. The behavior celebrated in the negative aspect of hip hop culture is associated with everything bad, ie: Thomas Sowells “Black Rednecks and White Liberals?. Whites particularly more elite need more contact with normal, hard working, well behaved, ambitious black people to balance out all of the negative that they encounter. Just as an encounter with a blond hair blue eyed Turkish Moslem changed Malcolm X, positive blacks have the same ability to change the opinions of elite.

Solution 2: We must examine the child support laws to combat many of the problems black men and men at large face. Many of the men I referenced earlier lead that life bc it’s not worth it for them to work. They have so many children that child support payments would mean working for free. Furthermore, if they get into the system by getting a job, they will go to jail if they fall too far behind in their child support payments. So it’s just easier for them to live on the fringes of society. I get tired of hearing white people tell these people to simply get a job, but why get a job if your child support payments will eat up all your check?


Point 2: black people in this town sequester themselves in their own neighborhoods and SOMETIMES forget that we aren’t living on plantations. Hint: nice stuff is not just for white people anymore. Why can’t we fix up our neighborhoods more? Why can’t we treat each other with more respect? How can we expect whites to respect us if we don’t’ respect ourselves?

Point 3: Black people need to become more mainstream and take advantage of what American citizenship provides. So many of our liberal leaders decry capitalism and it’s woes, but is there a better system in the world? In most countries your destiny is determined by birth. That is not our case as blacks in this country. We often complain, but we live in one of the rare countries that allows us to rise out of our circumstances. Plus, as one South Asian immigrant stated, “I want to live in America the land of opportunity. I want to live where poor people can be fat.? As blacks we have to always remember that despite our challenges we still live better than most people in the world and many of us could stand to miss a meal or two while most in the third world struggle to barely eat and do not enjoy the lifestyle that even the poor have in this country. This is one reason that other immigrants/minorities have issues with blacks. One the good side, blacks are entering entrepreneurship in record numbers.

I think that white people need to study black history and ancient African history. It would help them to better understand. It would also help if policy makes would examine barriers to entrepreneurship.

Funny how I see the same answers. If you are "white", you cannot make comments about other races because that makes you a racist - FACT! Then I see answers from "blacks" making assumptions as to how whites are thinking and feeling. I keep reading "it doesn't affect them" WHAT!??? I have lived in Chicago my entire life attending public schools & was a minority in my high school. I was constantly picked on, and got into physical fights because I was the "WHITE B___" I've spent most of my life being the BAD GUY, simply because I'm "white". BTW - I'm an Irish/Italian woman and do not appreciate being seen as a COLOR before anything. Therefore, I don't do that to others. A woman is insulted when white people say they don't notice race!? Well maybe she's the one with the problem noticing, judging and making assumptions based on the color of SKIN!
So if I'm white and have this "perfect life" why aren't I rich living in a beautiful house? Why was I a top employee at a prior job but HATED by the supervisor (and fired by her)? Why do I have some of my own neighbors slam the door on me holding laundry, etc. or completely ingore me when I say Good Morning!? Why is my brother arrested or stopped by the police for no reason regularly - WITH GROCERIES in the middle of the day - in our Rogers Park neighborhood? Gee,I thought none of this was supposed to happen to white people! EVERYBODY has struggles in life. I don't blame anyone for the choices I've made and I refuse to group people by anything other than the way they treat me. Am I supposed to hate some of my dearest friends because of what others have done to me? A black gay man (double whammy)or a Puerto Rican lesbian woman (triple whammy) or how about friends of nearly half my life because they're Mexican? (Yes, there is a difference between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans!) According to the stereotypical replies to your column, I guess I should! I should also mention I'm sick of hearing jokes of how "white people are" and guess what!! Black is not the only color that is beautiful!! PLEASE...no matter what color you are - judge people by how they TREAT you! Not by how good, bad, easy or hard you think they have had it! This topic truly hurts my heart everytime it's brought up. Let's respect each other and I just bet, we'll all be much happier in this world.

What's up Ms. Mitchell,

Sometimes I agree with what you say(i.e. on Jesse Jackson, R.Kelly, and your feelings on what happened to you in Wrigleyville) and sometimes I don't (i.e. your comments on the suntimes' 3-part series on the black middle-class last year).
I think that the reason why most whites wont talk about race is because of two reasons : one is most of them think it doesnt affect them and two I know for a fact that some whites dont want to be labeled as racists if they discuss race.


I am from Milwaukee (another 'hyper segregated' city, along with San Francisco, Boston, New Orleans and on & on) I recently took the Red line to the southernmost stop, took the 95 bus west to Beverly. (I think this route goes through Englewood) anyway, a window had been pushed out of the frame and was banging against the side of the bus. I cautioned the woman in front of me to be careful not to get hit or pinched by it. She said "They send these busses out knowing they are wrecked, but they don't care, because they know where they will be sent." That about made me cry...whether there is a hateful bus company bureaucrat or not, there is that awareness that a whole community gets the back-of-the-hand treatment because of who they are and where they live. On the northbound bus up Western I saw a man with a large birthday cake. He got off and headed east at about 45th or so. When I got home I heard that a little girl was SHOT IN THE HEAD AT HER OWN BIRTHDAY PARTY!!! Can there be anything more gut-wrenchingly tragic? I assume the cake I saw was for some other little child's party...but I do not know. Why don't whites talk about race? We are afraid, sorry, guilty, and fearful of deserved contempt. We ignore the fact that delightful, loveable people in our midst are suffering. Who wouldn't be a little uncomfortable talking about it? We will all be shaking in our shoes on judgement day when asked why we never talked about it.

Nature vs. Nurture. And, unfortunately, we have pretty much exhausted all the arguments for "nurture" being the reason as to why people do what they do.

why does 14% of the population commit 90% of the violent street crimes? since when has kicking at someones head excusable due to the "politically charged neighborhood" in which those Criminals chose to do that crime?

why cant I use an ATM on the south side of town at night?
why do so many blacks accept their categorization and remain dependent on people who have done absolutely nothing for them? (Im looking at you, Jesse JAckson.)

Why do we fool ourselves into thinking that being poor causes violence?

Read marys' apologies and excuses for the Three Criminals of Beverly. These kids are destined for the criminal justice system. The same for the boys in teh school a few motnhs ago who attacked the white boy in the bathroom, smeared feces on him, broke his jaw...for no reason. oh wait, they were poor, thats why. BS. all mary said is they should have to walk through the streets and be chastised by the community.

where are their parents? MAry thinks that simpply because the mothers work that this is why they refuse to raise their kids. "we are too bone tired...!?!?"

everyone works, mary. everyone is tired at the end of the day. IF you wnat kids, you gotta keep up with them. Too bad.

Mary, somewhere in your blog you answered your own question. Black people talk about race amongbt themselves. So do others. Just like Blacks, we discuss the issue amongst each other. I am sure that Asians discuss their issues among each other just like Hispanics, Blacks. I am also sure that each ethnic group discusses ethnicity. The discussion is out there.

I really believe that race, as an issue is somewhat passe. Economic conditions have overtaken social issues, especially since more people of all races have achieved middle class status. We are more worried about interest rates, gas prices, and tuition than we are about our differences.

Ms. Mitchell... love the column and the new blog!

Just a few random thoughts:

I am a BLACK American! The whole African-American title kills me. I know the whole title thing is another issue, but I needed to put that out there. I also need to put out there that my father is a WHITE American. Not a Irish-American, not a European-American, a Caucasian. Thus, why African?

Maybe because I don't know him or his family is why it is a hot topic for me! Maybe because they chose not to accept me. Maybe because my Mother did not want me to deal with all that comes with being bi-racial.

Maybe, Maybe, Maybe...

Can we all just get along?

"Without struggle there is no progress" right?

Race will always be an issue because every other race just has to be better than the other.

Mary,
Perhaps white people are not discussing race, because it does not effect them the way that it would effect a minority in this country. Lets face it, they do not have the same hurdles that we as African-Americans do in this country. I also think that we as African-Americans should not be concerning ourselves with what white people are discussing, but however we need to be concerning ourselves with the issues that effect our community. Why are our schools so screwed up? Why are our kids more concerned with Leaning with it, and rocking with it, instead learning something. That is our issue! That is our fight! We need to concern ourselves with building up our community before we can focus on whether or not white people or discussing race.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this. I am a black divorced woman of a 9 year old boy. I am blessed to be able to pay for him to go to a private school. In that school its like a litte United Nations and I love it. I think if more people (no matter what their race) had the opportunity to grow up around different kinds of people there would be a better understanding of racial issues.

I currently live in Chatham and I also grew up here. Our neighborhood is about 99% black. (Yes, I still like using the black word). It isn't that white people are not welcome its just that the city is so segregated that people have a negative view of different parts of the city. The parents of my sons friends who have come to our home are pleasantly surprised about the neighborhood we live in.

I have some white friends and we often have discussions about race. I think these discussions help both sides to understand each other better. Keep this blog going.

I enjoy reading your articles especially surrounding race relations.
I'm currently reading a book about Institutional Racism which is opening my eyes to how racism is still so prevelant. One factor that prevents the majority of white people from truly understanding racism is the blame factor. I think most whites look at racism as a black or minority issue. Truly racism and policies created to impede black progress rarely does prohibit whites from living the kind of life they set out to lead. Racism needs to be redefined and people of all races need to understand that racism truly does still exist. It's beyond racial epithets and slurs, real racism exists in real estate, healthcare, jobs, politics,education(The Institutions).If people of all races especially whites could understand how racist behavior transformed into a heiarchy of whites being considered the elite people of society.

When you see a homeless person on the street do you solely blame them for their situation? Do people choose to live in poverty?

I'm not making excuses by using racism as a factor, it truly does exist. By me saying that racism does exist I'm not blaming all whites are referring to them as racists.I just would like acknowledgement that race plays a huge factor in how your life will form. In order for change to occur we must atleast be able to discuss the problem. Sure blacks and all other minorites can discuss racism until we are blue in the face. But whites need to be more involved in trying to find a solution for Institutional Racism. Mainly because Institutional racism has whites in every area of power who are truly able to make a change.Chicago can we make a change it starts today...Justin

It seems that a white person can't have an honest conversation with blacks without the conversation degenerating into:

(a) "You can't know how I feel because you haven't lived it"

(b) That's just how we do things in our neighborhood.

(c)The trump card..."See! I KNEW you had some racist in you!"

(d) "You just want to bring the neighborhood up to make money and push us out"

Over the last 5 years I've had numerous conversations with people in my old neighborhood, some with the homeless, some with the gangbangers, and many with what would appear to be normal middle-class blacks...I've even copied you on some of my letters to the Alderman and Police.

And in each sum total of the actions taken or not taken the end result was always the same...Blacks put up with stuff the Whites won't put up with, and when I tried to get it dealt with at any level, including discourse with the middle-class blacks, I ended up being accused of being some level of racist.

Meanwhile, at the corner of Division & Milwaukee, the drug dealing & fights for control of the drug corner, homeless congregating, panhandling and petty crimes, the gang members hanging out,loud car stereos and cars double-parked blocking Milwaukee Ave while people make their drug or prostitution deals goes on.

And it seems a lot of the newer activity stems from new arrivals at the CHA building at the 1100 block of Milwaukee who have been relocated from the torn down high-rises like Cabrini-Green.

But just try to have that conversation...never happen.

So after 5 years I moved 2 months ago (to a neighborhood that does not post for rent signs, most rentals are done through someone you know...very old-school) and frankly after everything I went through I probably would be happy to go the rest of my life without living next to a black person.

Which is a real shame because for 5 years I really tried to communicate and live in a diverse area.

In Chicago, I'm not even going to bother anymore.

Wallace Kennedy asked for a "solution."

Here is a rather simplistic solution; it begins with "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You" or more simply, stop stereotyping and accept/judge an individual based on their actions.

Too often we ALL (Black/White/et. Al.) have "come to the plate" with preconceived ideas about a person from another culture/race. Most of these preconceptions are based on misinformation or one or two bad experiences.

But it's always easier to assume something negative. That's why (some) Blacks have problems in restaurants with wait staff and cab drivers, just to name a few instances.

Hi Mary,
I read your column on a regular basis and I've always enjoyed your topics. I am a black woman that grew up in Chicago but I moved to Los Angeles about six years ago. One of the reasons I moved was because Chicago is so segregated and when people of color venture outside of their neighborhood they are often looked at or treated as though they don't belong.

I think white people can't empathize (not sympathize) with us. If they experienced the subtle forms of racism that most of us face everyday, they would be very vocal about race.

Oprah did a great show years ago, I believe it was called the blue-eyed test. She separated her audience by putting all of the blue-eyed people on one side of the room and the brown-eyed people on the other. Unbeknownst to the audience she asked her staff to intentionally treat the brown-eyed people better. A few of the blue-eyed people walked off the show and the ones that stayed were very angry and complained about being disrespected and mistreated. The brown-eyed people did not complain and carried on as though nothing was wrong. Very similar to everyday life for some people.

dont talk about it be about it.see u talk too mutch.stop selling foodstamps for cash so u can smoke crack(white people make u smoke crack too ha?)get jobs,dont stand on the corner,dont have 10 kids by the time u 20(more food stamps that i pay for out of my check)iam white but my wife is black and we have a child together.i live in the austin area and i see what goes on.its not us vs them.but blacks need to stop watching videos and go to WORK on their community.and black mothers please watch your doughters because they will be momas by the age of 12.my mother raised 3 kids with no stamps and section 8 so please stop.white people stoped hanging blacks a long time ago.blacks r killing their own seeds for generations because its cool to watch bet "hustle"and have 5 baby momas.u just got checked!holla

I think White people do not talk about race because they don't see it as an issue. As a Naval officer, I (and this probably goes Blacks in other professions) have always felt I had to do extra just to get the same recognition as my White counterparts. When I have discussed this with my White friends, some of them could not understand becasue they do not come from the same background or feel the same pressures. The only time I heard Whites complain about race was when I was stationed in Guam. A co-worker mentioned being pulled over for a DWW (Driving While White). He was not part of the majority population and experienced some of the issues that Blacks deal with all the time. Before living in Guam, white people were never treated like "second class" citizens and some came to have a better understanding about we have always went through. We were then able to have a healthy dialouge about race related issues.

My opinion will be based strictly on my personal experiences as opposed to generalizations (though some comments may appear as such). To that qualifier let me say that I am a bi-racial individual who has always had the fortune of being exposed to conversations of race relations in an open manner and on a regular basis. Why don’t white people speak about race? My mother is white and she despises categorization. She doesn’t speak in terms of race because she speaks in terms of equality. She could care less if you were black, white or purple but she does care if you’ve been afforded the opportunity to become successful and prominent or if you’ve been cast aside as a leper. For her to hold a conversation about racial disparity there would have to be more meat to the issue than race alone. She fights for the underdog but will not provide the shield for or carry the blame of those who won’t take the initiative to have a goal and reach for it.

Before we can ask why don’t white people want to talk about race we need to ask ourselves why WE (not all but you know what I mean) in the Black community make race such a huge issue “at home? and can’t even get along with ourselves. We hate each other for the variations in the shades of our complexions and for the things we’ve acquired. Our current youth aspirations are to own fancy cars with 22? Dubs. We want a pocket full of money and thrive on the sense of power we feel when we are able to have our presence intimidate others. What kind of aspirations are these? Why is the white person to blame for this? They did not tell us to hang out on corners instead of getting an education. They did not tell us to whore around instead of teaching our children to read and write. Maybe our teachers are not the “best? but where they lack, the parents can step in. While every home may not have a computer those brick-n-mortar buildings called libraries still exist (use them). Where do we put our priorities? The have-nots blame oppression and lack of opportunity by the white man while the haves attribute it to the opportunities afforded them. I’ve been both a have and a have-not but at no point was it explained away by race.

Additionally, I work in a privately held, white owned company that has predominantly white (nepotistic) employees. I am accepted in front of them and behind their backs. Open conversation about race is not only prevalent but encouraged (by all) as a means of educating each other to the biases and ignorance we all had/have. It has not only allowed us to open our respective minds but has taught us how to deduce information from situations instead of using the easy crutch of racial excuses. As an example, where some of them (those who had little exposure to black other than media portrayals) once thought most blacks were only useful as sports stars or work horses (hard labor) and not very smart, they’ve learned that I (and many others) represent a different shade of the totality of my people. I revered in showing them that I am highly intelligent, articulate and able to land multi-million dollar deals without their “faces? in the room to help me. They also learned that one of the gravest mistakes they could have made would have been to keep their minds shut to the understanding and acceptance of an example of the quality that Black America has to offer.

After reading the responses to this topic, I have come to the conclusion that this is an important subject that needs to be researched by all. The responses only proved that many of us Americans (black and white) seems to have a misunderstanding when it comes to race relations. Talking about a race issue does not and should not be a reason to be labled a racist, but it should be a channel for communicating differences and assisting in finding a solution for those differences. I'm sure this blog was not created so that people of any race, could get on and air their frustrations, but one that we could have open, honest, peaceful discussions on why such lack of communications between the races still exist in the first place. Yes, some whites donot discuss race, and the reasons are varied yet, I feel that this forum is not going to find solutions and yet, it does seem to open up more thought on the subject. A lot of responses bear a negative tone and some are racist within themselves, but I'm sure we are all getting a learning experience. thank you!
George Jarrett

First off to the white people who have the nerve of nerve to complain they don't get to say 'what they want' and there is 'reverse discrimination' I say well boo-hoo do you want a hug or pillow or your own telethon?!! Please share your sob stories because lord KNOWS I would have NO idea about being discriminated against if it didn't come form 'your' perspective!! What a complete and utter CROCK and as for not having a 'voice' who in the HELL are you kidding?!! The media is 90 PERCENT white male and some of the most biased,racist,hateful,arrogant,selctive snots in the country. Maybe white people don't 'talk' about race is because god FORBID an opinion not your own actually come into the conversation after all it's very easy to win an argument if you are the ONLY one in it. And get real the only reason some of you hypocrite phonies don't own slaves is because you CAN'T it's illegal but you sure as hell don't mind keeping the mentality going. And why don't you tell Yusef Hawkins,Latasha Harlins,Chrisse Iverson,Amadou Diallo,Abner Louima,James Byrd,Robert Russ,the little 5 year-old in handcuffs,the 9 year-old in handcuffs,the accuser in the Duke case,Lenard Clark,my aunt and uncle, and countless other black people that the behavior and racsit attitudes of slavery times 'have nothing to do with them'. I frankly don't WANT to hear the white take on racism just from the commenters hear and noone is calling you a 'racist' but you do have a major league chip on your shoulders. And talk about NOT taking 'responsibility' that's like a 70 year-old woman calling a 30 year-old woman an 'old maid' you people wrote the BOOK on no responsibility like for example when a white female kills her kids she has 'post partum depression' spare me I'm no expert on the legal system but I'm pretty sure if I killed MY kids I would be sitting in a jail cell.And I understand post partum is a real issue but it should NOT be the middle class,middle-aged,white female,suburban soccer mom's 'get out of jail free card'. Or the angry white male[sic]who gets pissed because he was fired or whatever reason and walks into a restaraunt or Mcdonald's or place of business and sprays the palce with bullets or shoots everyone in the skull with an A-K 47. That lowlife is just'crazy' or that poor guy was 'okay' before he supposedly 'snapped' I don't remember anyone calling Colin Ferguson crazy or D.C. sniper John Muhammed in fact a lot hypocrites said to throw them UNDER the jail and most of it was the supposedly 'liberal' media which gives pretty much ONLY white males a voice. And don't get me started on the white people who commit crimes like murder and say the good old standby 'a black man did it' ala Charles Staurt and Susan Smith because they know someone especially the media will believe them. But it's all someone else right if we play the race card then you all play the 'crazy' card now who's pointing fingers and doesn't want responsibility you all have been ducking 'responsibility' since day one so find out what the hell that word means BEFORE you preach to others which you ARE very good at but take the preaching yourself. Payback sure sucks don't it especially to be people who will never take it but always dish it out.

I'm 53 and a male white. I openly discuss race with my family and children. I have a wondeful future son -in-law who happens to be black, not a black man who happens to be a future son-in-law.

I feel I have done the right "thing" with my children but I do have to wonder a lot.

Slavery was wrong no doubt about it. Slavery has left scarrs on all sides, black/white. The scarrs are deep and I cannot begin to imagine how that felt.

BUT some day we are going to have to take the journey towards healing between the races. It CANNOT begin as it is now with so much anger.

Anger is understandable. But anger in any form makes everyone uneasy. Anger makes everyone take a step back. I know most white people will not admit it, and neither will blacks, but we get defensive.

Talk to me about healing not about what a slave owner did, I can't fix that. Talk to me about help needed for parenting skills, or tutoring our children and you have me 300%.

The wounds are open and bleeding. I THINK I speak for the MAJORITY of white silent people who say I'll help heal the wounds but please don't yell a history lesson at me. I'm only capable of helping the sides move forward.

I find this all so, so sad. It just makes me so sad to read the nasty things we are all writing about each other. The stereotypes of the African-Americans by whites are just as bad as the stereotypes of the whites by the African-Americans.

Whites don't talk about race because if a white person acknowledges that differences in race exist, they are a racist. If they do anything or say anything ever that touches on race at all, they are a racist. What good does this do? What good does this knee-jerk reaction to anything a white person says or does do to further the bringing together of this country? This is so sad. So many of the responses here make it clear that many African-Americans believe that all white people are racist against them. Don't we all see how completely ridiculous that is? Look around! We are working together and living together and striving together in so many ways! Are there racists? Yes, of course. Are there non-racist whites? Yes, of course. Are there racist African-Americans? Yes, of course. When you lump everyone together and assume that people are thinking a certain way, you are making living together on this planet so much harder.

Let me tell you what most whites think about the African-American community. I am not talking about "I hate black people, they are inferior" whites. They are out there, but most of the white community doesn't pay attention to that nonsense anymore, at least in the North. I don't know any white people who think African-Americans are actually physically, mentally or in any other way inherently inferior to any other race. What many of the white community thinks about much of the African-American community is really more of a statement about people who live in a cycle of poverty rather than a statement about people of a certain race. Many people in the white community believe that there are generations of people who live in housing, who don't finish school, who have too many children and don't take care of them, who do and sell drugs and who rely too heavily on the rest of the people in the country to support them. Does it matter if the people in this circle of poverty are black or white? I think for most whites who think this way that isn't really the issue, although certainly there are some. It's just the idea of any group of people leeching off of the rest of us without ever seemingly trying to change their own lot in life. So is this vision the truth? I don't know. Surely there are many people out there of every color who take advantage of the government, live off of programs intended to offer short-term assistance and on and on. Whether it is the truth or not isn't the issue here. The issue is that is what many white people think and that is what African-Americans have to fight. How do you fight this? I guess the burden of fighting a stereotype is usually on the shoulders of those who are being stereotyped -- to show that the stereotype isn't true, or to get rid of the behavior that is causing the stereotype.

But none of this really matters. Let's say that many of the posters are right: whites are controlling, racist, they never give African-Americans a break, they have to stop behaving like they own the world, and so on and so forth. As a young person trying to build a career in this country I do know this: people who are in power don't just give up that power becuase someone tells them they should. White people are not going to stop their behaviors. They are not going to change. They are not going to turn around and say you run the company, you shop in these stores, whatever it is some of the posters here want. It is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. So what is the choice then? You must make it happen yourself. Whether whites are to blame or not, the African-American community is going to have to fix this one itself. There are people of all races who really believe we are all equal and want to participate. If you feel you can let them in, do it. It will strengthen your mission. Find your strength in your strong points: your churches, the hearts of your community, your mothers, your fathers, your schools, yourselves. MAKE IT HAPPEN. And don't hate others, or assume they hate you, because their skin is a different color than yours. Isn't that what this is all about?

I grew up in Chicago, and whatever differences existed and continues to exist from the black perspective was something I refuse to take blame or responsibility for. From the viewpoint of a caucasian person of middle class, I speak for myself, not anyone else. I can echo the old arguement that none of my ancestors owned slaves, and as I'm sure you've heard in one place or another, the Irish were actually treated worse than slaves. I never suffered so those are just cliches and platitudes to me. What I can identify with is the sameness of opportunity in the work world, actually, government intrusion into the work work with regard to social programs, affirmative action promotions, race weighted examinations and the whole "Alan Bakke" reverse discrimination thing.

I sometimes think that what really gets lost in discussions of race is the idea that the average person, white, black, red, green or whatever, doesn't wish harm or casualty on any person. I believe in my heart that we all want the same things. A roof over our heads, food on our table and a safe haven for our children to come and go. To me, its asinine to think that I have dictated any type of social policy which is designed or intended to hold anyone back from reaching their goals. But in the same instance, that element of fairness is where my ideas and others may diverge. My hope, my ambition and efforts to better the lives of my family have been so-so. I sit on a pile of bills that have to be paid every month, the cost of getting to work day in and day out is getting out of hand, tuition bills have me thinking my kids will never get out of school. From time to time it has me wondering how long I will have to work, or if I will ever be able to retire. At 55, I find myself looking for ways to stay healthy because I don't know if my family will be able to survive financially if something happens to me. Maybe thats just mid life crisis that everyone goes through, but Mary, its something that worries me. Selfishly I will admitI don't seem to have the time to worry about my neighbor as much as I should. But I'd like to be on record as saying that this country should not have to worry about their seniors starving, or having to make decisions in their later years as to which they should buy, their prescriptions or cat food. Its shameful, that big businesss and CEO's of corporations only think in terms of quarterly profits to the shareholders. Its doubly shameful that people devote their lives to working for a company only to get kicked in the ass and thrown out the door with a measly severence package and then have to figure out where to go from there. These are the things that I find myself thinking about. I'm sure there's a common thread there for all of us.

I wish everyone to have a comfortable sense of their self and a permanent identity with which they can live.

But the demands we should be making most of should be the ones we make of ourselves. Thanks for listnening.

As a black man growing up in Chicago, knowing the cards are stacked against me, knowing I have to outperform others just to get noticed, knowing that I can get arrested by the police because I look like the rapist or murdered they are looking for, knowing that when I walk into Marshall Fields they ask me to check my bag only, I still go about my day. Why? Because thinking about all of that would make me sick. But here are some true stories and maybe some feedback and real honest opinions would help. I worked for this large bank where there were tons of consultants on a project. When it was over there were people positioning for permanent jobs in the bank. One of the jobs was project manager where you needed experience, years of it, a college degree and knowledge of the industry. Guess who got the job? The VP's admin assistant who could not turn the computer on if I placed the power cords next to the surge protector. Fast foward a year later, another spot opened up, this time he hired his nephew. Both times he passed over qualified people, many of whom were black because in the IT industry, most of your consultants in this field are black. We had to settle for a lower role, less pay and be glad we had a perm job. I spoke up and could not even get that job. But I felt better because to me, that was unfair.

Why do white people never talk about race?

Why do black people ALWAYS talk about race?

Frankly white people don't talk about race because blacks talk the subject to death. I mean, Mary, do you not talk about race every day? I, like the white people I know, don't have it out for anybody because they're black. I'll respect you if you work hard and obey the law. And to all the black people that say I don't know what it feels like because I'm not black, why do you know anything about how I feel or the way I think, you're not white. So maybe you should listen like you expect us to and then we'll both understand each other rather than you telling me how it is all the time.

None of you our African Americans, I'm not European American or Italian Americanor German American, we're all Americans, period.

I'm Puerto Rican and we talk about racism all the time. It hasn't gone away.

Why whites don't talk about racism? I prefer to hear it coming from them. Anything less would be my assumption and much of it has already been written.

As a solution,
1) perhaps the blog. should include the effects of slavery, colonialization, etc. over generations. 2) Perhaps data that compares color to opportunities over centuries.
3) Perhaps data to illustrate peoples emotions when being around people of color or white.

I guess I'm speaking about comparatative analysis on all related subjects.

4) Perhaps data that compares immigrant worker opportunities past and present to all races/ethnic groups, etc. which may lead to an understanding about reparations (how it plays-out, if any, with immigrants that didn’t live here decades ago....
4) Perhaps your blog can be helpful in explaining race and ethnic histories, so that maybe we can begin to better understand each other. I believe we still don't know each others histories and that can continue to divide us. I've done a lot of research on ethnicity and race, but I still need to learn more.

I could continue, but I’ll stop for others to comment.

Who says white people don't talk about race? I disagree with the basic premise of your blog. The problem is that there is no dialogue as Lonnie stated above. Noone can dialogue if they are being chastised and accused of racism constantly. African-Americans need to quit blaming all the shortcomimgs in OUR communities on racism. An astronomical unwed birth rate, a separate culture within a culture that tolerates immorality and abuse of government subsidies, and the rapidly disappearing Black family unit are more responsible for the problems of modern day African-Americans than racism is. All the things that I mentioned above are rampant in white and Hispanic communities, also. Our society is slowly breaking down and all we hear is "more for me". I am a Christain and see God as my father in heaven. If a black man or woman feels the same way, then they are my brother or sister. That is the way God meant it to be. If folks want to solve problems, first they have to quit piling up one recrimination after another on one another. Education, morality, hard work, and faith are the keys to success in our country. No racist, be they black, white, or brown, can prevent someone from achieving that has those qualities of character.

MLTA: maybe YOU are afraid, sorry, guilty, and fearful of deserved contempt. Maybe YOU have done something terrible, or maybe (probably) you are just a hand-wringing lib and feel the need to be contrite, but YOU don't speak for me or any other white people I know. I'm none of the above. Not one single day of my life have I gotten up, looked in the mirror and said, "how can I F*** a black person today". Man, I have all I can do just to get through MY day.

Hey folks, you think things are contentious between the races now. Wait until this reparations nonsense heats up if Conyers ever gets HR40 through. Even the socialist libs will have their shorts knotted if a part of their paycheck goes directly to a liquor store to the other part of town. It's laughable if it wasn't so sick. What the hell have welfare, affirmative action, and all the other entitlements been? Never in the history of world have so many given so much to so few in order to right past wrongs. Never. Race relations will never improve and it's really not worth worrying about. Funny thing is, while black s and whites argue, Hispanics and Arabs have the become the new darlings of the can-do-no-wrong PC, liberal media crowd.

I am a young white male that grew up in the South Suburbs and am now living on the North Side. I don't talk about race ever because I don't have many non-white friends. My interaction with African-American or Latino people is usually in stores, at work, or on the streets - none of which are ideal situations to discuss race relations. I don't belong to a Church because the Roman Catholic Church that I was raised in appears to be corrupt beyond repair. I am also greatly turned off by the rise in fundamentalist Christianity, which is harsh, judgemental and angry - all contrary to Christ's teachings of love and forgiveness.


I would guess that most white people don't want to discuss race because we sense the great resentment and anger of minorities, particularly African-Americans, against white people. Whites think that we are not responsible for racism directly. A white person says to himself, "I am not racist against African-Americans. Why are they so angry? Why are their communities in such chaos?" What most white people fail to see is that being white offers great advantages, such as a greater likelihood of having an intact family and a good education.

But even white families are having difficulty these days. The family is no longer understood as the basic organizing unit of society, for better or for worse. A lot of people claim that this is liberating, but then why are so many people unhappy? Why so much loneliness?

One thing that would greatly improve race relations is to GET RID OF THE DEATH PENALTY. This would send the message that the criminal justice system is not out to kill young black men, that vengeance is not an appropriate response to crime. Another improvement would be to END PROPERTY TAX FUNDING OF EDUCATION, which results in white areas having better schools and more opportunities. A third improvement would be to PROVIDE NATIONAL HEALTH CARE, which would greatly improve the lives of minorities by eliminating anxiety over medical bills.

White people do not discuss issues of race because to some,it's a thing of the past or they don't want to step on any toes. It's a shame we cannot have a truly open discussion concerning race.As a young latino male who has spent a portion of my life living in a predominantly white neighborhood, I discovered that there is a large percentage of whites who can't grasp the issue of inequality in this country.However,I also don't thinks it's fair to pinpoint all the shortcomings of minorities squarely on race.My parents came to this country with the clothes on their back and a dream.Anything is possible in this country,now more than ever we should take advantages that those before us did not have and bridge the gap.

I am a 40 yr old male American of mexican descent. I do not expect anyone else to ask about or care what it was like for me growing up and living in this city as a Latino. Why should anyone else care? They worry about thier own difficulties in life. We all share common concerns like education, finances and family. They have their worries and I have mine. If your black, white, blue or purple, you cannot blame your lot in life on someone else. My family was raised to believe that we are personally responsible for our behavior and future. I achieved my goals by working hard and never asking anyone for anything. White people could never say this because they would be labeled racist but people of color create alot of thier own problems. For instance, it is now common and acceptable to use the terms "Babydaddy or Babymama", absentee Fathers, parents defending criminal behavior, high drop out rates, gang violence. Did the white man create these problems? No. Why would he care to have a conversation about problems he did not create only to be blamed for them. We do not need to place blame but we do need to take personal responsibility and solve our own problems.

Well, well, well an issue that will never be put to rest... the race issue. No, White people will never know nor understand the plight of Black people (I'm sorry let me be politically correct and use our latest title "African Americans") because I don't understand it. I don't understand why I happened to being born of a different ethnicity and was automatically stigmatized. I don't understand why as a young child barely old enough to understand my alphabets but old enough to realized that I was being set aside and treated differently because my skin color was different. I don't understand why my ancestors were treated like animals and packed onto ships like sardines in a can, chained to one another like savages, fed bowls of garbage once a day, those that didn't survive were thrown over the ship like dead fish. No I don't understand, can you explain? I don't understand why once they landed in "America" they were enslaved, beaten, raped, degraded, sold and if they were lucky enough they were finally put out of their miseries and were killed. I don't understand why when they were finally told they were free they were in a worse off situation than before. They were still told that they weren't human, they had absolutely no rights, they were turned a loose in a society that still had them on a leash. A society that said you're free but you're nothing so you still have to work for the "Masters" except you don't have to call me "Master" anymore, you can just call me Mr. or Mrs. and address our children, the children that you watched grow up as a matter of fact the children that you practically raised, Ms Ann or Mr. Tommy. Make it clear to me now, why were the Jim Crow laws were put into place? I want to make sure I understand the complete rationale behind separation and segregation? It was because White people were superior right? Because only here does the equation "white" equal "right" exist? Now I want to make sure I'm getting it right... on the backs of my ancestors this country was built, the tons of blood and tears shed by my ancestors made it possible for your ancestors to thrive and survive. The hundreds and thousands of lives lost made it possible for you to benefit from the inheritances your ancestors left. I still don't get how my ancestors were put out in the fields like work horses for the majority of the day while Master stood by with his whip giving orders; how the women were made to watch the little brats in the house while the wives sat on their flat behinds or crept around but yet we’re still labeled as being lazy. I hope that by this time you've gotten my point and see why I can't blame our white counter parts for not understanding when it is quite clear that I don't understand either.
I do also very much agree that it is far time for us to stop looking for someone to blame because we don't have to point the finger very far but it is time for us to stand up and take responsibility for our part in the breakdown. While I could have gone on and on about all the terrible things my ancestors endured I can also point out that they did make it through. While it was a time that many of them thought they would never come through; and to be honest a lot of them didn't, but those that did, made it because they didn't give up. They fought not because they thought they would make it through but because they knew that for the children that were being born and those that they were raising, it had to be a better way and they were going to do everything and anything in their power to make sure of that. I do feel that a lot of my people make a lot of excuses today not to say that their reasoning isn't valid but we can't allow those reasons to keep us in the shackles our ancestors fought to break loose from. It is now our responsibility and obligation to those who have died for us to keep moving forward not to revert back to life as they once knew it. It is not our responsibility to make sure the others pay for what their ancestors have done to our ancestors and how they have perpetuated that mind set and the tradition that was established by ignorance. That should be left to a higher power. When I drive through our neighborhoods I am so frustrated by what I see. I get so upset because I can't understand why we aren't able to see how slavery from before has now evolved into slavery of a different kind. Instead of us being enslaved physically now we are enslaved mentally. Sometimes the mental destruction you experience can be much worse than the physical destruction. Racism is still so alive and well and for anyone who says that it isn't they must be white but nevertheless that should just be viewed as another hurdle to jump over not one that holds us back. Yes our neighborhoods are poverty stricken and crime is running rampant but there are so many positive things that we have achieved and are achieving only a daily basis. The media chooses to broadcast the negativity because that is what is so much more expected from us. There is a reason as to why whenever there has been a crime committed by someone white that it doesn’t get as much air play or there’s some sort of off justification and when a crime is committed by a black it is on for a week and its just because they are black. There’s a reason why punishment for a white criminal is like a child getting a spanking and for a black criminal is like an animal being put away for life. It is not designed for us to see anything good or positive coming from our communities. It is not designed for black people to demand to be treated equally in this society and actually have it to happen. As long as White American continues to down play the extent of the damage that was really caused by slavery, segregation, discrimination, etc. then racism will continue to be an issue and African American will continue to hold on to the residual effects that all of that has caused. Also, as long as African Americans continue to hang on to what our ancestors have come through and keep making that an excuse as to why we are owed something then White America will continue to have that mental hold on us that keeps us on the low end of the totem with our hands out waiting for the next give away. Oh my goodness I can go on and on with this piece but would it really matter, will it really make a difference? I mean it hasn’t made a difference in the 30 something years that I’ve walked this earth so I think its more of a cleansing therapy for people more than anything because at the end of the day people have a certain mind set and that rarely changes for them unless something happens in their lives to bring about that change. By the way racism goes beyond just whites and blacks, look around the room and tell me honestly if the only to nationalities you interact with are white or black.

Thank you

I figured that the racists would be exposed checkout some comments:(baby mama?holla?)alot of the outright stupid comments posted just shows why people(white especially) dont have a clue,They seem not to realize alot of the racially charged environment that they help create by perpetuating racism and such affects their own children and grandchildren also.Running to the suburbs to "avoid"blacks? last time I looked most mass murderers and child molesters were non-black.Even some of the black citizens have fell for the self hatred mode white racists would like you to be in .Smelly black people?I worked in the medical field lived all over chicago and the worst smells I ever encountered came from white people.Some homeless people smell, so what ,some people with homes stink(black and white)The pure hatred spewed should show everyone why we had slavery, when these days you would think people would have advanced past these slavery days mentalities(white people didnt own slaves?yeah blacks put their own self in slavery I geuss)some people use forums such as this unfortunately to tell lies, the lies are similar to what was told to the american indian.(that is why they said they spoke with forked tongue)for every white person who want peace and harmony there is a hundred who are happy with the way things are.If you're black and even retarded you commit a crime you get the death penalty, if you're white and kill all your kids you get off on a insanity or post partum depression plea.Only a fool would not see the inequities and be outraged ,but you wont (like previous posters noted) if you are the beneficiary of those injustices.(Jon burge torturing innocent minority citizens)A person would also be foolish to think you can "change"these hardcore racists (not gonna happen)they have to want to change themselves .No matter how many kumbayas you sing they need serious psychological help.Alot of posters (I have seen and heard them all)are legitimately wanting to change things (black and white)and I applaud them for their efforts but dont let the racists get to your head, that is their secret weapon(to annoy good people) sometimes even I have to remind myself they are just ignorant unhappy people with probably a dog as there best friend(even the dog wants out of that one)The anger blacks feel is understandable though and I guess whites "wouldnt" be mad if you enslaved,raped murdered ,lynched made their relatives work for free and then on top of it all (flash to modern times)now want to give you advice on whats "wrong" with black people.To tell the truth thats actually why alot of blacks have attitudes ,we have heard it "all" before from whites."My people did'nt have slaves" ,jesse Jackson is the problem,"hip hop is the problem" etc .instead of looking in the mirror and realizing they were the problem alot of times..How can they acknowledge that in a abusive relationship that the abused person will be affected but at the same time after blacks have been in abused for 400 years by the "powers that be" we(and our children) shouldnt be affected in negative sense.We are a strong people to have gone through slavery and still contributed to Americas'greatness ,fought gallantly in every major war (with our military service not acknowledged by whites when we got back stateside)and contributed thousands of inventions.(check the black inventors site on the internet.)So now we should stand still and continue to let whites and yes Uncle toms(they exist trust me)still perpetuate the same lies and mind games,I DONT THINK SO!Education is the key they cant take that away.Blacks just like whites can be their own worst enemy ,no matter what color you are, you have to come from your heart and it will never fail you.So to those who may think we are animals,1/8 of a man and any self hating people out there who feel as if your people embarass you because of social ills that might not actually be their fault,�just remember,All races have good and bad in them, and as always like my father always told me "dont believe the hype"!

In response to Eula Alexander, I had to place my purse in my briefcase to make the 2 bag limit recently, leaving STL, but not leaving DC. Waddya know, I'm white. It's not always about race.

Lots of interesting comments. We just moved from DC to STL, MO, and I could not believe the local talk shows were talking about some petty black race matters. We have lots of Latinos, Asians and non-Christians (ie, Muslims) entering our society and not assimilating. That's causing major social disharmony. By the way, they are making it financially and moving up the socio-economic ladder. --buying homes and all. Some of these folks have brown skin, too.

It seems that blacks do not understand that not all white people are wealthy. There are plenty of uneducated poor families that are white, too. Not all whites make it to college. Even if they wanted to, the racial gerrymandering prevents some from attending a university at all. I am very worried about cards being stacked against our sons. In order to "right wrongs" of prior generations, my boys will get screwed.

I have no doubt that blacks experience some racism in society. But whites are acting cautious and on egg shells so as not to cause offense, but they end up doing so anyway.

Not everything is about race. Sigh. Please let's move on and unite under national security or federal budget concerns, or concern for family stability or unborn babies, for goodness sake.

I'm going to make this short and sweet.

White people know that any self-conscious "discussion about race" will be 1-1.5 hours of "Blame Whitey."

If a white person complains in some way about Black people, he will immediately be called a racist.

So a white person at one of these discussions is nothing more than a Pinata.

Who wants to be a pinata?

Some people like to spend an hour as a pin cushion, doormat, or pinata.

Most white people, who do whatever they can to NOT be racist don't like to spend an hour being told what an awful person they are.

Blacks, by contrast, can't even take mild criticism. They're very good at self-criticism. But the second a white person brings it up, there's yelling and screaming.

What's the point of this kind of "dialogue?"

I think that white people who don't say things for fear of being labled racist are having some self-doubt or guilt over their own opinions.

How about you say what you're going to say and if I call you a racist, you be confident enough in yourself to know you're not.

I'm tired of people prefacing statements with, "I'm not racist but..." or "I know this will sound un-PC but..." Just say your piece without the preface and the listener will decide whether it's racist or un-PC.

Sometimes it's good to be called on racism - when you have to wonder whether you are or aren't, most often there's a bit of it hiding somewhere in there.

Race relations in Chicago?

Let me say that I just returned from Chicago yesterday (July 26th). It was my first time In Chicago and I hope to never return. I'm a 47yr old African American woman, and I was a victim of racism from one of Chicago's finest (yeah right). I was with 3 of my friends all of whom are white. We were out in the Halsted area, going to the clubs. We walked outside the club to get some air, we walked around the corner and stopped on what we thought was a side street, but that side street turns out to be the entrance to an alley. As we stood at the mouth of the alley (just talking) I was in the process of handing my friend a lighter when a police car pulled up, two officers got out of the car and started yelling at us "what are you doing, get over here" then they asked my friend "what did she hand you" (meaning what did I had her.) My friend was as shocked as I was and said, "nothing". The police said, "put your hands on the car". Here we were 4 girls on vacation just hanging out and had done nothing. Then they searched my friend and searched me.The police hand cuffed me and made me lie on the hood of the car. All the time my three other white friends just had their hands on the hood of the car not cuffed. I ask, why was I hand cuffed and they were not? None of us have ever been arrested, and all of us cooperated with whatever they said. I have never been treated that way ever before. I'm a professional black woman and there was absolutely no reason for the police to treat me that way. I am currently in the process of making the events of that night public. Police like that should not get away with treating people that way.

As I get ready for work I am reading the same tired comments. Affirmative action? Where is it? White women benefit most from that. Look at the scandals in Chicago, most of the Hired Truck companies were run by white women whose husband's did the paperwork for them. Programs work if properly administered. Welfare? I have never known of any individual who wanted to sit home waiting on a check. Most people prefer to work but guess what, if you apply for a job in Chicago and your name is not Brad or Becky or Heather, you will not get past the front door. Guaranteed. I would like to debate these topics but if you cannot get people to really understand, problems will continue.

As an American Indian person living in a state whose flagship university uses Indian imagery for its sports mascot, I see misrepresentation of race all the time. It happens a great deal. Society teaches Americans to view American Indians in a very narrow way. To understand how this works in children's books, visit my webpage, read articles, follow links, and think hard about what it means to play Indian. http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com

How do YOU know what white people, Latinos, or Asians talk about?

You could also ask: Why do women always talk about women's issues? We never hear men talking about women's issues. Would you then say "Because it's a woman's thing and men wouldn't understand"?

All I know is I think of myself as a PERSON--my sex and the color of my skin do not define me.

It's a big world out there, with over 6 billion people in it--and I am only one of them. I can only hope to do my best to get along with my fellow man and woman and do my part to help make this world a better place for us all to live in.

Let me address the post from CCC.

The point of this 'dialogue' is to gain an understanding of the differences between the two races, in hopes to somehow come to a medium of sorts. The only way to do this is to communicate, which I know WE do extensively.

Why do I put "WE" in capital letters? So that all who read this particular post will know that I am a BLACK WOMAN beyond a shadow of a doubt.

WE can take CONSTRUCTIVE criticism quite well. What we can't take, and refuse to tolerate, is insults.

Allow me to suggst that you keep this in mind before responding to another post on race relations in America.

I've had disussions with Black men over drinks in public houses in the past. Inevetably the subject of race comes up and all whites are racist. I politely listen to their diatribe. when I get a chance to make a point I've said, I have my own problems to worry about to be concerned about being a racist. I usually get a baffled look for a moment and then recognition of my point. It then seems we can get down to having some very good conversations as I know very few black people. I can get an insight to the black world of which I know very little.

I listen to Stan & Terry daily because I find their radio show interesting and entertaining. Their tact on race is we are all people.

I read your column often. I found it very interesting when you remarked in a colomn about blacks talking like they do at home when whites aren't around. I had no clue. The examples I've used illustrate what I beleive to be a constructive discourse into the black world. People talking to people as it should be.

Whites don't talk about race because they are immediately labeled as racists if they say something black people don't like. It's really that simple.
If the various races want to engage in dialogue they have to be ready to hear truths that might hurt. I don't believe the majority of black people are ready for that. There is a "woe is me" victim mentality that has to be wiped out before real dialogue can commence.
Mary, I've seen you on televison a number of times (not always discussing racial issues). Each time you have struck me as angry and confrontational. Why would anyone want to have a discussion with a person like that?

I'll tell you why most white people don't talk about race relations: most 'white people' I know recognize that as a successful country that embraces democracy, capitalism and progress, we're not bogged down by history, crying over long-past injustices. Slavery? Done away with in 1863. Jim Crow laws? Repealed. Equal Rights Amendment. Passed over 40 years ago. Time to move ahead, people, EVERYONE: Black, White, Latino, Asian, etc. Don't like your job? Quite and work somewhere else. Don't like your house or neighborhood? Move. Unhappy with your state of affairs? CHANGE YOUR SITUATION. Can't be done you say? Too hard to get past your mental baggage? No facility in America for such action? Then move to Rwanda, Venezueala, North Korea or Iran. Better luck there, folks.

Ours is the best country for personal advancement - and that's where it all starts, people.

We have the capacity to be who we can and want to in this society. Don't play the race card anymore, people. It's a tired, sad crutch.

This simple fact is those who are smart know it will accomplish nothing. An underlying contempt for a people that are not your own always will exist. Those who say or think differently are not being honest with themselves. Yes, like most, I want to live in peace, but realize that simply will never happen. Race and religion are dividers that humans will never overcome. The "melting pot" is a great concept that human race isn't capable of carrying out........

Time to school another ignorant white person. SHECKY FULLER. What idiot told you (and you believed him or her) that WELFARE was an "entitlement" created for the black person? Don't you know that your government, the US gov't wouldn't care if a black baby DIED, let alone was hungry or without healthcare. LOL. Welfare is for Y'all (YES WHITE PEOPLE) and in fact, statistics show that more whites APPLY FOR AND RECEIVE PUBLIC ASSISTANCE than non-whites. We just got hip to the game and realized we could benefit too. And to the ANONYMOUS Bi-Racial reader? SMH. MAN, do we have a long way to go. I would take some time and school you about some of your IGNORANT comments, but on the real my fingers are tired. Read my earlier post. I see why you signed anonymous. You are (and should be) ashamed of your comments. If you REALLY think you are accepted by Whitey in Corporate America, THAT is laughable. I don't know your age, but I would guess by your views of American society that you are under 30. Keep on living BROTHER, and I use that term LOOSELY. You'll see what whitey really thinks of you. Behind your back they call you worse than they call "us" because you actually think you are accepted. Let a race war break out tomorrow and I BET your co-workers with whom you feel so EQUIVALENT to will throw your hind parts right over here with the rest of us. Shame on you for your train of thought. You think black women whore instead of teaching their children to read? Head out to Nevada where prostitution is LEGAL and I bet you'll see more white/latino hoes trolling for tricks than you will sisters. Better yet, check out the local strolls on Madison or west 63rd street. And yes, the brick and mortar buildings called libraries do exist. And yes, unbeknownst to your Uncle Tom, no stepinfetchit self, we do use them. City of Chicago libraries should all receive the same funding, right? So please do a survey. Check out the library on 63rd and King Drive. Then go to one somewhere - ANYWHERE on the northside where whites live and tell me which facility you would have your children use? We already know. And you think color plays no role in who has and who has NOT? Again - laughable. Your comments are articulate and you SOUND intelligent. But you are only fooling YOURSELF BROTHER. You REALLY sound like an educated fool because no matter how many multi-million dollar deals you land, I bet if your coveted privately held white firm was forced to lay someone off - they'd let you go over whitey. I congratulate you on your corporate success, but please take a day off from being a stepinfetchit and try living in the REAL world. I show you little respect by calling you what you are (uncle tom, etc.) because you show me and other brothers and sisters little respect when you flaunt and parade your successes and give WHITEY credit for them. Then slap us in the face with your comments about libraries and dubs. Don't get it twisted. Whitey rolls MORE dubs, rolls more blunts, does more whoring, listens to more rap music, drops out of school and uses MORE oxycontin, heroin and ecstacy than all the brothers in Chicago. I bet some of the good ole boys are your firm indulge frequently. Oh and they wear grillz too. But I've already given you more airtime than you deserve. Keep thinking you're one of them. We don't want (or need you) to speak for us, to us, against us or about us.

I know you guys are tired of seeing my name through out this blog and I promise to take at least 2 days off. But I am reading these comments from these white people and it is KILLING ME. HELLO WHITE AMERICA. R U LISTENING? WELFARE WAS NOT CREATED FOR BLACKS. THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT DOES NOT, HAS NOT and WILL NOT EVER CARE IF A BLACK CHILD, HIS MOTHER, HIS UNCLE, HIS SISTER OR DOG IS HUNGRY. MORE OF YOU (WHITE PEOPLE) APPLY FOR, WOULD DIE FOR, TRY FOR AND RECEIVE PUBLIC AID THAN BLACKS AND HISPANICS. TO BE IGNORANT IS TO BE UNINFORMED. CONSIDER YOURSELVES NO LONGER IGNORANT. AND STOP WITH THE ASININE COMMENTS ABOUT WELFARE AND BLACKS AS IF THEY ARE SYNONOMOUS. I am done. . . for now. But I'll be back. As often as I read a statement made by an uninformed white or black person is as often as I will comment (unless Mary bans me. . . LOL). CHECK YOUR FACTS BEFORE MAKING THESE RIDICULOUS COMMENTS. YOU CAN'T BELIEVE GEORGE BUSH AND YOU CAN'T BELIEVE THE MEDIA. WELFARE IS FOR WHITEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good day.

I have to agree with a lot of the comments from white people that we are sometimes afraid to say anything because it seems we can't even bring something up without getting attacked. The funny thing is is that as a white person I have experienced racism against me when my children and I moved to Miami. My kids really felt it in their school. They had been at an integrated school up here and didn't have any problem with kids of other races until Miami. Because they were not Cuban, Puerto Rican or from South American they were really picked on. I myself felt it when I went into some businesses. It was eye-opening because while the action was not overt and very subtle, I knew without a double I was being discriminated against. No it does not feel good and EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE deserves respect and to be treated with dignity. I personally would rather live in an integrated community rather than an "all white" one because there are some weird variables when that is the case. I really pray that someday it will not be an issue and that a person will be judged solely on their qualities as a Child of God.

just thought I'd point out to the folks on both sides who say the "other" side never listens, that it is quite apparent that there are many thoughtful people of all races/ethnicities on this blog so far.

There are also people who might as well be talking to a wall, however. the dialogue is how understanding is increased, not by getting judgemental or dismissive of people.

but it's nice to see people at least have a chance to share their views.

Hello Mary, I am a white middle aged fat guy and enjoy your column very much. I agree with you about a lot of things. You asked why white people don't like to talk about race, well here is my take. First, why do blacks and latinos continue to blame white people for their problems. I am tired of being classified as a bigot and a racist. I as a person have all the same problems that blacks and latinos have. Don't tell me that I had all the advantages growing up because I did'nt, in fact I think that this is a major misconception among minorities that all white people are well off. I and all the other men in my generation were discrimated against (I'm 54yrs old)by the reverse discrimination laws that were instituted in the 70's.The reasons for any success that I have are due to having the tools to deal with adversity and disapointment.This is something that I have to credit and thank my parents for. They taught me the hard lessons that have to be learned to succeed in life. One of these lessons was to take responsibilty for my own life and not to blame other people for my problems. Perhaps the breakdown in the family unit has alot to do with the problems people have today both black and white. True or not white people are tired of black people pulling the race card. Although sometimes it is justified it loses its power because now it's almost as if you are crying wolf. There seems to be alot of bitterness in the black community. Who's fault is it that the graduation rate for black males is so low, whose fault is it that the crime rate in black neiborhoods is twice that of white neigborhoods. AT 12yrs old were is the guidance that is needed for a kid that is being recruited by a gang or being recruited to be a prostitute, were are the parents of these kids? This is not a race issue it is a family unit issue. It is sad that in this day and age we are still worried about race and placing fault, instead we should be worried about our children and were they are and what they are doing. White people are wornout after all these years of hearing about and being blamed for the problems of the black community. Blacks need to get together as human beings and solve these issues. once this happens we can all get over this race thing and take equal responsibility for these problems. Thank you for letting me express my opinion. I know that most of your readers, will disagree with me and you will need alot of guts to print this letter but you asked for it. signed, Southside Tommy

I didn't read all the previous post so forgive me if I am repeating what somebody else has already said.

What I have experienced as a white male, is that we (white people) do talk about race, we simply don't talk about it in mixed settings because I feel many white people are scared of being labeled a racist. The interesting thing is we want to say many of the same things as others from other races, but often times when we do, it's construed as racists.

I have had conversations with friends of mine who are black, Asian and Mexican and we all have the same views on the issue, but they agree with me in that when a white person expressed these views, many people view them as racists. This perception I think has caused many white people to simply keep their mouths shut.

Not to sound politically incorrect, but other races ask for understanding. Isn't it hypocritical not to at least hear the view points of another race and take into consideration their feelings then? Often times this doesn't happen and I wish it would because it can open up dialogue on the issue and then real progress in tolerance could happen.

Mary,

Let me say that I read your column all the time. There are times I agree with what you say and times I walk away feeling frustrated. What we all must come to understand is that we are all apart of the same race, the human race. We all come from different cultures, but we are all human.

Why will “whites? not discuss race, because no matter what we say or how we say it we are told we don’t know because we have never experienced discrimination and hate because we are “white. “ While it is, true that discrimination, and racism rears it ugly head more often in the minority cultures, do not think for one minute that “whites? having experienced it either. I am a “white? female; I grew up on the west side of Chicago and was one of the few “white “girls in my grade school. I endured vast amounts of discrimination and racism and at the hands of my fellow students. If I won an award it was not because I worked harder than anyone to receive it, it is because I was “white.? Pulled over and searched by police for driving in my neighborhood simple because I was “white “. Questioned, grilled, and treated badly by the police because of my “white? status. I have friends whose family members do not like me and treat me with disrespect simple because I am “white.? Just because we are not vocal about it does not mean it does not happen to us. If someone has chosen to dislike me whatever their reason may be, I chalk it up as their loss.

Minorities can be just a racist and discriminatory as “whites“. I know of circumstances where “blacks? don’t want the “Spanish? moving into their neighborhoods and do everything they can to prevent it. Moreover, if by chance the “Spanish? family does move in are harassed and treated badly by those who do not want them in their neighborhood.

I am the proud mother of a bi-cultural daughter. I have had people stop in my stores and ask me is she mine and then inform me that she can’t be mine biological because her skin is to dark. It has never been a “white? person to stop and say this to me but a “minority? person. They do not stop to think about how what they are saying affects my child. I have learned about my child’s culture so she will be able to hold her head up and be proud of the different cultures that make her the unique and special human being that is she. I work three jobs to give my child the life and education that she deserves. My goal is to raise a woman who is proud of who she is and what cultures are hers. To understand that the choices she makes in life effect her future. She is no stranger to racism and discrimination there are members of her family that have nothing to due with her because she is bi-cultural. I tell her it is their loss; they are missing knowing her.

I talk about discrimination and race I talk to my about it child. I teach her that she should treat others the way she would want to be treated. It all starts in the home, their will always be people who do not care for you for whatever reason they may have, but you do not let those reasons hold you back for being everything you want and dreamed you can be.

Discrimination and racism is not a “black? “white? issue, it is a human issue. Until we all learn to accept and embrace the differences, we all have whether it be in our cultures or appearances, discrimination and racism will be a constant gap.

People discuss what affects them. Consider this, if we all had the same educational, economic, employment and housing opportunities across the board, would there still be a need to discuss race? How much of this discussion is centered around any one or more of those issues-the haves and the have nots and why. There are certain pockets of African-Americans who have been savvy enough to figure out how to play the game and those who have managed to get themselves an education, a well-paying career, and a comfortable home. But everyone is not cut out to be a board chairman. Most of us are worker bees. Most of us will never own a successful business. So for those people who do not strive to run a Fortune 500 but work every day as a worker bee, do they not deserve to live in a nice home and be able to afford food? What about those people who work nine hours a day for minimum wage and still have to decide whether to buy food or pay rent? I would be angry too. It’s hard to pull up those boots when you can’t afford to buy them in the first place.

Americans have to discriminate against some body for some thing. If it’s not the color of our skin, it’s how much money we don’t make. Even the rich discriminate further by making the distinction between new money and old money. Even billion-dollar Oprah is excluded from some exclusive clubs.

My wise father always told me growing up that my responsibility to myself and to my race and the human race respectively, is to become as educated as I possibly could, conduct myself beyond reproach, and treat everyone as I wanted to be treated and let everything else take care of itself. He said you change other’s perceptions based on how you conduct yourself. Ignorance has no color.

I have three specific questions for Mary or for anyone else who would like to answer them.

For at least the last fifty years whites have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into black communities in the form of welfare benefits, community grants, schools, head start programs and various other programs. Any black kid who wants a free public education can get one. Affirmative action and diversity have made it more attractive for companies to hire qualified blacks.

So here are my questions:

1. After all of that, what exactly does whitey still need to do?

2. At what point do the failings of the black community become the failings of the black community and no longer the fault of whitey?

3. And how exactly is it whitey's fault that blacks in disproportionate numbers drop out of school, make babies at 12, deal and use drugs, and engage in other self destructive behavior?

Dana's comments provide a shining example why most whites feel it's not worth the trouble to even discuss race. She's taken commments she doesn't care for and branded the white authors as racist. She rants on about how whites cannot possibly understand the injustices that blacks have suffered. It's a discourse on the shortcomings of the white folk. The guy who questioned why a white person would simply want to be a pinata or punching bag had it correct. Forget it man, it ain't worth it. I can't remember breakfast but I have to be constantly reminded of 400 years ago. Let me ask you black people this. Isn't slavery really the best possible thing that could have happened to you personally? I mean, look at the situation in Africa. Is there a one of you who would rather take your chances over there? Come on now, knock it off with the 400 years bit. Even the most spineless liberal can't sympathize with that schtick.

I think the main reason white people don't talk about racism is because they are ashamed of it, imagine having feelings and actions about an issue, but , like a coward, being afraid to admit how you really feel. Why are you afraid to admit how you really feel? Most people are quick to admit that racism exist, but most people will not admit they are a part of it or harbor these feelings of racism. Instead, people tend to down play it and pretend it doesn't exist when in fact racism is very, very, very real and has a detrimental affect on a black person's life from the day we are born until the day we die. I am glad I can stand up like a man and speak loud and proud about anything I believe in. Lastly, America will never reach it's full potential as long as racism exist in this country.

Very interesting perspectives. From my own personal experiences, Chicagoland is the most racist area I've ever been in, having lived on both coasts and then here for 5 years. Even down to a federal government employee addressing me with, "Your people and their names," (among other derogatory comments) which, of course, was nicely swept under the rug when it was brought to the attention of upper management. I've never in my life had more people make such a huge deal over my skin color than the midwest. Even down to the carnival worker making the remark, "The hood is here," as my son and I walked passed his dunktank. We've got 1 more year here and I will never look back when I leave.

the large number of posts to Mary's first entry her blog in just a week show how many of us do want to talk about race (although it seems to me likely fewer are from whites than reflect the percentage of white readers of the online SunTimes.)
I am a 40+ white woman who has lived most of her adult life in Chicago. Through my workplaces and community involvement I have had more exposure to blacks than most of my white peers.
So, I am dismayed but not surprised at the defensiveness in most of the white responses I've seen (As soon as we talk about race we are labled racists...)
I think one of the barriers to open and honest discussion about race between whites and blacks is that many whites have had little to no exposure to the concept of institutionalized racism,the history that produced it, and pay too little attention to dialogue among black thinkers and writers they could have access in the media, to be able to dialogue with blacks on the same wavelength if you will.
Whites tend to reduce racism to a matter of personal predjudice based on skin color alone.
It seems to me that both the lived experience of suffering the effects of instutionalized racism and more dialogue about it in the black community and media, have made many blacks able to discuss the topic with more insight and sophistication than most whites can.

It might help to begin the discussion with the definition of "racism", but my experience says that even then you will still not likley get past disagreement with most whites.

I think because it is hard enough enough to get by for all of us of any color, keep our jobs, pay our bills, hold our families together, whites don't want to face the reality that Blacks face something so much harder - and Blacks really do. White supremacy is not just in a handful of skinheads or isolated bigots. It is built into America's institutions, history and every person who lives in this culture,'s individual psyche to some extent. I think white people have to come to a realization of this - that we all internalize some racism from our culture and need to consciously wrestle with it before we can have have truly honest discussions.

Frankly I can count the number of white people I've met in my life who I think truly "get" how racist America is on one hand, but I know many more blacks who understand how real white supremacy in America is.

Thankfully the younger generation of whites seems to be moving a bit ahead of my own, here - but radical changes are needed in the perspectives of most whites if we as a society are going to reverse the near genocidal effects of institutionalized racism still has on Black Americans.
I wish I knew better how to help make that happen - as a white person when i've spoken honestly about my views on race, other whites often respond with some defensiveness and rejection to me as, just they do to Blacks.

lets get a few things straight. first when you say that what happened over in beverly was politically motivated. facct . those thre boys beat that kid bad. charges filed by states attorneys office are appropriate. if that happened in elgelwood or bronzeville or roseland the same would of applied.

although i dont think that that kid would have been in those neighborhoods because he doesn't live over there. jesse jackson would of been all over this if were the other way around. he would of been marchin in the streets.

lets face it . it is what it is and those kids need to be punished. enough said.

I am a white conservative male. I do not know what it is like to be black or discriminated against because of my race
I do know that I am in agreement with the black community on several issues:
1. I do not trust goverment. I guess the difference is I distrust politicians because of the nature of politics and not because I think they out to get me.
2. I do not trust the press. Pretty much the same reason as above.
3. I am a christian.

One of the places we disagree is puzzling to me. I would never accept disarmament from the government.

Blacks appear to support gun control at all levels. So much so that in the City of Chicago law abiding citizens cannot own hand guns. This law mostly affects blacks and is racism at it's purist form.

I also am extremely puzzled by the overwhelming support of Mayor Daly. The pass given him by the black community over the past torture allegations is amazing.

The black vote is powerful. Blacks need to recognize the power they have with their ballot. The democrats take you for granted and the republicans have written you off. Find a way to capitalize on your numbers.

These are my thoughts. The topic is interesting and Mary I have allows enjoyed your column.

The main problem is that everyone is talking...and no one listens regardless of race.

I think white people feel intimidated to discuss race, because when they start expressing their opinions about other races they may be labeled as racist.

A little personal history...

I'm white. I've met people from all over the world. I was poor growing up. We didn't have a lot. I paid my own way through college sometimes working full time with a full time schedule. My mom and dad always raised me to see the "pages under the book cover". When I was in elementary, junior high, high school, college I always had friends from all walks of life. I dated a girl from Pakistan who was completely bent out of shape about "racism" (There's only one race-the HUMAN race. We all bleed red blood) and even she said to me, "You don't even see me as brown do you?"

I replied "Do you want me to?"

Hell, my brother's best friends for a long time were black and indian.

I took a course on "ethnic" authors and this is what I heard for the whole semster: White people are the reason everything is wrong with blacks, latinos, asians, indians, etc. in America. My teacher was white! It was terrible going to class and being ripped apart for things I never did.

Did I put anybody in chains?
NO.
Did I whip and beat women and children?
NO.
Have I kept people from succeeding because they have a better tan than I do?
NO.

Why should I feel terrible for things I have NEVER done? The fact is I shouldn't.

The PC police have come up with cute names for everyone: African-American, Asian-American, Latino-American, Italian-American.

So What am I? A Polish-German-Italian-Croatian-American? A Catholic-American?

No. I'm "white". What about my rich and intricate history? What about my ancestors that were killed in concentration camps during WWII? What about those that escaped?

Sorry, you're lighter than a brown paper bag, so we don't care.

White people have become a joke...a punchline. Every black comedian rips whites a new one. How many white comedians return the favor?

None I can think of.

Remember the movie "Undercover Brother"? Bashed white culture mercilessly (To be fair though, I always thought `Friends' was pretty dumb. I also thought `Martin' was stupid, too). Could you imagine the reaction towards Hollywood if a major movie studio came out with a movie bashing "black culture"? If you thought the L.A. riots were bad, they would pale in comparison. If you think I'm joking, picture a white guy in a room full of black people ripping gangsta rap. Tell me how that one turns out.

In a country where freedom of speech is championed, it has become freedom for some. White people don't talk about "race" (Again, there is only one race-the HUMAN race) because anything that is critical of anyone or group is automatically wrong and they're ignorant. Every other ethnicity can voice their opinion about whitey and it's okay. A white guy says something about another ethnicity and even if it is right, he's shot down. There is no give and take on both sides. There is only "we're going to give you our opinion, white boy, and you're gonna take it." Is this making anyone mad? Good. It is supposed to. This is how it was a 100 years ago, but the positions were reversed. So...where does it end?

I know this sounds like a hate post, but it isn't. It is the frustration I feel over the injustice of it. Black leaders fought for equal rights for all people. Were they just fighting for some people?

We're all in this together. We have to put aside inconsequential differences and focus on other things.

In this country, we are all one thing and one thing only: American. That's it. Nothing else. If you have to put another country in front of "American", I suggest you go there because that country means more to you than this one. We have such a great mix of people, ideas, perspectives, experiences, etc., we should use all of these things to push our country farther. We shouldn't be using them to rip it apart. We have to be smarter. Emphasizing the differences between people makes them more distant not closer.

Just because a black man kills a white man, we don't say all black men are killers. We have to say THAT man was a killer. The sad thing is we get lazy and start attributing characteristics to groups of people. The Neo-Nazis make me violently ill. I don't want to be associated with them in any way. Yet there are people that do because I'm white. Sucks when others judge you before they know you, doesn't it?

I remember an interview with Morgan Freeman by Charlie Rose. The two men talked the whole show about his career and such until near the end where Rose said to Freeman he had to ask him about him being an "African-American" actor which Freeman stopped him and said, "The most offensive thing you can call me is `African-American'. I'm an American."

If the differences are pushed to the forefront, where does that leave the similiarities?

I would be considered a racist if I spoke my mind on the blacks in Chicago or anywhere for that matter. I was a single mother with 3 children and no education but at 35 I went to college and recieved a degree and began to work in order to supply for my childrens needs. What I don't understand is how "all whites" don't understand the black persons plight what about understanding a white persons plight. Being nasty to me because I'm white is just as bad as the reverse of it. Why is it that there can be a United Negro College and not a United White College. My kids could not get a "full" ride because they were not considered a minority and my income was above the poverty level (not by much). How can there be a BET network but not a WET network. It gets old to see reverse discrimination and yet when as a white person whenI ask those questions I would be considered a racist and yes I become bitter because of it.

Way to go Mary, you are keeping racism alive and kicking. Wonderful Job, congratulations. Debbie

I have a problem with the black "middle class" who are selective about the arguments and causes they will weigh in on because of how comfotable they are. My problem isnt with the racial segregation of this city, its with the class segregation perpetuated by affluent Negroes within our own communities (native and out of towners) In ten years the the propert taxes will be high as hell in Bronzeville. United Center area, etc and white folk will move u out like u did many of the black folk that could no longer afford to be there. We can deal with the issue of racism when we better take care of ourselves, especially those that have amazing opportunity to reach back. It takes a village, and yet WE ARE DIVIDING THE VILLAGE, no one else! If u r comfortable that means its more work to be done.

Like I stated in a earlier post most whites will never get it, they are descended from people who thought it was Okay to have slaves(shows their mentality)so they have passed that gene of ignorance down to the offspring(genetics?)so no matter what statistics you hit them with they will continue to try to blame blacks for slavery.crime,poverty and the such when the exact opposite is true(forked tongue?)they or the govt. will never apologize for slavery and some of these posts show some should not be allowed out around decent people(or have pets).With the threat these days of terrorism(domestic an abroad )they rather see blacks as the enemy because it is to them a easier task to backstab their own fellow americans then fight terrorism.No one really believes that whites dont discuss race,they do it mostly out of the earshot of blacks because no matter how many"negro "friends they may say they have, most are not being honest.I like you Ms.Mitchell but Im afraid this is just a small representation of the racist attitudes minorities have faced for a long.long time in American society.(you really cant blame alot of blacks for their so-called attitudes)I would like to thank those white and black good people who were trying their best to articulate themselves in a respectful way (i know its hard)you cant help but wonder about people who claim reverse discrimination when their "kind" has been the main culprits, are they really really aware of what they are saying.How can blacks take anything a white person says to them without taking it with a grain of salt.Yes some blacks are ignorant but with all the stress we have had to endure I am surprised many others have not snapped(we would go straight to jail,whites can kill their whole family and get off with the insanity/post-partum defense)And to those "uncle toms"who go along with what ignorant people (blacks or whites)think you are only hurting your kids and grandkids by helping to perpetuate this travesty called racism.I also said in a earlier post that this is a topic that will bring out the racism in a lot of people and also bring out the good in them,but to some people their minds are stuck on stupid,the behavior of some posters just let you know why we have such big problems in our society.Instead of going after the serial killers,child molesters or Domestic/international terrorists its just easier for some to continue the racist abuse of their fellow man( just like Jon Burge tortue ring,where is the uproar from the white community?.And then you wonder why crime and poverty is so bad when those conditions are homegrown.Well I guess that gives some legitimacy to the saying "racism and (violence)is as american as apple pie."Now do we actually want that as "our" "legacy" to our children.I sure dont.....

One only needs to read Shulon or Dana's blog to understand why there is no open dialog about race in our society. There writings seem to be full of hatred, anger, and blame. It would be virtually impossible to have a "meeting of minds" with a person that is so resentful. Leave the past in the past after learning its lessons and then move on to striving for a better life in the future. Some of these posts graphically illustrate that racism is not confined to one skin color.

There have been lots of good comments in this discussion.

My friends who are parents have told me that they aren't interested in my ideas about child-rearing since I'm not a parent. My boyfriend has been told that his views on abortion are not important since he can never have one. And just yesterday, my boss was told that her opinion on the big-box ordinance didn't matter because she has a white-collar job and will never have to worry about not making enough money.

These examples illustrate why I, as a Caucasian, feel that I can't talk about race. Since it's not something that I've had to deal with, I'm made to feel that I can't have (or voice) an opinion on anything related to the subject. I know a lot of other Caucasian people who feel the same way - the second we try to talk about race, we're given a history lesson.

I say talk. If we don't learn from our past mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

OH WOW
I have read most of the comments and as a 22 year old black female, I can say that whenever I am at work (I work at a major hospital in downtown Chicago) and black people are talking about race relations, white people stand quiet and awed.
Whenever we have meetings and I speak up about topics, I have had some caucasian co-workers ask me afterwards, "Hey did you grow up on the north side" or " what school did you go to". Sometimes I just laugh other times it is offensive. I have even had one doctor tell me, "Wow I would never expect someone from a background such as yours to know so much." WTH?
Now not all caucasians that I have come across are like that. I feel more comfortable around the ones in my own age group. Like someone posted earlier, They may feel outnumbered when around Blacks and keep quiet. Hopefully one day we will all get along.

Sorry to be such a latecomer to the party.

Mary, I've been a steadfast fan for a long time, in part precisely because you talk unflinchingly about this issue. I've left Chicago for rural Indiana yet still follow your column and I'm glad to see that I can now get my Mary fix more than just three times per week.

I'm a white person and I'm comfortable talking about this issue. The only thing that has ever prevented me from doing so is other peoples' comfort levels, and I find this does require a certain sensitivity much like discussing religion, politics or favorite brands of cars or alcohol. Depending on who you're talking to it may not be worth the inevitable ugliness that arises from it.

That said, I'm glad this is an open forum and here's my take.

I feel blessed to have been raised the way I was by my parents. My dad was foreign born and lived all over the world among all kinds of people so he didn't come to this country with the kind of cultural baggage so many seem to be saddled with here.

My mom also has different cultural baggage than the average. She grew up in a small town in Indiana. A rather unique town in that she's nearing eighty years old yet when she was a child she lived in an integrated neighborhood and attended integrated schools. What everyone had in common then was the Great Depression and the fact they were dirt poor and trying to exist any way they could.

These were families that had co-existed from pioneer times. The composition changed greatly with the WWII migration to Fort Wayne of both whites and blacks from the south, which probably brought more racial animosity to this town than had existed previously. Not that things were idyllic here before that, mind you.

Growing up my mom talked to me constantly about her life growing up and the things that made lasting impressions. Her mother made a big to-do about the injustices done to Marian Anderson and Josephine Baker and Paul Robeson when my mom would come home from school with questions about why things were the way they were. Even my grandmother tried to instill the idea that you don't make up your mind about what's right or fair based on the way the wind's blowing but rather by what you know to be true in your heart.

In the second grade, my mom remembered the teacher giving everyone in the class a chance to talk about what they wanted to be when they grew up. There was a black girl who evidently admired her teacher and when it was her turn, she said, "I want to be a teacher, just like you." The teacher was visibly taken aback. "Honey," she said, "I'm sorry but you know you'll never be allowed to do that." The girl was visibly devastated and it upset my mother as well. It made one of those lasting impressions that still haunts her today, and haunts me to reflect on it.

In high school my mom belonged to the drama club and had a black friend who wanted to join. When the black girl approached the teacher she was told, "Well, you're welcome to join. But you know there won't be any parts for you."

"I don't care," the girl replied. "I just want to belong."

What I find poignant about these stories (and they make me cry like a baby to think about them to this day) is that these teachers weren't malicious but rather misguidedly resigned to the idea that they didn't have the power to change the world and were afraid they'd rock the boat and suffer consequences if they didn't toe the official line.

My mom was determined to go to college and was one of the few from her class and one of the few females ever from her school at that point to even try. Girls, white or black, didn't go to college, especially dirt poor girls from her neighborhood. But she managed to get admitted to Hanover College in southern Indiana. While she was there in 1950, the first-ever black student, a female, was admitted. At that time one of the school's big benefactors who'd just donated millions of dollars to have a building built in his name threatened to cancel his gift over this. The president of the school stood his ground and told him to keep his damn money. To my mom this was a a Godsend, a sign that better things were coming for women, for blacks, for all.

But more than fifty years later we still live in a terribly imperfect world even though many much more significant battles have been fought and won.

So what's my take on it all in this highly politicized and polarized atmosphere in which we live today?

Well, I see it as a class thing more than as a race thing. It appears to me that people who've managed to lift themselves up from being uneducated and impoverished don't seem to have the same issues as those who remain so. And I blame politicians and preachers, both black and white, who demagogue to their embittered, disenfranchised, uneducated followers about how their misery is all the fault of the other.

If to the urban mind the GOP looks like the party of Angry White Bigots, to the rural mind the Dems look like the party of Angry Black Welfare Cheats. Of course both caricatures are ridiculous but the parties themselves are to blame for allowing ugly ad hominem rhetoric to continue within their ranks and for exploiting the hostilities of the poorest and most uneducated people of either race to help tip the vote their way without really giving them a damn thing in return. (Meanwhile, of course, they skirt around the needs and wants of the majority of reasonable people in the middle in this country who vote either one way or the other while holding their noses.)

Why can't most white people talk about race? Well, I'm sorry to report that a good many of them do -- amongst themselves -- and it's usually the kind of crap pumped into them by politicians and preachers. As for others, there's this oversensitivity and feeling of guilt, perhaps at witnessing injustice and having been spared it. Survivor's guilt, it's called, in psychological terms.

The answer isn't easy, but it's what some very well-meaning people had in mind forty-some years ago when they began trying to fight the War on Poverty. Education is the great leveler. If we devoted the appropriate resources to ensuring that everyone gets a quality education in this country it would make a huge difference.

Remember the religious wars in Ireland not so long ago? You hear nothing about them now. Why? Ireland in the last two decades has become incredibly prosperous where it was previously impoverished. Contented, educated people don't make war on each other.

As the wealthiest nation in the world you'd think it would be a heck of a lot easier to fix our problems. Why the hell isn't anyone even trying?

I would like for some "white" person to discuss the influx of contraband into black and other minority communities. Gun,drugs,alcohol etc,flowing into these communities at will.Billions of dolars a year is being made by fat cats in penthouses and mansions. Jobs are created for law enforcers,jail guards etc. Not to mention prisions are being built in white communities. I don't believe in hand-out,just get out of the way, i will get it myself. It is easy to say black wants hand-outs,when you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth,and is given every chance in the world to succeed,with an "open door policy". Close the borders to contraband,and make some boats,ships,plane and tunnel arrest. Remove the glass ceiling,and black people will advance.

White people don't talk about race because it doesn't affect them. Was that really your question? You've been in Chicago too long to ask such a question for anything other than the sake of discussion.

Your assumption that white people don't talk about race is faulty, and that has led to more hatred than I've read in quite a while. One need only look at Lucretia so and so's posts to see exactly the sort of Nazi style rhetoric that Mary and her opinions based on other opinions encourages. Interesting how it plays out. Because of Mary, everyone is now entitled to speak for white people and pepper it whith all sorts of insults and assumptions and generalizations. It's not dialogue, it's an attack based on race. I've read several times, "Race doesn't affect them." That's a laugh. I was especially interested in the person who was so astounded by five white guys jogging "shirtless" down 67th Street. Her mind went wild imagining all the priveleges those white people were enjoying, and how it would be different in the reverse. What she's really saying is she can't believe those white people dared show their faces. How's that for integration? I am white and I live a block from 67th St, and if anyone would like to come down and see how privileged I am, feel free. You're lucky so many of us rise above all the abuse, while you complain about things that happen to everyone. For example, the woman who had to follow the airline's carry on bag rules. Imagine. The real problem in all of this is that Mary has opened the door for blacks to speak for whites, and the barrage of insults that came later is very telling about racism and how it works. Now that black activists have succeeded in segregating the public grade schools in Evanston, you've really come full circle.

Hi Mary. Love your columns and love your frank discussions into this and other topics.

I'm white, came here as an immigrant from Poland when 9 and I probably experienced a warmer reception from the black kids than the white ones my first year in school.

I've never had any issue with blacks or African Americans, and I bemoan the same issues you sometimes dwelve into, which are principally using the crutch of racism all too often, lack of pareental overshight and emphasis on education. It's just incomprehensible to me that speaking proper English and doing well in school gets someone labeled as an "Uncle Tom" or "Oreo" in the black community. IMHO this is the biggest barrier to overcome, as well as getting rid of tons of these self styled "community activist" and other lip flappers who are frankly racist (as in anti white) charlatans.

I've had an opportunity to view race relations from a slightly different angle in Latin America, where it's more so about class rather than color of skin. This also gave me the opportunity to learn Spanish well and I now enjoy living in the middle of what is essentially a semi Latino "barrio". (other than the gangbanger trash that needs to be squased).

I like talking about race with open minded people, not virulent blowhards that I've heard on some black Chicago radio stations who are always ready and willing to blame "whitey" for everything.

and as others note, often for white people it's a can't win/ always lose proposition, so why bother?
but if someone such as yourself would invite me, I would and will do so gladly.

As a "white boy" (I'm never offended by that term, btw, I think it's funny, though I've been called "snowflake" in the hood which I find even more amusing)

who emigrated here, I can't help but grimace when stupid things like "slave reparations" are brought up. I wasn't a slaveowner, neither was my father, or grandfather, and my great grandfathers were in fact feudal slaves themselves in Europe.

it's bringing up idiotic concepts such as above that kills any useful exchange of views.

You might also want to tackle the explosive issue of why black IMMIGRANTS into this country (like from Caribbean) , tend to progress in society faster and tend not to get along with so called native black Americans (nobody wants to touch this issue, it's radioactive).

lastly, for your amusement, I've been pulled over DWW (driving while white) several times on the West Side when I visit some friends, particularly at night. The cops are convinced I'm there to buy drugs, and frankly I can't really blame them for assuming this, given the reality of what goes on.

So I just make sarcastic comments to them as they search my car and never find a thing.

Just a friendly reminder: Please do not use words like "whitey" and "white boy" on this blog.

Although some white readers have used those terms to describe themselves, when African-Americans refer to white people as "whitey," it is offensive.

And, really, we would have to shut this blog down if white people started calling black people "blackie."

So let's leave these type of racial references out of the debate.

Thanks.

Trent Brown---it's called a double standard champ. As a black man, you CAN say anything you want without reprecussion. Doesn't work that way for us white people. We're vilified and crucified for giving our honest opinions. Ask Barry Bonds and John Rocker if each example of what I've said isn't true. The former has always been given a pass for racist comments and the latter...well, we all know what happened to the latter. In a fantasy world, we could all say what was on our mind. In the real world, only minorities can do it. The rest of us have jobs and families to protect. If that is cowardice to you, fine.
Lucretia, you're aaaaaangry. Take 2 weeks off. You ain't "schooling" no one, but you are coming across as a black racist.
This is a hopeless subject folks, but it is a little bit of fun to watch some of you pretend you have the answers.

Matt--your comments are excellent and show great perception. As a very angry and racially obsessed woman, Ms. Mary Mitchell knows exactly why she started this topic and so do you and I. It's a way to bash the whites under the "well, I hope this helps" guise. It adds legitimacy to a sinister motive. Lucretia and Dana and a few other crackpots have come right out and said they appreciate the whites who have basically sided with their racist rhetoric. All others need not apply. If you have anything critical or negative to say about blacks and/or their constant use of the race card, don't bother. This space is only for angry blacks and liberal whites who slobber all over themselves when kowtowing to minorities. Like the ones who fell all over themselves apologizing to Mary Mitchell when she got her own medicine at Wrigley Field. Why don't YOU come clean Ms. Mitchell and be honest about why YOU started this. Many whites know who YOU are inside and are calling YOU out. No spin please. A note to the white ultra-lib apologists...stop presuming to speak for most whites when you present your leftist psycho-babble as to why whites don't talk about race. When someone says it's because it's not worth it, or they just don't care..take them at their word.

Blacks here like Dana and others don't want to hear about how blacks enjoy a double standard. They don't want to hear about black freedom to do and say anything they please yet whites are condemned for doing the same. They don't want to hear about the black comedians using white people as cannon fodder while the opposite would be condemned. They don't want to believe it exists and they don't want to believe whites who say that no honest discussion of race is possible because of the double standard. They and liberal whites want to believe that there is some deep psychological reason, like guilt or shame, that causes whites to shy away from discussing race. Well, there ain't no more complicated reason for it than those being put out there. It's a lose-lose-lose-lose proposition. Any white person foolish enough to engage in it in a mixed setting deserves the grief. that they get. If racism exists and it makes your life hard, that's your problem, not mine. I honestly don't care about your problems. If you were born black and can't succeed, well, you're in for a tough life. At no time do I oppress anyone or attempt to oppress anyone. Don't blame me that no one takes it serious because you cry racism over every unfortunate event that occurs in your daily life. I got my own things to get through each day and race relations are the least of the. I've accepted that most blacks will hate me because I'm white. I'm OK with that.

Why do you like to talk about race? You have given your analysis, but honestly, I think you talk and write about it simply because; it is a hot topic which people latch onto.

No different then people debating the War in Iraq.

Plain & Simple!

Black people do not talk about race no more than others do. Your mis- perception happens to be feelings of African-Americans talking incessantly about discrimination, and the past history of a certain segment of the population living in the United States.

If white people discuss race openly with other ethnic groups, and a comment is NOT understood by the other people they are automatically labeled a racist or considered a racist remark.

Do you like being called a RACIST? Or any foul name for that matter?

How can you discuss race when one group is hyper-sensitive to every word being said by another individual?

Black people get upset when a White person gives a speech, and the statement "Those people...blah..blah..blah..", comes out of their mouth, and now it is consider a racist remark....*sigh*

When speaking about another group of people "YOU ARE THOSE PEOPLE!", unless you really know a better way of stating it.

Question Ms Mitchell? How many times have you said in your life time, "THOSE WHITE PEOPLE?"

Those people that live in the projects are a lot different than the ones living in detached homes, don't you think?

Even though both groups are of the same ethnic background, one is slightly different than the other, especially in political, economic, educational and other areas of life.

Latinos, Asians and Whites talk about race as much as the Blacks do.

The difference with which you probably are searching for is the races of each ethnic group.

I will explain it in my layman terms with hopes of not offending anyone.

There is an ethnic race of Africans, Caucasians and Asians. (I don't think this is right, but doing the best I can to explain it)

Within the African ethnic group there is various races, such as the tribal people still in Africa, and the names used for each country in Africa (i.e.), Nigeria-Nigerian. Congo-Congolese, South Africa-South African, etc.

Caucasians ethnic group there are races of Germany-Germans, Poland-Polish, Ireland-Irish, etc.

Asians ethnic group are China-Chinese, Japan-Japanese, Korea-North or South Korean, etc.

Latinos, Hispanics or more importantly people of Spanish-speaking countries, is the one that I am not sure about. I have always thought they all came from Spain to populate the lower half of the United States, but I am not sure about this. Yet I have also, thought of Latinos as dark-complexion Africans who were dropped off by the slave ships where Spanish was spoken. (Could someone please advise me on this?)

My issue is where Native Americans fall into this spectrum. What ethnic category are they? Is it White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or a mixture of all, or a completely separate ETHNIC group?

Anyway, for white people to be able to talk about racial matters is to NOT called them racists every time you (we) do not agree with their assessment of how we view the world.

This is America. Black Americans must accept they are more American, than African. In making this statement, partake of the present benefits from previous ancestor’s struggles, regardless of the past history.

If knowing that your ancestors were outlawed not to be taught to read and write, in 2006, there should not be one child of African ancestry focused on getting an education, regardless of present situations.

Again, if you know that you will be antagonize and called a racist, why say anything?

Why do you like to talk about race? You have given your analysis, but honestly, I think you talk and write about it simply because; it is a hot topic which people latch onto.

No different then people debating the War in Iraq.

Plain & Simple!

Black people do not talk about race no more than others do. Your mis- perception happens to be feelings of African-Americans talking incessantly about discrimination, and the past history of a certain segment of the population living in the United States.

If white people discuss race openly with other ethnic groups, and a comment is NOT understood by the other people they are automatically labeled a racist or considered a racist remark.

Do you like being called a RACIST? Or any foul name for that matter?

How can you discuss race when one group is hyper-sensitive to every word being said by another individual?

Black people get upset when a White person gives a speech, and the statement "Those people...blah..blah..blah..", comes out of their mouth, and now it is consider a racist remark....*sigh*

When speaking about another group of people "YOU ARE THOSE PEOPLE!", unless you really know a better way of stating it.

Question Ms Mitchell? How many times have you said in your life time, "THOSE WHITE PEOPLE?"

Those people that live in the projects are a lot different than the ones living in detached homes, don't you think?

Even though both groups are of the same ethnic background, one is slightly different than the other, especially in political, economic, educational and other areas of life.

Latinos, Asians and Whites talk about race as much as the Blacks do.

The difference with which you probably are searching for is the races of each ethnic group.

I will explain it in my layman terms with hopes of not offending anyone.

There is an ethnic race of Africans, Caucasians and Asians. (I don't think this is right, but doing the best I can to explain it)

Within the African ethnic group there is various races, such as the tribal people still in Africa, and the names used for each country in Africa (i.e.), Nigeria-Nigerian. Congo-Congolese, South Africa-South African, etc.

Caucasians ethnic group there are races of Germany-Germans, Poland-Polish, Ireland-Irish, etc.

Asians ethnic group are China-Chinese, Japan-Japanese, Korea-North or South Korean, etc.

Latinos, Hispanics or more importantly people of Spanish-speaking countries, is the one that I am not sure about. I have always thought they all came from Spain to populate the lower half of the United States, but I am not sure about this. Yet I have also, thought of Latinos as dark-complexion Africans who were dropped off by the slave ships where Spanish was spoken. (Could someone please advise me on this?)

My issue is where Native Americans fall into this spectrum. What ethnic category are they? Is it White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or a mixture of all, or a completely separate ETHNIC group?

Anyway, for white people to be able to talk about racial matters is to NOT called them racists every time you (we) do not agree with their assessment of how we view the world.

This is America. Black Americans must accept they are more American, than African. In making this statement, partake of the present benefits from previous ancestor’s struggles, regardless of the past history.

If knowing that your ancestors were outlawed not to be taught to read and write, in 2006, there should not be one child of African ancestry focus on getting an education, regardless of present situations.

Maybe this is why some people don't talk about race, regardless of what is being done, we got complaints. Sometimes they are legit and sometimes they are not.

*Later*

It looks like I submitted the following to the wrong blog date. Please consider it a response to the blog, why I talk about race. This should be considered real live evidence that I don't read blogs.

I really don’t read blogs but I stumbled onto yours, Mary, when I went to the Sun-Times bookmark to give it a look-see. I looked to see something specific and since I had enough time to glance at the headlines, I was immediately drawn to yours. The word race draws me to people’s writing. I wondered what you were going to say so I read through, looking for your argument, wondering what you were putting out there. And I made a mental stop at the part where you described where you were when the question occurred to you, at DePaul University. Then I read on and imagined the room you were in; I visualized the big room, filled with people talking about race, few white people there. I stopped for a bit and went to the top of the blog to see when it was written. When I estimated when the talk must have happened, I had my excuse for not being there. Life has been so busy, so filled with other thoughts. With reduced guilt, I read through the responses to your basic question and I cogitated a bit. I remembered being in perhaps the same big room talking about race a number of times. I was there when the brilliant Patricia Williams talked about the complex ideas that spin through her brain. She worried about “gray babies? and spoke of American legal history, telling of modern legal dilemmas concerning the selling of human eggs to fertilization clinics; using the word commodity, she reminded us that a black person was considered a commodity when our vaunted constitution was written. I was in that room when Noel Ignatiev talked about how the Irish became white. I got used to going to the big rooms, where more famous people draw crowds at night, because I was encouraged to go in the smaller rooms that define DePaul. In these rooms, professors were talking with me about race and power and economics and gender and culture and sexuality. They were the ones who urged us all to go to the big rooms and listen to the people that came to DePaul to speak their point of view. When I go to the talks in the big rooms, I am often quiet because I am genuinely confused about the how to reconcile my thinking about it all. This is despite the fact that I was in one of those smaller rooms when I heard an exquisitely structured, morally righteous, argument delivered by the eloquent Michael Dyson, who is sure that race rules all other aspects of identity. I first heard Dyson when he introduced John Edgar Wideman who spoke in a big room. Wideman spoke about the American prison system, where his brother is doing a life sentence. His brother will spend his life with so many other black men, locked away, while John Edgar keeps talking and writing to figure out if talking and writing about race can change the tragedy in his own family or in future families. I vaguely remember that Wideman quoted a Frenchman who said something like: a country’s prison system exposes it’s soul for all to see. Remembering it is hard, because these incredible discussions happened before the twin towers fell. They took place before we handed the US President the authority to declare war for all of us. But recently there was cause to join others in big public spaces at DePaul where we talked about race and tolerance and God. The president of DePaul led the way and the community of DePaul gathered between classes and after classes to say publicly that hatred sprayed on the walls of our place was wrong and we committed ourselves to showing the people who spewed that hatred that they were not sitting among kindred spirits. There is one white person whose lack of discussion about race defends Mary’s perception very nicely. It’s the most famous white person in the world today, our president, Mr. George W. Bush. There are plenty of them in our congress as well; our elected officials who for years have known about the levees and the people who sat near them; the fact that they knew about it is in the public record. I wonder if there is anyone in America who doesn’t think about race when they remember the scenes that were broadcast to us all after Katrina’s rains broke the levees and sent people running for their lives. Chicagoans’ ears pricked up with the phrase, flood in the ninth ward, even though it was New Orleans’s ninth ward that they were talking about, not ours. I have to honestly say that I don’t know if fiscal oversight of public funds meant for the public good, is in the job descriptions of our senators and congressmen, because I’ve never read their job descriptions. I bet that there is something like that in those job descriptions. When these people stand for election again, will we Americans ask them to account for the failure of our government to spend our money to help our fellow citizens? If not, does race play a part; does poverty play a part? Get ready to sit by and watch the next hurricane season without holding our breath, I bet many of us won’t be able to. We’ll think about that then, because we have all been so mightily pulled toward a different way of thinking and talking for the past few years that discussions of race, though obviously on our minds, isn’t even fighting for the floor with discussion of stem cell research or a bill on the floor of the congress that binds inheritance tax cuts to the first possibility for a raise in the federal minimum wage during this president’s term. I’m glad to see some discussion of the topic of race in Chicago. It has always been on everyone’s mind as far back as I can remember and if one witness is enough, I have seen and been in discussions with enough white people not to worry that they haven’t been talking about race. It feels good to see the Sun Times put it among the headlines on their web site and give the discussion a hand.

V

Douglas, I hope you're kind of kidding, but if you're truly ignorant about Hispanics, I'll explain it for you.

Hispanics is an all encompassing term, mostly realled used and created by "activists" (I tend to loath "activists") and politicans (don't like them either) to represent a "Latino" solidarity that in no way exists. It basically refers to Spanish speaking people which would mean people from Spain, and people from almost every single country in Central and South America with the exception of Brazil, where they speak Portuguese.

None of these people call themselves Hispanics, they call themselves by what they are.. Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans. etc. btw those three groups constitute the largest % of Hispanics/Latinos in the US , and it's a conveniently hidden secret by "Latino community activists" that they don't particularly get along and lumping them together is a big crock.

As to racial composition among Hispanics, that depends, you will get all kinds. You will get completely Caucasian, you will often see a "mestizo" mix meaning white mixed with Indian, or white and black/mulatto mixes, or a combination of all three in varying degrees, or a fairly pure African or Indian mix (the Indians from the Amazon are different from the Indians you get in mountains of Peru, or Bolivia or Central America, btw.

therefore it's quite difficult to lump a Latino into any particular "racial" class. It's also worth noting that black Latinos, despite being discriminated against, have never called themselves as anything other than what they are. You'll never hear a Cuban say they are African Cuban, or a Puerto Rican say they are African Puerto Rican, etc. This is the kind of nonsense that is only thought up of in this country.

btw. Native Americans Doug would be Indians, but Northern American ones, the ones that don't speak Spanish :)

now.. since we're discussing this.. I want to throw out the following three pet peeves on the topic.

1)lack of emphasis on education in the black community - see Bill Cosby comments, etc. This imo is a critical issue.

2)I generally hate LOSERS, of any color/race. etc. The white ones, I can always call "white trash" and do. What word/phrase can I use to call out black losers? or am not allowed to do that if white? I did notice Chris Rock in a show made the distinctions.. and happened to use the "n" word (as in what blacks call black losers). Not that I am interested in using that word, but just curious what other word might I use.

3) I do want someone to touch the radioactive topic of black immigrants from say the Caribbean vs so called "native" black Americans. There is friction between those groups and studies show time and time again, that the black immigrants make faster gains up the "societal ladder" (for lack of better phrasing). Are there any conclusions to be drawn from that.. and if so, what are they?

btw. as a white man, I will also say that I get very annoyed when it is suggested that I am supposed to feel somehow "guilty" for any past and or present racism in this country, even if I have absolutely nothing to do with any of it. This irks me. Deeply.

Mary,

I believe you talk about race because you honestly can not accept the fact white people have it easier than you do. Yes blacks were enslaved for many years,but that happened YEARS ago, and it is time to move on. Many blacks have moved on, but you still play the race card, its quiet sad. You would think a grown women would have more knowledge. Every race and religion has had its problems with slavery or discrimination. You act as if blacks are the only ones. The "white man" is to blame for all their problems. Well I believe Martin Luther King Jr. would be sick to his stomach with the way some blacks act today,especially in the city of Chicago. The West Side, which used to have great neighborhoods in the city is now a poverty strickened area where gangs and drugs run wild. As the papers say test scores an education are very low in this area and I wonder why. It is not the "white man's" fault for sure it is the blacks fault. Blacks should wake up and straigten up their act. And you wonder why Chicago is segreated beacuse no one wants to live by savage animals that just pollute a great city like Chicago!

So what it boils down too is that Meeks says that every Black and Hispanic child in the city are properly schooled in kindergarten and first grade. So the minute they enter the "Mayor Daley run school system" as spoken by Meeks they hit a racially motivated educational barrier. I DON"T THINK SO!
An Education is not something that is handed to you. It is earned. The more you put into learning the more you get back from it. It needs to be instilled into the child by the
Parents in their earliest years before preschool and embraced by the child. Even during my grammar school years, school classmates would criticize you if they thought your were trying to be a "Brain". This was more prevalent amongst the boys than the girls. I'm sure it still goes on today. Good Teachers are important too. Go ask a teacher how involved the parents of their students are and they will probably give you an honest answer. It's easy to blame the mayor. Scapegoats are easy to find. Finger pointing never solved anything. There are pressures from all sides on today's students. What's the family environment? The economic need of the parents to support their family sometimes takes precedence. The gang and drug activity in the neighborhood. Saying that every white mayor and governor are "slave masters" and are totally at fault when it comes to the education disparities is wrong and racist.

I'm a regular reader of your column and agree with you regularly and I am white. The reason I wouldn't want to publically talk about race is the potential cost. You certainly don't want to offend people you work with or be labeled a racist. When I see for example what happened with the OJ trial, I know there is something I definitely don't understand but how can I approach understanding it? Being ignorant equals being a racist. Perhaps your blog is the only safe forum to begin to figure things out.

In response to Wayne O about more whites on welfare than blacks. Statiscaly you are correct. My take on this statement considering blacks comprise 12% of the population what proportion of that 12% is on welfare compared to the proportion of whites. Using this formula I believe a more accurate figure is acheived. I can't wait for your reply.

Dear Mary Mitchell, I applaud you for your honesty on your feelings about race relations, especially considering the fact that a lot of white people out there in the general public, and the some of the ones who responded to this article are annoyed by the subject and wish it would just go away. Considering how much influence and power white people have had over our country since it was created, I really can't understand why a lot of you can't have open and honest dicussions about race relations with the rest of us. Being an African American, I can tell you with sincerity that we are all not a bunch of savages inspite of what the media portrays
of us and based off what some of you might just think in general! Believe it or not, I am aware that a lot of black people from different economic backgrounds might be ashamed of the fact that I just typed that comment, but I'm trying to be truthful here. We all just need to be honest here if we are ever going to get past these issues. Now I'm not talking to all the hard core racists out there or even some of soft core ones. I know you all are a lost cause. There will always be people who don't like each other without a logical reason including people who have the same religion, race, and even the same family members such as cousins, brothers, parents, etc. White people, honestly whether a lot of you realize or not, you treat animals such as cats, dogs, and horses better than you do us even though we are the humans according to your very own scientists that populated this planet. Now that's just a fact! There are a lot of you out there that actually care about animals' rights more than you do our basic rights. I heard Pamela Anderson say so. She said animal rights are more important than human rights! Can you believe that? Now I don't want you to get the wrong impression like I'm looking for sympathy here. I'm not even looking to throw a guilt trip on the white race as whole here because I love myself regardless of what anybody out there may think of me. I'm trust trying to shine the light on how a lot of you truly feel because I believe there's something very out of place when a lot of you would rather see a dog, cat, frog, turtle, snake, and so on and so forth in your home and accept it with an open mind and loving arms than see a black person on the same block as you, the same school as you, and for the "true Christians out there", the same church as you! Don't get me wrong, I hate when black people play the race card when there is no racism to be found, and I am well aware of the fact that we have a lot of our own issues that we bring on ourselves and need to resolve such as black on black crime, but if I can openly admit to some of our flaws and shortcomings, so can you.
By the way for all of you out there who think blacks are just a bunch of uneducated criminals out there, please allow me to list a few great black names here from the past and in the present. The names are Booker T. Washington, Johnnie Cochran, Condoleeza Rice, Judge Mathis, Oprah Winphrey, Magic Johnson, Maya Angelou, Harold Washington, Kanye West, Sean P. Diddy Combs, Russell Simmons, Denzel Washington, Barrack Obama, and Robert Johnson who is the founder of Black Entertainment Television and is now worth a billion dollars. With faith in God along with knowledge and power, everybody can achieve their dreams!

Mary,I have a question for you-
Since there are now more Blacks in the South Suburbs than whites, why are they still calling themselves "Minorities"?
The reason whites don't talk about race is because we aren't allowed to be as openly racist as so many Blacks are for fear of the race card being played against us. I deal with racism on a daily basis here in Park Forest,Matteson or Richton Park. When I go into area businesses the blacks who work there are either rude or act like I'm not even there.My daughter has been called a "cracker" at school and I've been called a "honkey" so please don't act like blacks aren't racists!

Any White person who enters a discussion about race had better be ready for a number of frustrating developments. When things start going against the Blacks they will end it with either "It's a Black thing, you will NEVER understand," or my personal favorite, "You White boys all have White priviledge."
How to argue with that? Is it worth my time? Nope.

Then there's the name calling, which of course White people cannot even think about doing. I'm not happy being called White Boy, (I'm way too old to be a boy), a racist,a Nazi, a White MF, a bigot, a honkey, and again my personal favorite a CRACKER. The first time I was called CRACKER I was just a kid and I thought it meant a Saltine because they like me are white. Made no sense, but through the years I realize that not a lot makes sense when you deal with stupidity. I then found out it was whip cracking, which is completely foreign to a northern born MAN.

Blacks, more than any other group filter everything through the racial filter. Their number one topic is race, which for other groups is not necessarily true. So, lack of interest is probably another reason Whites don't want to keep grinding on the same topic. Abuse, name calling, frustration, and boredom could be a few reasons for me anyway.

I happen to agree with many of the responses that i've read on why white people don't talk about race. Many of the comments that i've read really stole my thunder. I Wholeheartedly believe whites don't talk about race because many of our issues do not affect them. The wise bishop T.D. Jakes once said that when a problem that you hear about in the news is overseas yeah you may be concerned but you really won't care unless that problem happens to occur in your own home and in my own opinion, whites aren't going to be concerned about race, or any problem for that matter unless it's in their best interest to be.

9/11 to me was an example of how passionate whites can truly be about a problem that has a direct impact on them financially or otherwise. The aftershocks of this tragic event is still alive today. Why? Because they won't let it go. They absolutely will not let the spirit of that thing die because they keep talking about it. Kind of how an afflicted African American victimized by a racist society will constantly play the race card. You don't believe me? Have you heard anything on the hurricane katrina victims lately? Where are all of the follow-up reports? They just don't have to be concerned about it that's all.
America never thought terrorism was a real threat because we never had to believe that. Now that it is a reality it cannot be ignored. Just like racism simply cannot be ignored if you're African American.

My point is why should they be concerned if they don't have to be? Unfortunately for us, we have to be concerned every single day.

Racism cuts both ways. The reason that most whites won't discuss race with us is because they feel that we are asking for "yet another handout". The reality is that in many ways those "handouts" have hurt us -personally and through negative outward perception- far more than they have helped.

Many whites would rather pay extortion money to "black leaders"(by the way, there is no one spokesperson for the entire black community)than walk up to an actual black man and duscuss his views. Men like Al Sharpton see this weakness in white people and they capitalize on it for their own benifit. This goes for the many "accomplished" blacks such as Diane Burns who are only black when they are suing for racism.

I don't really sympathize with whites who are afraid of being called "racist" because I have been called every name in the book. Name calling hurts, but you can move on.

I have been educated in many predominantly black schools and I've never been called an "Uncle Tom" for scoring well on tests or been accused of acting "white". I don't know who started that myth. I tend to get the most trouble from affluent blacks who don't want me "embarrassing" them in front of their affluent friends by being non-affluent.

There is nothing physical that white people could offer to help us. I want to
build strong financial institutions in communities that
have not received investment and I wish to provide opportunity for those who feel shut out. In the future, I would like to see business people from around the world coming to the states for a meeting in a majority black business community and not just a majority white area. We all have the tools. We just need to teach each other how to succeed.

If white people are looking for an issue to address then they should focus on getting our troops home from Iraq and getting Guantanamo Bay prison closed.

I previously posted comments about some of OUR shortcomings in the black and hispanic community only to labeled a racist. This usually happens when someone makes a comment that is outrageous and stereotypical or when a comment strikes a ring of truth that proves hard to face. We have to face the facts in our communities. We do have a huge teen pregnancy problem with way too many children being born out of wedlock. For too many young men it is a badge of honor to have a child. Far too many women believe it is OK to be an unwed mother. My hat goes off to all the single parents out there that do the unimaginable and raise children without help but we all know this is not always the case. Street gangs flourish in some of our neighborhoods. Some people have fallen into the idea of allowing ourselves to feel victimized. Slavery! White Man is evil. Reperations! What about the Africans that sold thier own into slavery? Do we ask them for money? Will more money solve OUR problems? Will it make us better parents?Will it bring our children home at a decent hour? Will it curb teen pregancy? Will it stop the flow of drugs into our communities? We have to solve our own problems. No one else. These are all problems that cross cultural lines and if you think that is racist it is probably because I struck a chord.

You all are right. I am angry. I don't and won't try to hide it. I have a right to be. If you lived ONE day in the shoes of an African American in this country - you'd probably be angry as well. And Sorry to disappoint you guys, but I'm not taking two weeks off.

Because what white people are really thinking has been deemed unacceptable. White people who have lived with and around black people think that:

blacks are generally less hard working than whites.

blacks are generally not as intelligent as whites.

blacks are generally culturally destructive people.

blacks are genrally more violent than whites, partiuclarly toward whites.

You have the freedom of speech to say these things, but not if you work for a government, school, or corperation.

Chad Reid - you're funny. Hi to your buddy Matthew Hale for me. Bogey - your entry was interesting. I thought you hit on some good points and I appreciate that you pointed out the fact that your ancestors were not slaveowners. I am aware that many White Americans are only 2nd or 3rd generation Americans and have no ties to slavery but this isn't about slavery. This is about the year 2006 and about how the black man and woman is treated on a daily basis in America (specifically in Chicago). I don't want reparations. I want the same opportunities that YOU have. I am a degreed professional with a credit score of 761 and my husband's is even better. We couldn't buy a home in the Chicago neighborhood we wanted because the neighbors were afraid of all the RAP music we might play (my realtor shared that with us). Yes - we listen to rap but so do PLENTY of whites. I doubt any of the white readers have ever had that specific problem. And Bogey - I have had conversations with other black immigrants(Jamaicans in particular) about this same issue and agree that you are right. They do come here and they progress faster than the blacks that already live here. Just the same as the Koreans, the Pakastanis, the Mexicans and many other immigrants who come here do. And I wondered why that was (outside of the obvious reasons which you most of the white readers could never understand). So I researched how is it that immigrants come here and start up businesses within a year? And how they come here knowing little english, but before you know it are in medical school on a full ride (not loans). If you wonder like I did, do some research on the programs that the government has in place for immigrants and nationalists coming into this country. They get better financial aid than white students. Then, check out the income tax structure for a citizen vs. an immigrant (not illegal aliens); how mch they pay and when. You might be surprised by what you'll find. My sister is married to a Jamaican who was "brainwashed" by all the propaganda as well. He thought all blacks want to rap and play basketball to the extent that he and his parents didn't even associate with Black Americans. They viewed us as lazy and ungrateful. But over the years they have been subject to the same injustices and see what's real. Despite the hard work, education and/or social status - we are all the same in White America's eyes. Yes - many of you read my posts and probably view me as an angry black woman (which at times I am and rightfully so) but the whites reading and responding are just as angry. Because for whatever reason they can't stand for the truth to be exposed. And the truth is whites have "luxuries" in America that blacks don't. I went to college, in fact I went to a GOOD college, I work and I pay my taxes. Yet, I am limited to what areas I can live in, I BETTER not try to get hail a cab if my husband is with me, I am treated like I'm going to steal something whenever I shop at Water Tower and the truth of the matter is I can afford almost anything I want to buy there. I don't have to steal. But it's just crazy that in the 21st century we as Black Americans are still subjected to this treatment and crazier that whites are in denial or just turning a blind eye to it. When my husband and I travel overseas with his company on business, we are rarely (I won't say never because there have been a few instances), but we rarely treated with the disdain with which we are treated at home. If it weren't for my husband's inability to relocate - we'd be overseas in a heartbeat. Yea - I know you all are boo hooing at the thought of me leaving. But fear NOT. When it happens - I'll evite ALL of you to the going away soiree!! Hope to see you there. Even Shecky and Chad!!! Have a good day all.

Mary, I just read your post about blacks calling whites "whitey" and whites calling blacks "blackie". I did call blacks "blackie" in reponding to Lucretia's racist rant. I did that to even up the score, but since you have asked for those words not to be used, it won't happen again. I just hope blacks on here do the same and if they don't, I hope there posts are deleted and not given special treatment.

I want to tell you a story about my grandfather, Vincent. Growing up in Mississippi before moving to Chicago in the early 20s he witnessed severe racism. He once told me that what angered him more than anything else was being called "boy" and he's a grown man.

He would tell me back then you could not look a white man in the face, eye-to-eye, or walk down the street, you had to step aside and let them pass. Being treated like a child angered him more than being called n-----.

People use mental games and using that word with all it's cannotations infuriates some black people. Like my grandfather that word can go both ways and I know words hurt and can sting but being called a "boy" when you are a grown man and yes he wore signs like other men to protest the injustice of being called a boy, "I am a man".

Racism will never leave it will always show its ugly head but how you respond to it will determine its course.

Reading back over all the replies, it's quite obvious most black hate whites. Doesn't matter if you OR your parents weren't even born here. I love how the black racists mention things like a white woman sitting on her "flat ass"! You're really just proving your contempt for us(this has been obvious to me since the 3rd grade) thus, confirming every answer we've given as to why whites can't discuss race. You don't deserve respect because you don't give it - don't blame us! I'd also like to mention how many racist whites I've come across as opposed to black racists. Considering my family is all white, you'd assume we all get together with the media and the government on how to keep this whole conspiracy theory going! I guess we'd also include the blacks who have a heart and a brain since you're so ready to spew your hateful words at them as well. Truth be told I've come across MAYBE 5 or 6 white racists in my life and they disgust me just as much as the black racists that have given me more pain (mentally, physically and emotionally) than I could ever type!! Mary, you're included in that group. The decent people of this world - black white and everything in between need to gather up all these hateful pigs because THEY are the ones that keep racism alive - and send them out to fight this horrendous war. Either they will be removed from this world, leaving it a much better place or they will come to realize how pathetic they've been and how much of their lives they have wasted making jugements, losing out on all the amazing people they could have had to enrich their lives based on SKIN COLOR!!!! BTW - I'd love to have the chance to discuss this is public. I already know exactly how that will go too.

First, welcome to the blogosphere. I salute your courage in opening up with a controversial subject like this.

As a racially-conscious 53 year old white man, perhaps I can shed some light on this issue. Many of us baby boomers grew up during the sixties, and we watched black people on T.V. burning down one city after another. I watched Watts burn on T.V. while living in L.A. While we now realize this represented the actions of only a small part of the black community, these images stuck with us, and so many of us have a visceral fear of blacks, particularly black men, to this day. Perhaps we feel if we speak honestly about race in front of black people, we'll get our "heads bit off" even if we're civil.

There's also resentment by whites misdirected towards blacks because of unwise decisions by the elite. One of those decisions is called "affirmative action". The idea that we have to make up for something we're not responsible for is simply unacceptable. If we bend so far as to accept that, we'll break. In the Mormon Church, our 12th Article of Faith states "Man is responsible for his own sins, and not for Adam's transgressions". This means, by extension, that we cannot accept the notion of "historical guilt" or "societal guilt".

We also get put out when we hear about this so-called "white privilege". Maybe G.W. Bush or Bill Gates has this "white privilege", but I sure as heck don't and most of the whites in my community never will. I expect to have to work well into my Social Security years. What kind of "white privilege" is that?

Then there are Jewish supremacist groups like the ADL and the SPLC who profess interest in racism, but only white racism. Whites are still held to a higher and harsher standard than other races, often times as much by our own people than by blacks.

We in the white community will become more willing to discuss race when we are no longer held responsible for all the sins of the world, past, present and future. While that statement is a bit hyperbolic, it does represent how many of us feel.

Thanks for being willing to open a discussion on such a volatile subject and I hope you'll find my contribution reasonably constructive. Just about every comment posted on here also seemed constructive, although to the one poster who posted in all CAPS, that's considered the cyber equivalent of "shouting" and some forum administrators take a dim view of it. Just some friendly advice for future reference.

I have been thinking about your request for instances of prejudice and I do remember an instance where a black man surely thought he was the victim. Years ago, I was an insurance agent for a company that set up insurance kiosks in a department store chain. No, not Sears. As a sort of employee of the store, I became familiar with the security people in the store.
When you get into the Christmas shopping season, one thing that happens is that people from Chicago go to the malls in the burbs. In a way, you can identify these shoppers.
One night there was a big hooplah in the tv department. A sort of flashily dressed black man attempted to buy a tv using a money order from a bank and he wanted change for the money order. This got the security folks interested. They stopped him and he made a big scene saying that the only reason they did this was because he was black. Perhaps there was an element of truth in this but what he was doing was quite unusual.
The next day, I asked the security folks the outcome of this and it turned out that the check was good and they had dropped the issue.
On the subject of "targeting" their is one group who are clearly targeted and they are usually white. The group is teen age girls. They are the biggest group of thieves that the stores encounter. They hit the cosmetic and jewelry departments with a vengeance. The security people were constantly catching them.

First off, I have to applaud Mary Mitchell for this undertaking.

I was born and raised in the Beverly neighborhood and am now raising a child of my own in Beverly. An earlier post from a Beverly resident stated that our neighborhood is, in essence, successfully integrated. We raise our children together and we also antagonize with each other over the crime our neighborhood has witnessed over the years. We are living together peacefully. We don't need to knock on each other's doors and ask "so what do you think about race?"

I'll throw my hat in the ring and give my solution to abate racial tensions. Let's teach our children not to hate. It's plain and simple. My son is an innocent 3 year old who doesn't see black or white, he sees people. I can cause him to hate. I can feed his mind with distrust, anger and teach him to stick to his own kind. My son can overhear me talking to friends and relatives about race and take my views as his own mantra.

One of the more vocal posters states how she has a right to be hateful against white people. Is that how you will raise your children? That your children will have inherent rights to hate? How horrible for you to go through your life believing that it is your right to hate!

Another poster asks why we can't have WET (white entertainment television). C'mon, now, that's just silly. A post like that will not solve anything or open up any intelligent racial conversations.

Quite a few posts from white people state that they have umpteen black friends and they LOVE Martin Luther King and Malcom X. Really now. That gets us nowhere.

Let's start with our children, our nieces, our nephews. They don't feel the difference between our races. They don't know hate. They're a clean slate for us to teach. I don't want my son to be a victim because someone thought he looked like a "goofy looking white boy." I also don't want him serving jail time because he takes our racial issues into his own hands.

COMMENT FROM MITCHELL:

Thank you for that breath of fresh air.

Shelly,A comment like blacks should forget 400 years of discrimination is ignorant in itself would you encourage the jewish people to forget that the holocaust happened and criticize them for thinking about receiving Reparations?I dont think you would, thats why the basis of your statement was so phony.(we blacks) are independent thinkers and won't fall for the deceptions,so you and others are ticked off (bottom line) ,we dont need racist neocon(artists)to think for us like 90% of your kind. You probably wouldnt risk being called a anti-semite for disagreeing with Jewish people about their tragedy(holocaust) but at the same time want blacks to "forget their own holocaust!if thats not a example of idiocy what is?

I am a twenty-something year old white woman who lives in the Beverly/Morgan Park area. I grew up in the neighborhood and have lived here since the 70's. Why is it when you park your car where it is the black part of the neighborhood it gets robbed? Where I live I have never gotten my car broken into. I always leave my car by my house. I never usually drive my car to the train station because there was always a problem going on for years cars getting broken into. But I did cause it was pouring out. Well what a huge mistake I made. I get off the train coming home from work and found my car broken into. It seems when you park your car right along the tracks or even where it is east of the tracks where it is black it gets broken into. Why does that happen? I am not afraid to talk about race. I have many questions. It seems though that no one has an answer for black on white crime.

MITCHELL COMMENT: Are you saying that cars are only burglarized in black neighborhoods? Because that, of course, is not true. I'm sure cars are burglarized on the North Side, too.

Dana, you say blacks are independent thinkers? Funny, funny, stuff! Then why do 90% of blacks vote democratic? Is it because that's who Jesse Jackson or Sharpton told you to vote for? Also, I find Dana's remark on Aug. 2 at 12:48 P.M. referring to whites as "90% of your kind" to be offensive and racist. I thought the moderator was going to filter out racist comments like that because I am sure a post of mine would not be allowed to refer to blacks as "your kind".

Just one quick post. I thought the moderator was going to filter out any personal attacks? On Aug. 2 12:48 Dana H referred to Shelly's opinion as "idiocy". That's just like calling her an idiot and that is a personal attack. Is Dana H getting a pass from the moderator because she is black and she is attacking whites? I would surely hope not because if she is than how can you expect white people to take part in this discussion?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Jerry, I don't consider "idiocy" a personal attack, not when people are on here calling other people's opinions "ignorant."

For the record, I haven't posted all of Dana's comments just like I have posted all of yours.

If you haven't posted all of Dana's comments, then thanks, I stand corrected. See, I'm a fair, wonderful guy when you really get to know me(ha ha).

In response to Jen's August 3 post. I voted against George W Bush in 2004 because I consider him to be a criminal and a murder, not becuase "Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton told" me to do so. If a man of Bush's character and intelligence had been born any race other than white, no white person in America would have voted for him either.

John Jenkins, first of all, I'm the one brought up Jackson & Sharpton's influence, not Jen. Secondly, keep on voting democratic as a race, because it sure doesn't seem to be helping much with the honorable Mr. Bush serving a second term and the house and Senate both being Republican.

I believe that most whites believe racism is simply hatred of another race expressed through violence or use of hateful words. This kind of racism can work both ways. What most whites don't understand is covert racism. Since it is illegal to discriminate according to race, other reasons are given instead.

For example, one night a friend and I went to a club on Rush Street. There was a line outside to get in. We peeked through the window to see how crowded it was (not super crowded) and waited patiently in the short line to get in. When we got to the bouncer, he denied us entry. When I questioned him why, he responded that we were inebriated (drunk). Obviously that was not the case. This infuriated me because we knew we were being denied because we were black men. He could hide the discrimination because there were a couple of black females inside the club, so he could easily say that blacks were in the club. However, we did not make a scene and vowed to never visit that club again.

Another example. I once held a job where there was a position open and the requirement was to have a college degree. I did not apply for it the 1st time, someone came in and held the position for 6 months. When he quit, I applied for the position. This position was given to someone who not only did not have a college degree, but I trained HIM for the position he was in and then he got promoted OVER me. When I questioned management about this, they replied, "he don't take no (expletive)". And I did? This is not to say that every time a white person is picked over a black person it is racism, but I know a lot of blacks have trained whites on their jobs only to see the white person get promoted over them. Theonly time you hear whites claiming reverse discrimination is when the black person being promoted is obviously not qualified for the position but given the position to satisfy affirmative action. i actually believe this was a ploy to cause backlash, for in a lot of cases, the most qualified black was not going to get the position, but a less qualified black would get it so rub it in to white people. Thus it doesn't surprise me that there is resentment among whites.

There are a lot of blacks who want to open businesses, but they face a lot of obstacles, and it seems unfair that Arabs can come into the U.S. and open stores in black neighborhoods. There aren't a lot of Arab stores in white neighborhoods. Go figure.

How is it that the U.S. can keep poisonous fruits outside the U.S., but drugs from Mexico and Columbia not only infiltrate the U.S., but seem to find their way to urbanized areas?

That being said, despite the obstacles that are thrown our way, we as blacks have to take responsibility for our own actions. If Frederick Douglas,Dubois, and others could educate themselves when blacks were legally DENIED an education, what can we do today? We could learn from Asians and Hispanics and Arabs who know how to pool their resources TO succeed. Whites do not invest in clothes, jewelry, gold teeth, cars, etc, they invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, things that appreciate in value. The appreciation buys the other stuff. Once we learn how to do for ourselves and become very successful for ourselves, the larger society will be glad to tap in and use our resources. Remember the Negro Leagues? It was very successful, then the Dodgers got Jackie Robinson, and the Major Leagues baseball game changed. Those are just some of my many thoughts. Comments and criticisms welcomed.

I don't think a useful discussion about race in America can happen because you basically have two sides of this issue that are on opposite sides of the spectrum. One side believing that racism is a very distant thing of the past and all that is left are blacks playing the race card and the victim tune. The other side believes that racism exists in almost every part of American society. How can a conversation take place when both sides are so far apart? I think each side needs to understand how the other experiences or views racism in America and how much American history, economics and politics influence how whites and blacks view each other. I think we can start by acknowledging that most of America lives in communities that reflect their inhabitants with little to no exposure to other racial groups. TV provides this exposure. Real contact is limited to the time outside of our communities and neighborhoods. We can also acknowledge what we don't know about racial groups other than our own or their experiences no matter how much we think we do. Only by doing so can a conversation on race in America begin. Because when such a conversation is attempted, everyone goes home.

WHAT MATTERS

There seems to be a general acknowledgement that racism does exist. But what then. The very honorable goal of ending racism is not at the top of my priority list, nor is it what I feel is important in my community(Black communities) I agree with much of what John Jenkins said. I went to predominantly Black schools all my life where the teachers were predominantly Black and they were places that hailed achievement. Anti-intellectualism is an American condition, look at how GW Bush is played up to be this under-read everyman. Violence is as American as Apple Pie. Robert Deniro is as much a gangsta actor as Tupac was a gangsta rapper. Those things being said, the effects of these images and the authenticity lent to them by popular culture (see Kurt Loder talking about how 50 cent has "street cred," a supposed hallmark of urban Blackness) is doing a great disservice to our kids. I say that not because I care what others think about Black people but because I care about the future of Black people in America and about Black Cultural Continuity. Most white people I know personally and from afar know about as much about Black people (and a diversity of them) as I know about white people,which is d*mn near nothing outside of daily interactions with select people. So who cares if they ordain sharks like Al Sharpton to "speak" for us. Shoot, Sharpton made over 500 grand just yapping for the Democrats in the '04 elections, good for him I guess at least he got something out of the donkeys (you know what I wanted to call them). I know who the real leaders are and thankfully they're not chasing camera time. And most Black people I know are intelligent enough to filter messages from the anointed Black leaders. And they steady rolling them eyes at the Sharpton outbursts.
My leaders and heroes include people like Danny Davis, Haki Madhubuti, Useni Perkins, Juan Williams, Barack Obama, Mary M Bethune,Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Ida Wells and so on ( I could name hundreds), the kinds of people who go (or went) about the business of community building and preaching self sufficiency and love of self and excellence. Of course they never get air time, and we get the side show acts. But again that's not important. The responses I have read on this page are a reminder that there is much work to be done in the Black community by Black people, without regards to/permission from/overtures to/or handouts from whoever the powers that be are. We must acknowledge and learn from/be revived by examples from a strong history and say to our kids "If Dr Carter G. Woodson walked all the way to Iowa to get an education you are expected to achieve above and beyond." AND "If Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune built an institution tht exist and is strong today by faith and perseverance then you WILL be expected to apply that same strength in your studies." AND "If Gwendolyn Brooks had the presence of mind to write beautifully about Black people and to step out of the ivory tower to give community workshops, then you ARE expected to give of your time to improve your self/family/community. AND If an illiterate slave woman, Harriet Tubman, felt led by the spirit to walk back into the belly of the beast to free more than 300 slaves, then you ARE your brothers' & sisters' keeper. AND if a middle aged sharecropper woman from Hattiesburg Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer, felt that being a part of the political process was so important that she took a beating so severe that it pained her for the rest of her life then you WILL become involved AND If your predecessors felt that the only way to make a better life for their families was to uproot from the agrarian south to move to places like Flint, Milwaukee, Detroit and Oh Lord Chicago where they worked hard (& continue to do so) to make this city what it is then you SHOULD claim it and work just as hard.
this all should be said without reference to what white people are doing. Because as you can see, a faceless blog discussion about racism is just a forum to broadcast whites' frustrations which in relation to what is important for Black folks aint got nothing to do with the price of tea in China. Now don't get me wrong I have had racial discussions with some white people I consider friends, or with whom I associate, that have been semi-refreshing, then again so is a glass of water and neither of them solve any problems in my community.

When people start treating people as they want to be treated...and quit allowing the politicians to divide us...and listen to our "inner souls," then we are free...as Dr. King wanted, and said... race has no bearing...war, what's it good for? And we're sitting here, feeding you, Mary? No.... your blog is good..with good intentions. Reading on, it intensifies it and undermines my relations with the black or, "different color" skinned, professional people, middle class black people, and those I knew from childhood. I don't support your intentions in this blog. You seem to antagonize and blow up - out of proportion a problem, allowing people to post, and not answering or responding to each post.

Something is not right here. Instead of being an insigtful blog, with you answering....you've created more problems for your race.

Some of my best friends are Black and you insult them - promoting this blog without answering. Actually, you're kids ARE messed up before kindergarden...we didn't mess them up. Their parents did.

MITCHELL REPLY:'

It is not possible for me to answer every post. As for creating more problems for my race, how is that possible? Not every person who posted a response to this blog is angry, upset, hateful or racist. Some posters have reaffirmed my belief that there are things we can learn from each other even when we pretend we cannot.

Ryan Davis, what was the donkey reference? Did you want to say a word that rhymes with donkey? And if so, I ask the moderator to censor any further hateful and racists posts by Ryan Davis.

Years ago while I was in college, REV. Jesse Jackson gave a speech at our campus. At the end of the speech, he held a question and answer session. One white student asked, voice trembling, why he always talked about helping black people, always talked about affirmative action, anad why he never talked about helping white people. A surprised buzz and then a deafening silence fell as everyone waited for his response.

REV Jackson replied. "Since you were a little girl, people have told you you could be anything you wanted to be, even the president of the United States. You look on TV and you see people in those positions who look just like you, so they are people you can identify with. A black child looks on TV and sees white people in most everything. His aspirations are not reinforced by who he sees on TV. I speakfor all disadvantaged people, the squeaky wheel gets the oil." (This is somewhat of a paraphrase). I believe at the time he was a presidential candidate ( the second time).

I remember being in a TV journalism class and one night per week, our class had to get news stories and air the newscasts. Our editor was a black grad assistant. At the end of the semester when the professor asked for comments about the class, he received some good constructive criticism, then one student was upset because some of the stories covered African American issues, issues she did not deem important. Of course I strongly disagreed, pointing out that just because it was not important to her, it was indeed important. This is where a lot of issues between blacks and whites appear. Since whites control the media, it is whites that decide what gets reported and what doesn't as well as how it gets reported.

AH...Jerry

JERRY...the word I was going to refer to, in my reference to the DEMOCRATIC PARTY was A*S. a symbol for the Democratic Party is the donkey, just as a symbol for the Republican Party is the Elephant. Stop fishing

The Donkey(I wanted to say a*#) refers to the symbol of the Democratic party, a party that does in fact take advantage of the fact that they are MOST TIMES the best option for African American voters. I don't do the name calling I leave that to the Jerrys of the world. I think that you are fishing for Black racism, you want it to be a both ways thing so you can say "hey Black people are racist too." Jerry, nothing you have said has been constructive. You're more concerned with being on the defensive and upholding the great-white-way, which is why I feel that a forum like this is not the best for a discussion of racism. Why I talk about race? I usually only talk with Black people about race and again, it mostly consisit of a tacit acknowledgment of racism that does continue to exist and thrive in America, followed by some "umphs" and then we move on.
I think that there are lots of people out there like Jerry who enjoy the invisible cowardice provided by this site. I try my best to not discuss race with white people I like. Some times it can't be avoided and Im surprisingly refreshed. Most times my assumptions about white people and white racism are confirmed.

"Some of my best friends are Black and you insult them - promoting this blog without answering."
-Jean

Jean what does one have to do with the other. And these supposed best Black friends you have (congrats on that) how does this blog have any bearing on their lives. Ms. Mitchell, wonderful as she is, does not have the power to insult Black people by what she does or does not do on this blog.

It's become painfully obvious blacks make assumptions about "whitey" then teach their children to hate "whitey" because he can't be trusted. The news reports every injustice committed by whites against blacks for weeks because hey - that's a great story! Black kids beating up a white kid!? On the news for a day and the police dept. initially said they had no proof that it was a hate crime!! That is until one of the kids ADMITTED they did it because he was a "goofy looking white boy". I haven't seen a thing about that story since...why would we? That story won't get attention and have everyone up in arms. Maybe you should realize that whites know they are hated by most blacks simply because they are white and if they don't HATE whitey, they just don't care about them - period. Interesting how blacks don't want to be judged and discriminated against on the basis of color when blacks do it to whites CONSTANTLY and blacks think whites don't know this!!? It's clear that neither side is going to get anywhere because one side is already convinced the other is to blame for ANYTHING negative that happens to them. Open your eyes people! Maybe if you look in the mirror and see what incredible hypocrites you are on racism, there will be peace amongst all people.

MITCHELL COMMENT: The story about Ryan Rusch was front page news and ran nearly everyday until Rusch was released from the hospital. I'm sure when the trial starts, we will cover it--as we should.

You want whites to speak their mind on 'race' so I will. I love everybody. I am a male who loves beautiful women OF ALL COLORS. I've dated ladies OF ALL COLORS. By the way Mary, you are an attractive lady. And Mary, I'll tell you what I do NOT like. HYPOCRITES and the DOUBLE-STANDARD. An example would be somebody like Rev. Jackson accusing me of something while he talks to his pals about the 'hymies in hymie-town'. Another example is Julian Bond lashing out at folks calling them fascists and how people have to adhere there lives to show sensitivity to other groups. Yet, its ok for himself to be a Washington REDSKINS season ticketholder. A franchise which has the most derogatory and racist nickname in sports. We can't call up for information without having a english or spanish option. And everybody has to offer spanish captions. So why don't the spanish TV channels offer english captions? Hey, whats fair for the goose should be fair for the gander. Oh yeah, lets see black leaders and the media come down on trigger-happy minority officers the way they do white officers. Does Latanya Haggarty and Robert Russ ring a bell?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

I'm not sure what happened to the police officers in the Russ case, but the officers in the Haggarty case were fired.

Ok, all races have problems about talking about race. First I will have to start with White people - they're scared of being called racist, something racist may slip out in a conversation, they're scared of minories they have really never seen or been around before or just think it doesn't affect them in racism ended in the 60s (which would be lying to your self, because a country can't recover that fast and the racist people in america did not die out yet). Then too Latinos, latinos are like the whites but talk about them depends on what nationality they came from. Mexicans, well on the west coast are abit scared are try to stay away from racist talk, because they don't want a bad conversation to pop up. Otherwise for Latino - they think it will be over when people stop talking about it, think that it won't happen to them, and think that there is nothing that could be said racist about them (there's alot). Plus latinos if some does talk racist about them they won't go off as bad as my next people. YES - Blacks, black people are the reason today that racism are talk about so much, we make our own problems, we don't give money back to our people and we don't give money to Africa. Plus the problem with us and talking about racism is - we think everyone's out to get us (we over exagerate) but the police do use racial profiling on Blacks and Latinos not in the South where I am but on the west coast and I'm in Richmond, Virginia! We talk about tooooooo much (BLACK PEOPLE SHUT UP!!!) we talk about so much because we are not proud (latinos are proud) and we think everone's out to get up. Now here come the Asians - talk about, mostly black people though, but they are not as scared to talk about it and they know their limits. Next up Arabs and North Africans - they are like the latinos and asians, but they don't talk about race as much as them because they have better things to talk about, like there people back home. Indians last but not least, are like black people in this way they are racist towards each other in skin color, but they are racist against everyone that's not Indian. The root of this is seen here (it us black people, white people and the latinos are starting to come in and we need to watch Indians).

I'm white, and I talk a lot about race. When I'm not talking about it, I'm at least thinking about it in every interaction. This is because I was raised an overseas military kid and was shocked/saddened once I moved here by the way
American cities are segregated. I'm also gay, so I'm privvy to understanding what being a minority in America is like. And I'm in my early 20s, so I'm pretty much still trying to figure the world out.

This is what I've found so far:
The "white" mindset is not one where solidarity is based on race, so white-minded people don't think about race, except in ways that their subconscious is more influenced by racialized thinking. For example, a black person acting "black" is seen by a white-minded person as simply "acting black." A racially-minded person will recognize his or her own racial-mindedness. I've seen exactly this at the detox center I work at...a young black male interacting with a middle-aged white nurse: the black male says, "You treating me this way 'cuz I'm black?" and the white nurse responds: "I don't see race. And I'm offended when people say I'm racist, because I treat everyone as an individual."

In other words, most white people who treat others as "individuals" do so as a matter of propriety. So the white members of the race-discussion audience were probably used to being "polite"...and part of being polite requires them to be informed, which is why they were there to begin with.

Most racially-minded people who treat others as "individuals" do so because they're consciously transcending race in hopes that everyone else will catch on. "Just be different," is the idea, "don't insist upon it." (which is the gist of what one of my black female co-workers said to the black male youth.)

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Thanks, Alan. Given the tone of most of the posts I have to read, yours was incredibly refreshing.

Hi, this is not flaming or arguing, i've read lots of posts and i hope i am not repeating something previously said. I live in Detroit, MI and after the Tragedy in NO the poorest city in the nation. Also the most segregated (even more so than Chicago) From Jefferson - 8mile road, from Hoover- Telegraph road you are allowed to be black and/or poor, outside of that area you are NOT ALLOWED. If i go north of 8mile road i WILL be pulled over and if my record is not immaculate i will be put in jail. I was working north of 8mile at UPS and in a short week (my 3rd week working their) i was pulled over 5x for things as minor as obstruction of view (insence tree) to blaring music (it was low enough to talk over i was accompanies by my co-worker) After those 5 offences i was quickly arrested and spent 6months in jail as a habitual offender and was banned from getting my licence back for roughly 5 years. I am posting the information above because i know live in a suburb of detroit where i get harrassed exponentially. I'd like all whites to understand the turmoil of the sterotype jokingly or not. since i have been out here i have only met 1 white person who has NOT made some sort of racial slur, be it mild or severe. Teaching your children is one way, but their is another way to fix this problem. People do point people out for their race, if you find yourself doing so immediatly clear up your statement. The reason is as i have noticed, a joke such as, "All blacks are criminals" after watching the news is understandable in a way. But for every person who hears this will pick a side. Be it friend or family memeber they will agree because by disagreeing they become less of a friend or trust you less because of your beleifs. For those that disbeleive no harm is done. But those people who accept you or yourstatement, they DO NOT KNOW YOUR FULL INTENTION. if you said it because your repeating something you heard on TV, or a quote from a magazine, they cannot hear intent, only the statement. thus adopting the same concept, and breeding more hate. I love all people, and i cry because it hurts to be hated and picked on for nothing more than my skin color. Even harder is explaining it because like it was posted earlier the cluster will win by numbers. so when speaking to 5 white people and i ask them to stop and understand those statements are racist or cruel, i am greeted with the "I'm only joking" and "quit being so serious". If i were to say a false statement about their children they would be upset yet it's ok to say something about myself and my entire race. I know you all dont feel that way aobut blacks or latinos, but when talking to other white friends please take care that others dont know your intention, so the black joke by the water cooler, the other 4 people just as easily beleive you hate blacks even if you say you do not. think of this for help :)

Dear Mary I appreciate the article that you wrote telling black men its time for them to act like men and to get married. One of the toughest dicisions I had to make when my children were just 6 & 7 years of age was to end the seven year relationship I had with their father. I was 22 at the time and he was 37. I was always told by him that he wanted to get married for the second time but needed to make sure that the women that he chose want to have children unlike the his previous wife. Well to make a long story short, all I got were promises. The engagement ring that he bought me and the many times we went to city hall go obtain a marriage certificate was all just to buy him time and to reframe my thinking. After 7 years I knew that I had to end the relationship because it was never going to go any futher. Although my children are just fine, now 15 and 16 I know that they would be better off if they had been raised in a (2)two parent family. But as my mother would say; "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free". To the women of today. We have to do our part in making sure that we send a message to our black men that we are not settling for just living together anymore. One thing we can do as black women, to start, is don't have babies before marriage. Demand a committed relationship, and let your word be your bond.

Thank you again

Lovely, I must say, there is not so much themes, which deserve a comment. T

Hi mary
I listen to you every sunday,this is just a line to let you know whats happening on the west side of chicago. the police are picking up black men walking down the street and taking them to county jail and charging them with drug possesion whith out reading them their rights-case in point Lamar Calhoun was picking his daughter up from school the police called him to their car he went over to see what they wanted and they handcuffed him infront of his child and put him into their car no rights were read ,he sits in county jail as we speak-if this sounds far fetched to youcheck the camara on flourney and kedzie and see for your self and also talke to some of the people over there and they will tell you that this young man does nothing but look out for his kids,he takes them to school and picks them up ,why is there no outcry about this ?because the people are in fear of the police please just go talk to this young man and get his side we as a people have no where to turn except to reporters like you when we are poor and cannot afford a lawyer like art kelly can so we sit in places like county jail until they decide to let us out .yes the gangs are doing all sorts of eval but every body black is not,it is openseason on all black men in chicago by the gangs and the police
Thank you

I am an RN in my late 30's that happens to be WHITE. I live in a mixed neighborhood. I came upon this site by chance. I grew up in Chicago in an all white neighborhood and went to school with other whites. Race is hard to talk about because my family was and is very predjudice. The derogitory words were used in my house by my parents. I always had a difficult time defending black people--because I was told to move to the south. So when you are raised like that of course there is issues with race. I have grown up and married a hispanic man. I chose to be a nurse to help people. My patients are black, white, hispanic, polish, german, and any race possible. I would never treat anyone different based on their race, or social economic status. Everyone has to get past the color of someones skin. My heart aches for the Blacks that were mistreated or the Jewish. This is not the past--can't we just live in the present and look forward to the future!!! GOD BLESS US ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

White people don't talk about race because of fear. Fear that you might take it the wrong way and label them racist.

The main reason why white people do not talk about race is because they are not interested in other races. The few Chinese people that I know are usually only interested in their own race or culture. The only race that is constantly talking or is obsessed with race are the black people. i do not
know why. The white race is satisfied with their race, as are the Asians, Indians, chinese, etc. It is only the black race that is constantly talking about the "white man this, the White man that. People by nature are tribal, we feel more comfortable with our own race. That does not mean that we are prejudiced. Chinese prefer being with chinese, indians prefer being with Indians, etc. That does not mean that they dislike other races, it just means that they feel more comfortable with their own culture/race. That is Human Nature.

It seems to me that the American Black person is always up the White man's butt. Leave the white man alone, you should be more interested in your own race.

Thank you.

Why Black People Want White People To Talk About Race?

By Chief Elder Osiris
email add: O_akkebala2002@yahoo.com

So tell me, why is it that Black People want white people to talk about Race before Race can be a respectful Issue worthy to be discussed?

It really is not about Race that need to be discussed, race is a natural phenomena, it is about what cause Racism to be an act of behavior, and because of Racism, Race become the prime focal point of discussion for Black People and others who resemble us Black so call Afrikans.

There is no Mystery why white people do not care to participate with Race as being a social issue in need to be discussed, white people have had no need to associate with being the victim of Racism, or having had been abused because of the simple fact of the pigment of their body.

So when Race is being discussed, or shall I say Racism attributes, which are Prejudice and Discrimination, which when practice cause social injustice and those social derogatory practices hinges upon Race and the Race that has been the target for such social segregation practices, happen to be against Black People primarily, and those others who have an association that is obvious regarding their pigment.

Black people have been so socially redesigned to the point that we look at Race as being not worthy of discussion among ourselves but we have a want for white people to be involved in such a discussion about an issue that white people are the cause for being an issue.

Race need to be first approached for discussion by Black people, because Black people Mind has been so traumatized to the point of Race, until we have no definitive subjective knowledge about Race, even when we Black people are the Prime victims that has caused Race to become a social issue, one that is embedded in every aspect of the Social, Education, Economic, and Religious stratum in a society where Black people reside in the minority, and has become an issue even where Black people are in the majority in a governing structure.

White people are not obligated to discuss Race, they have no contributing knowledge worth while to contribute in a Race discussion, so for white people to discuss Race they can only do so in a self condemning way and most white people are not ready for that, because they can not relate as to why they should, they have no experience of Racism, Prejudice, Discrimination, and acts of injustice against them, because of the pigment of their skin.

The solution to Racism concerning the issue of Race, has to come from the victims of Racism, because of our Race, but Black people have been socially indoctrinated to believe that all things worthy of value to Black people must first be signed off by white people, in order to give it some legitimacy, when Race is the Prime issue under discussion.

Who is it always talking about the want to integrate and to assimilate with white people, and why is that the case for Black people always wanting, not needing, to be in close proximity with white people, is not such a spirit based upon Race, but not in a Racist way, but still hold to be an indication of how Racial victimized Black people are, even unto ourselves, to give off such a Racial inferiority complex in comparison to white people?

Black people have every Right, we have an obligation to talk about Race, but among ourselves first and foremost, because we have so many Black people who have been mentally conditioned to believe that Race should not and does not matter, an indication of how Black people have been made to lose contact with ourselves, in order to allow somebody other than ourselves to place importance or not importance, upon Race.

There is nothing wrong with the separation of the Races, what is wrong is the segregation of the Races, because with separation there is the expression of freedom of choice by our will, but with segregation, such is the prevention of Race interaction and freedom of movement and accommodation by Law, and therein lies the culprit of evil in segregation, and not separation of the Races.

White people chose to target Black people for abuse of all and every kind that associated with demeaning and declining the Black Race.

So there is no wonder,or shall I share with you that there should not be a wonder why it is that white people are hesitant and reluctant to talk about Race, because it is too self condemning to most white people, and why should Black people have a desire for white people to talk about all of the evil done by white people against Black people and they having justification to do so, because of the fact of our Race, which in white people eyes we are Black and inferior to White people.

The entire reconciliation technique is to exonerate white people for their Racial action against Black people, asking Black people to reconcile with those who acted evil against us, because of Race difference.

Here again is the victim taking on to be the perpetrator of a crime that has been committed against the victim, which when the evil is Racism, it happen to be against Black people.

So tell me, when will Black People grow back into our original Mind, because only then will we be able to see that the greatest act of Racism that is still being practice against Black people, because of our Race, is done by white people still, and the evidence is the fact that our Enslaved Ancestors are still being denied their Reparation for all the work and abuse caused by white people against Black people, and that is a act against Black people that is not worthy to forget or to allow to go undone and white people must be held accountable for such a debt owed to our Enslaved Ancestors, and you wonder why white people are reluctant to talk about Race?

It is not just white people who are reluctant to talk about Race, you have many Black people that fall into that category as well.

So you see, Race is an issue that first need to be discussed by Black People but not until we make an effort to get our original Mind back, which will allow us to know and reason rationally about all of the things that have been caused to have a injuring effect upon the lives of Black people, all because of our Race, and we have been made to feel guilty about the fact of our pigment, and now want white people to bless us Black people by talking about Race, they being the people that now have Race to be an issue in the world today.

Without the consent to pay to our Enslaved Ancestors their Reparation and the acknowledgment of our Right of Return to Afrika as the next established state in Afrika, white people have nothing worthy to say about Race to me that is worthy to be listen to, coming from white people!!!

Be Kind To Your Self, Beloved

Hoteph
Osiris
Chief Elder

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on July 25, 2006 5:07 PM.

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