Black and Blue

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The wounds of the past week are deep and raw.  I grew up just outside of Baton Rouge and graduated high school 10 minutes from where Alton Sterling was killed last Tuesday.  I’ve grieved for this complicated place of my childhood as I’ve witnessed its turmoil through the eyes of friends and family still there.  One friend posted a photo of her children and their cousins beside the mural of Sterling, saying that children, especially black children like hers, could not be sheltered from the realities of the world.  Another friend shared how her daughter ran down the hallway as her father, a white police officer, prepared to leave for work, fearful and begging him not to go.

The anguish is real for so many, in Baton Rouge, in Falcon Heights, in Dallas, and across the country.  The fear is warranted.  The anger is valid.

But this is not a post about feelings, least of all mine.  This is a post about choice. Continue reading

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You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught: Unlearning Apathy in a Racist World

 

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Photo credit: Ed Everett

The U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union last week stunned many, and pundits immediately began drawing parallels between the messages of isolationism and fear that fueled the Leave campaign and the hateful rhetoric that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has spewed throughout his own stunning political rise.

One of the most interesting parallels to me was the stark difference among voters by age.  U.K. voters under 24 voted overwhelmingly to remain in the E.U. (75 percent), and each subsequent age group inched closer into Leave territory, with those over 65 strongly in favor of separation from the E.U. (61 percent).  These results are strikingly similar to recent polls on attitudes about Trump by age group, with his strongest support among those over 65 (51 percent) and his weakest among those under 34 (23 percent).

This may paint a rosy picture of a more accepting, empathetic and open-minded future.  But it’s not all campfires and kumbaya.  Another very clear age distinction emerges when you consider “Brexit” voter turnout patterns.  More than 80 percent of people over 65 weighed in on the question of separation at the polls.  Among the youngest group of voters?  Only 36 percent cast ballots.

Isolationism and fear helped propel an unlikely proposition into a new reality, and it’s easy to cry racism.  But we also must acknowledge that apathy and privilege can twist isolationism and fear to much the same end. Continue reading