You can try to be woke and still screw up when it comes to racism. That’s no excuse for not trying.

It’s not easy being anti-racist:

Schultz, whose company has been known for its inclusion and political correctness (to the point of occasional controversy), has received praise in the past for speaking out against racism. After the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, when President Trump blamed “both sides” for violence, Schultz said that elected officials were not using “their voice with due force and eloquence to elevate the ideal of equality.”

But the Philadelphia incident raises questions about how deeply Schultz’s sensitivity on racial discrimination seeped into the company.

Conservatives, of course, are gleeful:

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Let’s first of all say this: If Chris Stigall is defending you, you probably need to deeply examine whatever it is in your life he finds praiseworthy.

That said: You can try desperately to be woke and still find yourself screw up on matters of race. It’s not because black people are trying to trick you into screwing up — it’s an odd trap that would leave the trappers arrested by police simply for being in a coffee shop — but because it’s easy not to see one’s own blind spots when it comes to race.

I’ve written in these parts about my own experience realizing I’d screwed up a racial issue. I don’t need to revisit it again here: It was that painful. But my own experience came after years of writing about white privilege, of trying to be an advocate for racial justice. And I still fucked up.

That’s not an excuse.

To listen to the Stigalls of the world, one might assume white people are owed credit for not being racist. But, as my wife says in a different context, you don’t get a cookie for doing what you should do. The fact that you take a beating when you – or your employees – do a racist thing is not proof of the unfairness of anti-racism.

You work against racism because it’s the right thing to do. And you do it humbly, knowing those blind spots might bite you despite your best efforts. And when somebody stumbles on the journey, well: Best to point it out, try to see that justice is done, then welcome them to continue on the journey.

It’s not easy. But it’s better, wiser, than turning our backs.

 

Author: joeldermole

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son. He spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His honors include awards for best online commentary from the Online News Association and (twice) from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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