Friday, January 6, 2017

- A Thought Experiment

Have a look at the expression on the face of Tesfaye Cooper, bottom right. Now instead of Tesfaye Cooper looking at you that way, imagine it was me, a middle aged, six foot two, 185 pound white man. Lean, hard, and vigorous looking, but not unlike most of the white men in America. Imagine I looked at you across a boardroom table like that. Imagine it was across a bar, or a sales meeting, or from the other side of coach seating on a flight to Chicago. What would you think of it?

Now suppose a man with an expression like that one but looks like me, was walking toward you late at night on a dark urban street. Imagine I was dressed for the gym or something so my more conservative or expensive clothes give me no cultural advantage. How afraid would you be? would you imagine that I was angry at you for some irrational reason or would you think I was probably angry at my girlfriend or someone who I just left? Would you think I represent enough of a risk to you that you would go to the trouble of crossing the street to avoid me?

Now imagine Tesfaye in the same clothes and circumstances, walking toward you instead of me.

None of this is about skin color. None of this is about systemic racism, or a legacy of slavery or unconscious bias. This is all about behavior. It's about a group of men, a small group all told, who behave like animals toward themselves and others. It's about the monsters we've created by shattering the black family, and slathering them with decades of resentment fostered by a willing media.

Behavior can be changed, and we owe it to them and to ourselves to change it. But first, we have to stop pretending it's something other than exactly what it is, and quit mixing up the cause of our rational concerns. It's not racism to be afraid of Tesfaye Cooper, or any of his like minded brethren. It's rational self preservation.

No comments: