Clarity, Comfort and Race in America
Written by Elizabeth Lueng
September 7, 2012
I recently went to see my eye doctor, and told him that my prescription glasses don’t seem to let me see afar clearly, while at the same time, they allow me to read comfortably for hours on end. To my surprise, for what I thought would be a simple visit with a simple question, it actually launched him into a philosophical rumination on whether clarity and comfort can co-exist!
In a recent blog, Race and the 2012 election, Ezra Klein of The Washington Post wrote about how the hope of Obama’s election in 2008 did not change into a more mature attitude towards race in the past four years. He quoted a study on how racial resentment had influenced voter opinions about the nomination of Supreme Court Justice, health-care reform, and even the president’s dog. (See also Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay in The Atlantic on President Obama and race.)
Race may be an illusion for some, but racism is a reality for many. So it seems responsible to examine how many election issues intersect with race, whether they are voting rights, unemployment, federal budget, health care, education, immigration etc. To help with this, I was watching a YouTube video on how to popularize racial justice. I learned that it might be more constructive to ask the question “what is the impact on racial in/equity,” than to focus on which opinion is racist. In the end, racial equity benefits all.
In the polarized atmosphere of the election season, I don’t know if clarity and comfort can co-exist, but it is crucial to strive for civil conversations for the common good.