A Dishonest Conversation About Race in America

From the never-to -be- released: A Dishonest Conversation About Race: An introduction to white blindness, racism by default and the vocabulary of bias in American society by F.J. Sharp   


Original ISBNS:

ISBN-13: 978-1979905695

ISBN-10: 197990569X

In the aftermath of the August 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia white supremacist terror attack—and again now in 2020—you heard more and more variations of the phrase “...this country needs to have an honest conversation about race...”

Yes, people are always saying this as if the conversation itself is the end that is sought; as if, somehow, simply by having this long-overdue conversation about race, something magical will happen, and all the wrongs of society will be righted. I started writing this book at that time because whenever I hear that phrase (“an honest conversation about race”), I'm constantly reminded that Americans are woefully ill-equipped for actually having such a conversation.

Since its inception as a nation, the United States of America has been having quite a dishonest conversation about race. Starting with the genocide of native American peoples, slavery and segregation of Blacks, Japanese internment camps, etc., white Americans' perceptions of and conversations about themselves in relation to other races are based on untruths, layered with obfuscation, corrupted by capitalism, tainted with nationalism and fueled by an underlying fear, all with the goal of perpetuating the original power structure.

This self-perpetuating, duplicitous conversation plays out in media, movies, news coverage, the justice system, education, health care, religion and most aspects of modern life in the form of "white blindness," "default-setting racism," and "whitemale-ing,” Consequently, conversations about race become exercises in futility: the vocabulary is imprecise, the power dynamic is skewed, and the motivations and agendas of the participants are at polar extremes.

The majority of "honest conversations" about race attempted by pundits, politicians, preachers, pollsters, parents and presidents, use deceptive language, employ guilt-absolving grammar and sentence structure, ignore the facts, overlook the obvious, obfuscate reality, whitewash history, defend the status quo, excuse the villains, blame the victims, draw false equivalencies, ask the wrong questions (questions we've already answered), and are usually moderated and reported on by people in an overprivileged group who either suffer from white blindness and therefore lack empathy or have no vested interest in confronting the truth of their role in or advantage derived from the perpetuation of the issue they purport to wish resolved.

Consequently, people are engaging in dishonest conversations about race that have had the predictable effect of being ineffective at best and compounding the issue at worst when it comes to making any real and lasting improvements in the lives of those affected by white America's racially-motivated fear, discrimination and violence directed against individuals and communities of color.

An honest conversation requires that participants be on the same page of awareness about the contributing issues and the present-day reality of the issue. The conversation must have a goal. There must be a set of guidelines as well as an agreed-upon vocabulary for this conversation. This conversation can't be a debate. Some things are actually beyond debate and must be seen as such if true progress is to be made in honest conversation.

A Dishonest Conversation About Race attempts to provide this. Or, at least, it was intended to.

[From the Editor:] That's right. The process of researching the reality that forms the basis of this book was so spiritually damaging, that the author has decided NOT to complete it in its original form. Instead, there will be a series of 52 Conversation Memos released on Youtube. View now