One of the most interesting and reflective quotes I’ve read in some time about race is as follows: “Prejudice is how you feel, discrimination is how you act. I care how you act!” To paraphrase, prejudices are inherent in all of us on some level. We’ve all felt nervous or jaded about something or someone because of how different they may be from us. It doesn’t have to be race. It could be hair combing, or food chewing, or even breathing. It’s part of the human condition. The trick is how most of us respond to these human differences– and how the corresponding actions affect others.
The whole Harry Reid saga is a perfect example of this idea. While I don’t know Senator Reid personally, I don’t believe him to be a racist. Why? You have to examine the man’s actions. What is his track record on race, and race relations and reconciliation? How often has he made these types of comments in the past? Reid’s past shows no record of malicious racial insensitivity. His work and actions have not veritably affected black Americans in a negative manner. In fact, Reid’s civil rights record has been excellent during his political career. So I give him a pass.
Does this mean Reid’s comments about Barack Obama’s skin color and lack of a “Negro dialect, “weren’t stupid? Hell no! They were moronic and borderline juvenile. I don’t think they were racist. I think they were borne from prejudices we all share. They were remarks made from a lack of understanding and ignorance I would advise Mr. Reid to learn more about some of the people he represents. I’m not quite sure what a “negro dialect” is, but I can assure you that I, and millions of others like me, don’t speak it.
This can be Reid’s teachable moment. If the senator pays attention, he can take this and use it as a gift. Any gifts you receive should make you a better person, and one less prone to letting your prejudices affect your judgment.