Hey, Let's Grab a Beer...
You don't always need a crisis to talk about race relations in this country.
Sometimes, gathering some folks and downing a couple of cold ones will do the job.
ABOVE PHOTO: Columbia University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, Todd Bernstein, president of Global Citizen, and Kay Kyungsun Yu, chairperson of Philadelphia's Commission on Human Rights deliver opening remarks at Global Citizen's 4th Annual Beer Summit, held at the Reading Terminal Market. The summit, modeled after a meeting held at the White House after an incident between Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates and a Cambridge, Mass. police officer, brings people together to discuss issues of race in a less pressurized way.
(Photo: Denise Clay)
By Denise Clay
When President Barack Obama became the first person of color to hold the title "Most Powerful Man In the World", a lot of folks thought that this meant that we as a nation would never have to discuss one thing ever again:
For many of us, President Obama was supposed to signal the beginning of a post-racial America where our colorific differences didn't matter.
Four years later, are we there yet?
According to Columbia University Professor and Philadelphia Daily News columnist Marc Lamont Hill, we're not...and we probably shouldn't aspire to be. To believe that electing one guy to the nation's highest office would wipe away 400 years worth of racial issues is a bit naïve, Hill said, especially when things like the Birther Movement, The Tea Party, and other events remind us every day that this isn't the case, Hill said.
"We live in a country where even mentioning race can get you in trouble," he said. "If we can't even talk about it, we have a problem. I don't even want to live in post-racial society. There's nothing racist about identifying race. I want us to have a post-racist society, not a post-racial society."
Hill was the moderator of Global Citizen's fourth annual Beer Summit at the Reading Terminal Market. The summit is the organization's take on the discussion that ensued between President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and Cambridge Police Office James Crowley and Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates at the White House when Crowley arrested Gates as the latter tried to get into his home....and the President commented on it...
While the black and white paradigm informed much of the discussion, it wasn't stuck there. That the American crayon box has expanded to include Latinos, Asians and people from other cultures was something that was touched upon during the discussion.
Among the things that were touched on were the part that white supremacy plays in the continued state of race relations, black on black crime, the dichotomy between the suburbs and the cities when it comes to such things as resources, schools and other things.
But in a country where unemployment rates are high, and are often used by hate groups as a form of recruitment, how race and the economy intersect is an important topic.
While people of color and poor and working class whites have something in common when it comes to the pain each feels from a troubled economy, race and in many cases the implication of white privilege, keeps these groups from coming together, Hill said.
"We have to see the humanity in each other," he said.
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