Recently C-SPAN hosted Heather McGhee, President of Demos, a public policy organization promoting democratic values and diversity across the United States. At one point during the program, a white man, who described himself as being prejudiced, called in to ask for Mrs. McGhee’s advice for how to be less prejudiced and less fearful (of other ethnicities, cultures etc). Besides the fact that it was admirable for the caller to be so open about a topic that we humans have always struggled with – being fearful of things we don’t know or understand, and how to remedy that with an open heart and will – Mrs. McGhee’s response was compassionate, authentic and fully what we all need to hear. The three main points were:
- All races and ethnicities hold fears and prejudices and that most of them are unconscious
- To get over our prejudices, we have to acknowledge that they exist and commit to changing them
- The fear of communities that we do not live near fosters misunderstanding and makes you more open to manipulation by media (and the general control structure that has a deeply vested interest to keep things exactly as they are).
After acknowledging the above three points, Mrs. McGhee offers practical solutions which are not only common sense, but brilliantly necessary to hear. What would these common sense yet brilliant solutions be? They are as follows:
- Get to know black families and you will see that the vast majority are not involved in crime and gangs.
- Turn off the news at night, because we know that nightly news over-represents black American crime and under-represents crimes that are perpetrated by white people.
- Join a black or interracial church.
- Start to read about black history in the US and what that has actually looked and felt like over the centuries
- Foster conversations among your families and your neighborhoods where you ask these kinds of questions
Our Times fully supports the need to courageously reach out to, and get to know better, every day black Americans personally, lest we continue to be heavily influenced by the media and carnival barker politics that plays on our worst fears, or our own preprogrammed understandings of what we think we know of black Americans based on what we’ve seen in continuously reinforced pop culture, which keeps us perpetually in a low intellect bubble. The only way to break free of that bubble is to step out of your comfort zone, and into an area of authentic learning about that which we’ve been fed a continuously false narrative for generations. This may be incredibly hard to do based on the the deep-seeded fears we have been conditioned to take seriously based on the narrative we are told on multiple levels, in the most insidious of ways possible, throughout time. However, if we can make it to this point – liaising with people we’ve been taught to fear or be suspect of, and keep a raw sense innocence in our quest for learning about them – we will soon start to see through a narrative that has been fed and reinforced for far too long.
Now, let’s take this even further than Mrs. McGhee discusses in her interview. Let’s consider also reaching out to Muslims in the same way as the prescribed method above. Let’s actually go to their mosques, ask questions about their faith and how they identify is Americans (in the US) or simply as good people in general based on their faith. Let’s ask Muslims in turn to seek out LGBTQ groups to gain a better understanding about what it’s like to walk in their shoes in a world where many in the global Muslim community (and black American community as well) are still incredibly bigoted and hateful (and violent) against LGBTQ people. Let’s continue to reach out with that child like innocence, by simply being curious, and open to learning from a purely objectivity standpoint, and get to know Latinos, Jews, Asians, Communists, Socialists, Republicans, Democratic, Iranians, Iraqis, Saudis, Chinese, Russians, Afghanis, Germans, Norwegians, South Sudanese, Ethiopian, poor, middle class, rich, uber-rich and any human being under the sun, and really try to walk a mile in their shoes, and humbly submit that your own shoes are every bit as beautiful and precious as theirs.
If you watch this video, and legitimately seek out authentic, interactive experiences with ethnicities, races, religious groups, countries, cultures, men, women, children-who-are-precious-in-the-eyes-of-parents-the-world-over, then we will have a complete story, a complete guidebook, for how to move forward in consciously, conscientiously and determinedly eradicating prejudice every bit as we have done polio, small pox etc. This is exactly the purpose and drive of not only Heather McGhee, or Our Times, it is the spiritual raison d’ etre of countless other rational people and organizations around the world. Be comfortable and empowered with that knowledge in moving forward with the recommendations that Mrs. McGhee gives in her interview. Now, enjoy it in its entirety, below.