Kenneth L. Hardin: I’m tired of having the race discussion

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 1, 2022

I’m confused. Torn. Conflicted. A recent conversation has left me so perplexed that I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, clutching my covers, holding my knees to my chest, and rocking back and forth trying to find meaning and understanding. I was asked recently if I ever write about anything other than racism and Black stuff. Huh, wait, what does that mean? I said yes I do, but I’ll stop altogether when racism ends, and there’s no longer a need to worry about Black stuff. I was also told I should write about happier topics and “leave that race stuff alone.” I’m sorry your hate and my having to endure it makes you feel uncomfortable when I articulate it.

I used to echo the familiar refrain that education and increased interactions between Blacks and whites was the solution to ending racism. I don’t sing that song anymore because I don’t like the melody. For this to be an effective solution, the correct education must be taught both in the classroom and at home. It’s failing before we even start because there’s so much fear in even discussing the critical theoretical framework by which structural and institutional racism could be examined. In the classroom, the curriculum must be changed to reflect the accomplishments and contributions of people from all ethnic groups and not just for 28 days once a year. If our children are taught about cultures other than their own, more than Dr. King’s Dream Speech, about this country’s sketchy past, and that people of every skin color hue has contributed to the growth of this nation; there would be more respect for other cultures and less racial animus. Think of the psychological damage done to a Black child, who through all his formal years of education, is indoctrinated with the thought that his culture has produced nothing significant for this country. On the other hand, the white child has received the opposite, but then is told to receive people of color as his equal. American history should be less of a His-Story-Mystery and reflect the failures, successes, negatives and positives of every group.

We must stop the pointless empty symbolic acts that yield nothing and show no measurable outcomes. A few years ago, the Brother Man and the Other Man criticized me because I refused to participate in the theatrics of praying at a tree where three Blacks, who were wrongly accused of a murder, were lynched back in 1906. I was vocal about the pointless idiocy of this feel-good nonsense when we had current divisive issues like escalating crime, gun violence, gang infestation, poverty, lack of job opportunities, public opioid overdoses, educational disparities and discriminatory impediments to fair housing that still haven’t improved. But those were all ignored so people could feel good but accomplish nothing for a few hours. After the praying,
singing and swaying was
done, they all got back in their segregated cars and went back home to their segregated communities until the next time a racial performance was needed. Don’t invite me to the table of fellowship and brotherhood when it’s convenient or necessary for political or social gain, but then relegate me to the children’s table and patronizingly pat me on the head. It’s great we have zero tolerance in our professional settings, but it’s pointless if the remainder of our existence — the social, religious, economic, educational and housing related areas bear no resemblance to our jobs.

Although I may come down heavily on calling out the scourge of hate, there’s not a semblance of it that resides within my body for any other person. I get so tired of people coming at me with racially coded verbal jabs and then take offense when I practice oratorical defensive karate to defend myself. Every day I’m reminded by someone more melanin challenged that my skin hue is less palatable than theirs. I’m so weary of having to wade through the sea of idiocy of insecurity from those less developed. I’ve endured receiving emails littered with racial epithets, death threats born from hate, had my cars damaged in my driveway and been an unwitting participant in myriad ridiculous and racially insensitive conversations when I’m out. Yet, when I’ve met that disrespect with an equal amount, I’m perceived as the Black boogeyman by some prominent people in this sleepy little burg.

I’m so weary of the race conversation. I wish people would stop approaching me about it to assuage personal guilt or to clear their conscience. That’s not my cross to bear. I would love to experience the America I see on my TV and live the life free from what people are tired of me opining about. Until then, I’m going to keep writing and talking about Black stuff.

Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.