This study provides a nice reminder that our mind jumps to images we see in the news, or, it might have stated, in the movies. Images, or as social scientists have said for too long, “stereotypes”, get in the way of listening to people, hearing their stories or digesting data that help us make sound public policy through our elected leaders.
Complexity in American life is best experienced not from watching the news but from traveling the country and meeting people different from one’s self. We all are a bit afraid of what is strange or different. Meeting people, at a breakfast bar in a diner (or, as one says in Detroit, a “Coney Island”), in a hospital waiting room, at the zoo, at a place of worship, at a bowling alley, in a different part of town, is to meet your fellow Americans, from, as they used to say, “all walks of life.”
If you have more money than most, then you tend to live in a place, shop in a place, dine in a place where others with money go. If you have more education than most, then your tastes also tend to bring you to similar living, dining, shopping and vacation choices. Get out of your comfort zone a bit. See the next town over. Meet some folks.
But as much as money and education divide us, race does so as well. This giant gap gets in the way of understanding each other. This gap seems on its face so superficial, but it plays a huge role in our society, in our history, and surprisingly to most whites (including me as a young man), in our daily life experiences. We all need to reach across the gap, and learn to understand each other.
If you hope to understand the life of those who are different from you but share your country, you should just meet them and listen to them. Get out of your comfort zone. Go to a new place for breakfast where the folks look different. Chat with someone new.
If you don’t meet new folks who are different, all you will do is express your opinion about how others should live and not listen to how they think you should live. Welcome to modern American political life.
We can do better. But it starts by meeting and listening.
Click here to read The Washington Post Article. News media offers consistently warped portrayls of black families study finds by Tracy Jan, December 13, 2017.