King, M.L. (1967). The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement.
While reading the essay by Martin Luther King, Jr., a specific part truly stuck out to me. In regard to discussing racism he stated, “These are often difficult things to say but I have come to see more and more that it is necessary to utter the truth in order to deal with the great problems that we face in our society.”
As one of the first things discussed in our class, we realize how important it is to talk about issues, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Problems in our society will not be solved if they are not pointed out and talked about. As we know, many people are unaware that racism still exists. It is, however, very prevalent in our society. It is our responsibility to make people aware of racism today. If we do not, we cannot expect people to change their ways. Consider, for example, sharing a room with an individual who never takes out the garbage. As frustrating as this may be, its unrealistic to expect change without confrontation. The roommate may not have even thought about the fact that the garbage must be taken out. Though a confrontation about cleanliness and one about racism are very different, the fact remains that talking is vital.
The problem remains as to how to approach this confrontation. Because it’s uncomfortable, my personal opinion would be to start small. When someone makes a racist joke, don’t laugh. If a friend of yours makes a racist comment, let them know that it’s offensive to you. Hopefully, it will spark a conversation about racism, giving you the opportunity to share what you know and pass along knowledge. The most common response I get is, “No one else can hear, so it’s not hurting anybody.” It’s vital to point out how incorrect this can be. A little joke can go a long way, as it adds fuel to the fire. It supports negative stereotypes and widens the gap between the races.
As hard as it may be, speak up! Let people know how serious the problem is and how it affects our daily life. Racism is still relevant today and everyone needs to know about it, or we can’t expect change.