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You have an opinion, but do you have what it takes to be heard?

Lauren Hogan
Washington, DC

Lauren Hogan

My resume suggests that I'm black. I’m not. But I’m not afraid to talk about race, either.

Talking about race

Editor's note: The contestants could blog on a topic of their choice this afternoon. You can read Lauren Hogan's morning post here.

People have been asking me about my (edited) bio blurb. Here's the background: my career has taken me through two primarily black-serving organizations; before meeting me, people often assume, particularly from my current position, that I am also black. 

It's a reasonable assumption - I am the only white person at the organization where I work, an experience for which I am profoundly grateful. 

I've experienced CP time, been schooled in what it means to be a Delta, and I've learned that black people talk about race and culture all the time.  They joke about race with their friends.  They worry about how race will affect their children - especially their sons.  Our national dialogue on race is dominated by black men, from President Obama to Jesse Jackson to Bob Herbert and Eugene Robinson.

White people, not so much.  In a study of 17,000 families, 75 percent of white families never or almost never talk about race. Those who do talk about race often say that we should stop talking about it entirely - i.e., Let's all be colorblind!  I'd like to see a poll on how many black people believe that we should - or could - live in a colorblind society.  I bet it's limited to Stevie Wonder. 

Dr. King asked us not to judge people on the color of their skin; he didn't ask us not to notice it.  White people are afraid that it's seen as the same thing.  So we lower our voices and look around us when we're talking about that tall girl, you know, with the red sweater, you know (pause) she's black? We're afraid of saying the wrong thing, of being called racist, of ending up like Sharron Angle, or, for that matter, Harry Reid.  

But it's not fair that every time a question is asked about English language learners, the person asking it is Latino.  It's not right that when slavery comes up in class, everyone looks around to the black kid.  It's time that we stopped allowing the burden of talking openly about race to fall on people of color and leaned over to help shoulder the load - even if we are a little scared.

Read more posts from this round. See what the judges think. And cast your vote on Friday.

 

By Lauren Hogan  |  October 20, 2010; 3:58 PM ET  | Category:  Blogging Challenge
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Comments

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Jackryan82,

This is a disgrace! I demand that you resign from this internet comment board immediately!

(Psst...I hear John Breaux is hiring).

Posted by: waltersobchak2 | October 21, 2010 11:40 AM
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Dear James Boobson:

If you'd entered this contest, we wouldn't have had all of these problems over the years, either.

Sincerely,

JackRyan82

Posted by: JackRyan82 | October 21, 2010 11:37 AM
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Wow.

Trent Lott called.

he wants his column back.

Posted by: JamesBoobson | October 21, 2010 11:34 AM
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I'm confused, do people think you can tackle all the topics, issues, etc around this intricate topic in one post? I was able to read your full bio at the beginning of this contest which is a benefit to me in that I completely get your tag line and therefore, where you were going with this follow up post. The blog is a start of what can be a larger discussion and I think you've done that here, made people think about this topic in a different light.

Posted by: stargazer4 | October 21, 2010 11:20 AM
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Well said on this touchy subject. When we can't even talk about it we can't fix it. We need more columns like this. Great Pundit stuff!!!!!!

Posted by: chucky-el | October 20, 2010 8:33 PM
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I agree. This is your best post yet.

But what people--including myself--are reacting to so strongly in your bio is the air that you, uniquely, among White people (yes, I know when you should capitalize it ... ) are "not afraid to talk about" race. And your assumption that we all assume that you're black based on your occupation is ... odd, to say the least, since I don't know what your occupation is.

I concur with the other commenter that you need to really grapple with race in Obama's America, not Dr. King's. In my life, I've observed the impact of changing demographics on discussions of diversity. It makes a difference whether the groups living together are white:black, black:Jewish, white:Asian, or black:Hispanic--or any other combination that gets thrown up in today's United States, like black:African (a combination I'm told can be surprisingly fractious).

One of the many consequences of shifting demographic patterns is that Protestant Christianity can no longer be assumed to be the cement of American society, an assumption that undergirded Dr. King's tactics.

I'm not black, and nobody has ever thought I was. But I do know that Asians talk about race, that Hispanics and Latinos (the label can't be assumed!) do as well, and that intra- and interracial tensions exist beyond the black-white dimenion.

In sum, thanks for an honest discussion about your background. But I wish we could move the conversation to at least the level of sophistication displayed on, say, a first-season episode of Gilmore Girls.

Posted by: JackRyan82 | October 20, 2010 7:49 PM
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Glad to see that you finally addressed this topic, Lauren. This is probably the best post I've seen from you so far. I really liked that you pointed out one of the most insidious (even if not the most directly harmful) effects of the way we talk about race is that we often unfairly "appoint" individuals as spokespersons for "their" race.

But it would have been great if you had actually addressed what race in contemporary America means. And what maybe you think it should mean.

Also, maybe it's understandable given your background, but you seem to treat race as a black/white dichotomy. Obviously, you may not believe that, but it might have been useful to highlight that it's not. Part of broadening the conversation about race means not only that white people need to address "black issues", but also that blacks need to address "hispanic" or "asian" issues as well (and vice versa, of course).

Posted by: waltersobchak2 | October 20, 2010 4:47 PM
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