Not enough people have the will to understand. That’s why so little changed from 1947 to 1974 and it’s why even less has changed since.
That lack of understanding will make sure nothing changes tomorrow either.
Understanding isn’t easy. It takes effort to find out what’s really going on in this country. It’s easier for The New York Times columnist Murray Chass to say:
“Many of his supporters believe the opposition to (Barry) Bonds’s assault on (Hank) Aaron’s record is race based, but if they haven’t noticed, this is a case of one black man breaking another black man’s record.
“Aaron has not turned white in the 33 years he has held the record. How, then, can anyone attribute anti-Bonds sentiment to race?
“The color of his skin has nothing to do with the public perception of Bonds; it’s what he put on or under his skin.”
It’s not nearly that simple. To say the color of a person’s skin has nothing to do with how they a perceived in this society is to ignore everything from racial profiling to poverty to Hurricane Katrina to the war against immigrants to Sean Bell to Amadou Diallo.
This isn’t the case of one black man breaking another black man’s record. It’s the case of Bonds trying to break the same record in the same society. Racism cuts this country just as deeply today as it did in 1974. Bonds and Aaron are the same man traveling the same roads that are lined with the same angry mobs.
No one has the will to understand Bonds’s struggles anymore than they had the will to understand Aaron’s. It’s the same all around. No one has the will to understand people who look for work on the streets or people who are thrown out of their homes or people that can’t go to a doctor when they are sick or people who die in wars or people who are profiled or beaten or gunned down in their own neighborhoods.
It’s easier to say they are: illegal or they are lazy or they are dangerous or they are just bad people who do bad things.
It’s never about race.
Beating that line doesn’t change the facts. It only guarantees that nothing will ever change.