This thread http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?postid=3034430#post3034430 and in particular the below post got me thinking…I’ll get to my question/proposal at the end…
This – well, the last two sentences – certainly sounds like racial harmony paradise. I have to note that it doesn’t sound much like the Virginia (stated location of poster), that a couple of my (black) friends hail from. I am not saying this is the case with this poster, but an interesting phenomenon in contemporary race relations is that the power and/or population majority (in the States, white people*) is often unaware of the complaints/issues/discontentedness of the power minority (one such power minority in the States being African Americans).
This “unawareness” about the power/population minority by the majority exists in part because 1) statistically, a person in the population minority is likely to come into contact with, and therefore have opportunity to learn about, many persons of the population majority, but the reverse need not be true; and 2) the power minority has to be educated about the feelings/likes/fears/probable reactions of the power majority as a matter of survival. In other words, generally speaking, most blacks know a lot about whites and the “white psyche,” whereas most whites don’t know nor need to know much about blacks and the black psyche.
My question/proposal, for Dopers in any country, is: would you be willing to undertake an informal and very nonscientific survey of black people and white people (since they were the subject of the original thread) in your area and ask them about their perceptions of the state of race relations there, and report your findings in this thread? Say 5-10 black people and 5-10 white people. You could choose them “randomly” and you could use your family/friends/work acquaintances/someone you strike up a conversation with on a park bench/whomever, but I think it would be best to ask people whose basic answer you don’t already know. Of course, it would need to be done sensitively – in other words, I don’t anticipate that walking up to someone on the street and blurting some questions out would be the best approach. Dopers are smart enough to figure out how to do it…sincerity and humility are probably useful tools to bring along.
I would be interested in the feedback, and whether the answers people receive correspond with what they expected, based on their own experiences in, and perceptions of, their area. I think it would be informative to know the race of the survey-takers and responders.
Do I have any takers for this sensitive subject, about which we should probably talk freely a lot more and with which we should be a lot less obsessed?
*I know that whites might not be the population majority here any longer, but they have been for a long time. They definitely remain the power majority.
FWIW, I have done this informal survey of many of my friends and acquaintances for most of my life, probably because I am interested in people and often saddened by the state of race relations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Anyway, it is always informative and I think it is worthwhile – if not to save the world, then to be in touch with one’s own community and its strengths and flaws.