Issac Bailey

The fearful yell ‘race baiter’ to end discussions they aren’t mature enough to handle

Can someone define the term “race baiter?”

I ask because I’ve been called that countless times by some of my most passionate, um, fans, even in response to columns about the latest jobs numbers. (By the way, for the 65th consecutive month in July we produced private-sector jobs — the longest such streak in U.S. history.)

There’s even a fledgling Facebook page upon that premise, with a picture of my face crossed out. It’s a fascinating use of a person’s time.

Every time I’ve tried to get someone to provide a definition, or examples, of my race baiting — because I like having exchanges with people who don’t view the world the way I do — all I’ve gotten is silence or a nebulous response on the order of, “Well, there are too many to count” or “I don’t have any examples; it’s just a feeling I get.”

That makes discussion impossible. Maybe that’s their intent. Maybe it’s even more than that, to not only shut down discussion but thinking itself.

I suspect the people who breezily throw around the term race baiter are afraid to have any of their views and preferences challenged.

It’s a way of avoiding having to do any self examination and also puts their personal comfort above the pursuit of justice or real progress.

Who cares if there are racial imbalances throughout the criminal justice system? Or if black boys are labeled as threats as early as pre-school and kindergarten? Or the suspension rates of black girls are approaching those of white boys? Or if an educated black man with no criminal record has employment prospects similar to those of a white man with little education and a rap sheet?

Or that a misguided war on drugs has devastated families and, in some cases, entire communities?

Never mind that the negative images of black men and women we’ve all been fed for decades have been so pervasive that the actions of many good people who would never intentionally discriminate are affected by race any way?

No, tell me only what I want to hear in the way I want to hear it when I want to hear it, they seem to be saying.

Tell them nothing that might make them uncomfortable, because their feelings are more important than correcting generational wrongs or challenging a damaging status quo.

It wouldn’t be worth mentioning if they weren’t among the loudest voices in the public square.

They have a right to speak. That doesn’t mean we have to follow their lead and take the easy way out of hard discussions.