Why is it sometimes difficult to talk about race?

That’s a great question. Even the first thing that came into my head seems like it’s wrong to say, and I want to edit the thought or correct it before I say it. So this is a good example. What I want to say is that race is used too often in ways that are unhelpful to understanding the problem.

See… I fear that I’m going to be misunderstood as saying that race isn’t important. I’m not saying that, but I am saying that sometimes when we are talking about race we are really trying to talk about something else.

Take the vaccination problem in NYC and elsewhere. Yes, when we look at statistics by race — who is getting the vaccine — it looks terrible that more Latinx and African-Americans aren’t getting their shots, and that Whites seem to be at the front of the line. But the real problem here isn’t race is it? Isn’t it a problem of how much vaccine is available and how it is being distributed?

A similar analysis of schooling in NYC could be made.

In both of these cases — it must be said, in the end — if we figured out how to get the vaccine and learning into the arms and heads and hearts of African-American and Latinx citizens we would have solved the distribution and equity questions. So even if race can be a stand-in for deeper, more intricate problems in society, if we talk about solutions from a racial perspective we will be making progress.

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Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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