Black culture and the role racism plays in black American history are discussed at length in the national dialogue around race relations. We regularly debate use of the “n-word,” for example, and the impact of historical racism on outcomes for black Americans. In fact, black culture comes up in conversations about everything from mental health and homophobia to how parents discipline their kids. On the other hand, the role that white culture plays in our society often goes without remark.
Late Tuesday, news broke that yet another unarmed American, a black man named Walter Scott, was killed by a white police officer. As with Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Rodney King nearly 25 years ago, the brutality was captured on video for the world to see. The New York Times put the damning evidence at the very top of its homepage and it quickly spread throughout social media networks provoking outrage, disgust, horror, grief. These reactions have come most vocally from black Americans. The silence from white activists, elected officials, public figures, and citizens has been deafening.