In a Nation Founded on Whiteness, How to Really Discuss It?


FILE - This photo from Wednesday Aug. 16, 201, shows a photo of Heather Heyer, who was killed during a white nationalist rally, surrounded with flowers at a memorial paying tribute to her life at the Paramount Theater, Charlottesville, Va. In a nation founded on whiteness, experts share perspective on whether it can be discussed. If white people want the future to be different, said Rev. Susan Chorley, a Boston area pastor, they have to be willing to look at the past and the present. "I think it's on us," she said. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BY DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press


John Bost seems precisely the kind of person that his fellow Americans could have a conversation with — politically moderate, neither an Obama voter nor a Trump one, willing to engage with those both more liberal and more conservative than he is, the former mayor of the North Carolina town where he has lived for more than a quarter century.


Trouble is, when it comes to talking about race with other white people, when it comes to THAT conversation, the talks he tries to have often lead to the exact same place: absolutely nowhere.


“They try to compliment you. But I read between the lines. They say, ‘You’re a deep thinker,’” Bost, 72, of Clemmons, North Carolina, says, laughing. “After a while, they just don’t show up as much.”


The conversation. The one about race. The one about whiteness and what it means in a multiracial society that is 150 years out of slavery but still reverberating with racial horror. The 21st-century conversation that seems more relevant than ever, yet the one many white people simply don’t have, or don’t want to.


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