The PJ Tatler

Michael Eric Dyson: We Have to 'Retrain' Americans on Race in Schools

Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson appeared on MSNBC Thursday to talk about the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case in New York.

“So, professor Dyson,” host Alex Wagner asked, “how do we retrain America?” She said that the problem seems insurmountable because it is something African Americans “have lived with since the founding of the country.”


“You have people constantly trying to argue back and forth about the future of this country while being governed by principles of justice,” Dyson said. “But you’ve got to focus on the small stuff, too, which is interactions between police departments and its citizens and in changing America, retraining it, it happens at the level of school. It happens with parents. It happens with the will and desire to want to see this change,” he said.

Dyson added that he’s afraid it will not become a problem significant enough for Americans to take seriously “until something happens in the broader white America.”

“And what I mean here is that when this pain begins to be shared in the broader community, when young people say, for instance, who have meth labs on college campuses that are granted implicit immunity end up being shot by the police, you can darn bet right then that this is going to be a problem,” said Dyson.

[You know, like that time all those white kids were killed in Sandy Hook and we were going to have that big national dialogue on mental illness because all lives matter or something.]

“We have to speak out and to have the masses of American people to imagine themselves as black people as much as they can to generate empathy to say they must speak up and they must demand changes in their own communities to go along with what’s happening,” Dyson said.


Apparently, the majority-white country that elected the first black president — twice — is still overwhelmingly racist and incapable of valuing the lives of people of color. To Dyson that means the “masses” need to be retrained in order for them to understand that black lives matter:

“And I thought [New York Mayor] de Blasio yesterday, by saying black lives and brown lives matter, makes a big difference because when that language gets repeated by white tongues, white brains can follow suit and white souls can at least be trained in a different way,” Dyson concluded.

All the “white souls” need this training, I guess, because it’s the color of your skin, not the content of your character, that matters here. One wonders if Dyson thinks this “retraining”should take place in segregated classrooms.


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