While that plays out, the least that we white Americans can do is to not ignore race. Some liberals used to pride themselves on saying they didn’t see race, which I always thought was fatuous, more about white self-regard than the reality of American life. No—as I learned at the water park, we have to make ourselves see it and think about it.
As any meditating Buddhist can tell you, obsessing on your thoughts is a recipe for dissatisfaction. “Seeing and thinking about race” has been the default for white progressives for the last half-century at least; if doing so led to anything more productive than compulsively circling around rhetorical and conceptual dead ends, we would surely have seen those results by now. Tomasky relates a simple anecdote of minor social friction which was resolved thanks to people practicing some basic, universally-valid virtues: patience, respect, soft-speaking, and forgiveness. No need at all for a racial healing workshop, yet, predictably, this is what he decides we need. It’s like a passage from one of Shelby Steele’s books come to life.