- Gene Seymour: We need to talk about things that make us uncomfortable in dialogue on race relations
- Americans of all races and classes must acknowledge common cultural bonds, he says
Gene Seymour is a film critic who has written about music, movies and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.
(CNN)Among the results of the recent deadly police shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina, is the additional jolt of grim reality enhancing the rap artist T.I.'s video of his "War Zone," which depicts scenes of excessive, at times deadly police force used against unarmed citizens and other incidents of harassment. The blunt, brutal twist is that racial roles are reversed to show the police as black and the victims as white.
2. Then again, the kind of inquiry into root causes of violence -- what T.I. labels "the environment" -- has been noticeably AWOL in our public discourse since the 1980s as the center of American political discourse edged more to the right. At the same time the examination of economic and social factors behind street crime was considered by increasingly influential conservative politicians and pundits as tantamount to "making excuses" for or "coddling" criminals. The more recent police shootings have marked a shift in such emphasis. But even as that adjustment continues, there are now and will continue to be arguments over whose responsibility it will be to change that environment: the minorities who live in the community or the nation's political and economic powers.