Dave at Orcinus calls for a dialog on race. I like Dave, he's a good guy, and I see where he's coming from, but I have to disagree. I'm not really interested in a dialogue on race; I'm more interested in a monologue: I want the black (and brown, etc.) people to tell me what they want so that I can, to the best of my ability and conscience, give it to them. After so many centuries of slavery, oppression, and exploitation, that seems the least I can do.
Having that critical second brain cell, I realize that different black people want different things. That's cool: To the best of my ability, I'd like to give each of them what he or she wants.
If some black people want color-blindness, I'll be color-blind to them. If others want integration and affirmative action, let's integrate and act affirmatively. If some want a free ride on welfare, I'm willing to write the checks. If others want separatism, all right, you can have, say, Texas. It's up to them, not me.
I'm not going to walk around feeling guilty (what good would that do?), I'm not going to shoot myself in the head, I'm not going to subject anyone else to enslavement, oppression and exploitation that black people have suffered, I'm not going to burn down San Francisco, and I can't pull economic equality out of my hat, but I'm willing to do almost anything else each individual black person wants.
The fundamental ethical position is this: When someone is suffering, and I'm in a position to help, I have to help. I can't not. And to help someone, I have to act according to what they want, not what I think they should want. Simple as that, really.