The reporter looked up from her notepad long enough to ask the candidate a question. "And, why are you running? What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?"
"Well, I want to solve racism, for one thing," the candidate responded.
The reporter had dropped her eyes back to her notepad in preparation of writing what he was about to say. But, her eyes shot right back up when she heard that answer. "Excuse me?" she said.
"Yes, I want to solve racism," the candidate repeated.
The reporter paused, reflecting for a brief moment. "You know, I don't know if you can do that -- solve racism. That's a rather big assignment."
The candidate smiled.
"And, I don't know that I've ever heard a politician suggest there is a way to solve it," the reporter said. "They decry racism, they oppose it, but I don't know that I've ever heard any of them suggest they can solve it."
The candidate smiled.
"So, do you already have an answer," asked the reporter, "or are you just going to go out and find one?"
Now, it was the candidate's turn to pause. "Well," he began, "you might be right about it not being something we can solve, and I think you are also right about it being something that isn't perceived to have an answer. People fight racism by marching and protesting against it, but no one seems to have an answer as to how to solve it."
He paused again. He drew a deep breath.
"I go to church," he offered. "Do you mind if I tell you I took the answer from something I learned at church?"
The reporter just looked at him, not replying.
"Yes," the candidate said. "In church, they teach the steps of repentance. Would you agree that racism is a sin -- a national sin -- and therefore is something worth repenting of?"
The reporter just stared at him.
"In order to repent, you need to recognize you've sinned," the candidate said. "If you ever are going to repent, you've got to sit back and recognize you're doing something wrong."
He paused, then continued. "If we want to have a chance of ending racism, we have got to help as many people as possible realize they are sinners, so to speak. We've got to help them recognize they are racists, and we've got to instill in them a desire to change."
"That's a tall order," the reporter said. "Do you really think you can convince racists to admit they are racists, and to change?"
I think we can change some," replied the candidate, "but, no, I realize we can't change them all."
The reporter pursed her lips. "How are you going to go about convincing people they are racists, and how are you going to convince them to change?"
"You get them to thinking," the candidate said. "You get them to reflecting. You ask them, 'Of all the incidents we've had where police have been accused of violence, is there a chance that any of them really involved racism and unwarranted violence? I mean, I'm just thinking some people are racist. To suppose that there is a magic door that keeps any and all of them from becoming police officers might be a little much. Sooner or later, it's going to happen. All the events we've had might not be police violence. Some, maybe most, might not involve any racism and any undue violence, at all.' "
The candidate paused, and then said very gently, "But, if a person says all of the incidents were justified and none of them involved racism or undue violence, that person . . ." He paused, again, and made his voice even lighter. "That person might be a racist. Can you see why I say that?"
He wasn't done. The candidate had one more point to make. "We also need those who make false accusations of racism to realize they, too, need to adjust. So, you ask them, 'Of all the incidents we've had where police violence has been suggested, is there a chance some of them did not involve police violence? I mean, it just seems to me, theoretically, that a person potentially could make a false accusation of racism. And, if in theory it is going to happen, it would seem it would in real life happen. Wouldn't you agree there is at least a chance that somewhere in there, one or more of the incidents were nothing more than false accusations?' "
The candidate's voice again became soft and gentle. " 'It just seems a little much to suggest that never happens.' " Another pause, and then the even-quieter voice. " 'I think you'd agree such false accusations can be very harmful.' "
The candidate glanced at his watch, realizing he had to be somewhere. "If we are going to solve racism, we have also got to solve the false charges of racism."