William Raspberry: … says that having a right to say things shouldn’t stop you from saying them nicely.

It is, and I think an honest mirror would show an easy majority of black Americans sharing many of Hopkinson’s views, though perhaps expressing them in different ways. Some would remark on the folly of being lured to the suburbs just when the cities are bouncing back. Some would say we’ve spent too much time worrying about integration and far too little about developing our own resources. And some would admit that they’re simply more comfortable being among people of their own race.

But as former president Clinton found out with his disastrous “conversations on race,” candor isn’t the only value worth our notice. There’s something to be said for learning to express views (particularly on a matter as delicate and divisive as race) in ways that increase understanding, not just animosity. And there is a lot more to be said for learning to hear what we say — and learning to question sentiments that we would find offensive coming from others.

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