Racism Isn't A Fad

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[Comment: Race Matters]

Racism still alive, they just be concealing it!

 Kanye West sang that line in his song “Never Let Me Down” off his College Dropout album, and despite West’s intentional grammatical error, the producer and rapper made an accurate observation. West’s line rings true; but we can omit the last phrase. Racism is still alive, and it’s more blatant than ever.

Pick up a newspaper, turn on your television, visit an online news Web site, and you’ll immediately see. The news of late has been filled with reports of hate crimes and race-related tensions.

Let’s start with Don Imus and the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team.

Imus, once named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential People In America, was fired by CBS on April 12, 2007. Why?  Because Imus made racist remarks on his radio program against the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team, referring to the predominantly Black players as “Nappy-Headed Hoes”.

On Sept. 20, 2007, thousands of Blacks, and a few Whites, participated in the unprecedented mobilization movement of the 21st century – a rally in Jena, La. and around the nation to support Mychal Bell, one of the six teenaged Black males who were outrageously charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to attempt second-degree murder for beating a white student at their high school in Jena, La.

On that same night, September 20, two teenaged white males were spotted in Alexandria, La. driving around with nooses tied to the back of their pick-up truck. The next day, a white supremacist posted racist remarks on his Web site, saying that he’d like to go down to Jena and put a bullet in one of the Black kids involved in the beating of the white boy. But media coverage on the blatant racism didn’t end there.

Less than three weeks later, the Associated Press, CNN and other mainstream media reported an incident at the Model Secondary school for the deaf held on the Gallaudet University campus in Washington D.C. Seven students, six white and one Black, held a Black student against his will and marked “KKK” and swastikas on his body.

One week later, a noose was hung on a Black professor’s door at Columbia University in New York. On the same day, the Daily News had featured an entire page on racial issues, including an incident where an 18-year-old Queens, N.Y. woman was arrested on charges that she flashed a noose, shouted the N-word and threatened to kill her neighbor’s children.

The next day, New York newspapers and TV stations reported that a Brooklyn, N.Y. detective filed suit against an Emergency Service Unit Squad after he found a noose over his locker. The detective, 45-year-old Gregory Anderson, added that the squad was allegedly called the “Slave Ship” because of the large number of Black officers assigned there. The numbers of race-related incidents in October alone appear mind-boggling. Why, the answer lies in one word – trends.

Race-related issues are the current “hot topics” in media, and so they receive extensive coverage. It’s this year’s fall fad in the media industry. Do not for a moment be fooled into thinking that for years people haven’t been hanging nooses on doors, or hurling demeaning and offensive hate messages. None of these incidents are unprecedented. Racism didn’t take a few months off and suddenly decide to resurrect in the month of October. It’s been here all along. But in order for Americans to combat this cancer that’s been damaging our society for centuries, a few things have to happen.

First, the media must be consistent in how they cover racism and other controversial issues. They cannot continue the “you lead, I follow” trendy approach to news coverage on such pressing issues. That’s not really journalism.

Second, Americans have to be real with each other. One of the biggest fears Blacks and Whites have today is the fear of coming across offensive. Every one wants to be politically correct, and in an attempt to do so, people often shy away from openly and respectfully addressing and discussing race-related issues for fear of appearing racist. Sadly, this fear is stunting our intellectual development as human beings, and we remain ignorant in our knowledge of those who are of different races. The lack of an open and honest discussion has precluded a debate on the merits or demerits of issues such as an official apology for slavery and reparations.

Third, we must acknowledge and accept that racism is embedded in our history and still exists today. Before the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Blacks were neither accepted nor tolerated in America. Today, almost 50 years later, we’re simply tolerated. For the most part, the two races have found ways to coexist; but tolerance does not and will not erase genuine feelings of apathy and hatred. Do not mistake tolerance for progress. True progress will only be attained when we can accept, acknowledge and then remove the hatred embedded in our history.

The incidents of the past year exemplify what occurs in America on a daily basis. We can educate, desegregate and tolerate as much as we want, but race-related tensions will continue to repeat themselves and negatively affect our society as long as we don’t get to the root of the problem – the racism that exists in our hearts.

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