Don Rice, Special to Beyond Black & White
Can we get rid of racism?
There’s a problem in this country; a problem that has existed since time immemorial. The root of the problem, as I see it, is the lack of acceptance of the differences among people. It’s called “prejudice”, which is defined most simply as “pre-judging”, that is, judging without first knowing. Thoughout most of recorded history, prejudice raised it’s ugly head mainly with regards to religious, cultural or, to a lesser extent, geographic differences. Little attention was paid to other differences.
What “other differences”? What has been called “racial” differences mainly, referring to the color of the skin. Before anyone jumps on me, before the founding of this country, there was some prejudice based on that difference. But it was mostly minor compared to the others. Color was mostly noted, but culture and religion were the big ones.
Fast forward to the early days of the United States of America. The practice of slavery, which has existed, like those referenced differences, for most of recorded history, changed. In the past, slaves in most cultures were capable of earning or buying their freedom; they were permitted money of their own, they were allowed to grow their own food and stay with their families. That ended here.
Fast forward again, to the present day. Slavery in America officially ended 150 years ago. But it’s effects are still felt. There are many sociological and political reasons for this, and yes, religious reasons as well. But I won’t get into that here and now. Suffice it to say that one of those effects revolves around the fact that we have our first “black” President, Barrack Hussein Obama.
Even before he was elected to the highest office in the nation, there were people who created out of thin air the idea that he was unqualified for the office by reason of not being born in this country. That has been thoroughly debunked, yet the meme just refuses to die. The leaders of the Republican Party stated publicly from the outset of President Obama’s first term in office that they would do anything and everything to make him a one-term President. Never before in our history has anything like this happened.
Most recently, for example, in the year 2000, upon the election of George W. Bush, there was much grumbling, but there was no massive outcry that he would be made a one-term President. Most of the people accepted the fact as it stood and got on with their lives, until some time after September 11th, 2001, when it became clear that his priority was not stopping Osama bin Laden, but toppling Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9-11. He even said, on camera, that he wasn’t concerned about bin Laden. When his priority became clear, that was when the massive outcry against him went out. But it wasn’t enough to keep him from a second term.
So what is different now? One thing and only one thing: We have the first BLACK president in our history. Adding up all of the things being said and done against President Obama since before he even was elected, the one thing that is truly different is his skin color. People have said they are against him for other reasons, but when those reasons are shown to be untrue, they still refuse to admit that the color of his skin has nothing to do with their opposition.
Here is the rub. I was raised in a mostly racist family. I even have an uncle who was in the Ku Klux Klan. As a child, I saw other Klan people, and listened to them talk. I can say from first-hand knowledge that, in those days, they rarely spoke in derogatory terms individually unless they were either alone in their own homes, in their group meetings, or, in the South, wearing their hoods at their public rallies so nobody could see their faces. In other words, they didn’t have the courage of their convictions.
Now, we have a radio personality who stated on the air several times for all to hear, that he hopes President Obama fails. We have a right-wing rabble rouser (who just passed away) who, if not a racist himself, clearly aroused the racists in our society with his infamatory speeches, and said nothing to them about it, which suggest that her agreed with those racists. In fact, he claimed that there was NO racism among conservatives.
The icing on the cake, however, is the Federal judge who sent an email suggesting that President Obama’s father is a dog. Literally, a four-legged barking canine animal. Supposedly it was a joke. And he apologized for it when it became public knowledge. His apology states that he knew it was a racist “joke”, but that he is not a racist.
Well, Hayell! If he’s not a racist, what was he doing sending it in the first place? And being a Federal judge makes it that much worse, and that much more clear, that he CONDONES racism, at the very least against this President! If you CONDONE racism, then you ARE a racist.
On top of that, if race isn’t an issue, as so many claim, then why does it come up in conservative writings, speeches and videos? Blogs are loaded with it, videos are loaded with it, speeches are couched in code words: Food stamp President. Inner city children without role models who have jobs and pay bills. “Blah” people. “Those” people. Welfare queens. And almost NOBODY among the conservative establishment calls them on it. It’s even joked about on Fox News.
What can we do about this? Voter registration drives nationwide. Boycotts and pickets of sponsors of hate radio, just as was done with Glen Beck. Find ways to take down hate blogs and hate websites. Enlist the “Occupy” movement to help out. EDUCATE people.
We can work to silence the biggest public voices of hate and racism. But we also have to have a massive education campaign to reach those who don’t have public voices. And if we can’t reach them, then we reach out to their children, in the churches and schools, in the parks and community centers and recreation facilities. Posters, billboards, signs in windows. Anything to get the message out that racism IS NOT ACCEPTABLE and WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!
Shut down the Rush Limbaughs, the Brietbarts, the Coulters. And impeach the judges who have racist attitudes, like the one in Montana who sent that email. And vote out the polititians who refuse to speak up and condemn the racists and other blind, unthinking haters.
Make this a nation that lives up to the words, “We, the People.” One that lives up to the words in the Declaration of Independence, that “all men (and women) are created EQUAL”, and that we ALL have the inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Or lie down and let the haters have their way. It’s as simple as that. And it’s our choice to make, individually and collectively.