Conversation Of The Week VII Fall 2011-2012: Ignoring Racism Does Not Eliminate Bigotry And Prejudice, Or Its Impact On Future Generations

October 31, 2011
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The sign says it all, we must, as a country and people, unite against racism. Photo Credit:

Present day racism, bigotry, and prejudice negatively influence our future generations!

In the fast-paced, information over-load society in which we live, much of what we see and hear remains in our consciousness for a fleeting moment. There is so much that we miss, never see, or hear about at all. Out of necessity, we often self-select those areas of interest that obviously influence our immediate situations — if not today, then maybe next week, or even next year. Too often, to our own detriment, we ignore many other things going on now that will affect our long-term future.

The perennial issues around race, race relations, racism, the oppressed and the oppressors (deliberate or inadvertent), the plight of the disenfranchised across the street, across town, or across the country often briefly, if all, catch attention. Rarely, do we bother to ponder, let alone take corrective action, about those situations that are bound to come home to roost someday, one way or the other.

Who would have thought that the “Occupy Wall Street” protest would have spun similar protests in cities all across America — from New York to California, from Washington State to Washington, D.C.? The very media that bombards us with information also instantly connects us. Therefore, those protests have gone global. The common theme is that millions of hard-working people are tired of being exploited economically — not getting the same opportunities as the rich and powerful.

Why do we think, or find comfort in the notion, that one day there will not be similar protests from millions of people who have grown tired and worn by the perpetual practices of racial or ethnic discrimination? Isn't it time to recognize that millions of individuals have grown intolerant of being perceived and treated badly because of some old, inaccurate, and derogatory stereotype?

Can we imagine a time when there might be a rainbow of people, representing many groups, cutting across races and ethnicities who finally taking a stand by saying, "enough is enough?"

Imagine? We had better.

While they might not make the newspaper headlines or the evening news on local networks or worldwide cable, there are people addressing racist behavior on many fronts. They are occurring everyday in many places.

altJust this week alone, Reuters, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, reported about a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which objected to the prevalent practice of the FBI conducting investigations of Americans based on their ethnic identities. According to The Washington Post, the ACLU claims: “The FBI’s own documents confirm our worst fears about how it is using its overly expansive surveillance and racial profiling authority…The FBI has targeted minority American communities around the country for investigation based not on suspicion of actual wrongdoing but on the crudest stereotypes about which groups commit different types of crimes.”

The FBI stated that it understands the position of the ACLU. But the agency noted that there are legitimate exceptions concerning issues of national and border security.

This issue alone highlights the importance of accurate and ongoing communications at a minimum; and the importance of seeking out the real facts about the many different people that make up America and basing actions on those facts.

How the U.S. government acts is critical to routing out unwarranted racist behavior.

But there are incidents occurring in communities across America on a daily basis.

In Hillsboro, Oregon, police officers are calling the Ford pickup truck, homes, and an elementary school that were painted with racial slurs a hate crime. Unknown suspects used spray paint to write racial epithets, draw swastikas, and leave the KKK (Klu Klux Klan, the most notable white supremacist group) signature.

Michigan State University administration and board of trustees have come under fire by students for failing to respond in a timely fashion to a string of racially-charged incidents on campus. Students are demanding that the university revisit its diversity and inclusion policies.

In Springfield, Illinois, four universities are teaming with the Coalition to Promote Human Dignity and Diversity to sponsor a series of programs and forums on race relations for the surrounding communities.

And the student group, Students Teaching Against Racism in Society (STARS) at Ohio State University, launched a poster campaign to warn Halloween revelers about the insensitivity and ignorance of selecting costumes that depict racial and ethnic stereotypes.

And, it doesn’t stop there. Even the NBA lockout negotiations are raising questions about its racial and stereotypical overtones. Bryant Gumbel, host of Real Sports, alleges that negotiations are not being done in good faith. He notes that NBA Commissioner David Stern has taken a plantation mentality and approach: The players, predominantly black, do not know what is good for them (chattel); and therefore, the owners, predominantly white (masters), know what is in their (the players) best interest. What is to be made of it?

The point is that race, racism, and inaccurate stereotypes still occupy too much space and influence in our daily lives.

What will it take for real change?



This article touches on a lot of different things, and I agree that there is a lot of ignorance in America. However, I believe that the wrong approach is taken to correct the problem of racial inequality or any other issues regarding race too many times. A trend that I constantly observe is total and complete immunity to one racial group, but not the other. Even in organized on-campus collegiate dialogues this happens, and in my opinion it is a shame because not only does it stunt the opportunity for healing, but it ends up being salt in the wound. Just because one group of people’s ancestors may have experienced significant hardships does not mean another individuals haven’t solely because of their skin color. So in other words if ignorance, discrimination and voluntary segregation are going to end all parties must be willing to put pride aside and allow all sides of the story to be heard. On a separate note, I really can identify with the last idea in this passage on racially insensitive costumes. When I first read the article about these college students I was actually kind of mad at them, and thought “what a bunch of over-sensitive whackos” that was until I was at a party this weekend talking to one of my best friends who happens to be African American and this guy walked by in a football jersey with his face painted completely black. I honestly cringed and was much taken aback by how completely rude this was, and it actually made me hurt for my friend. Even though he didn’t say anything racist it was still very inappropriate. I think I ended up being more offended than my friend who is actually African American. Halloween costumes should be appealing to everyone, not a handful of weak minded people who find mocking other races funny.

I agree with you in that to create change we should put all things aside and listen to one another. In some respects, I feel as though everyone just points the blame at everyone else. It’s everyone but our own faults, when really, most people are guilty for not taking action against racism. I know there have been times when an inappropriate joke was told, but I didn’t say anything at let it go. What would have really been correct of me to do was to say that was offensive and intolerable to tell to ANYONE.

I can relate to your initial reaction to the Halloween costume advertisement. I agree that many people take their costumes to an insensitive and racist area, but I don’t believe that we need to eradicate culture costumes altogether. They should definitely be handled with more dignity, yes, but Halloween is one day out of the year. Instead of negative stereotypes, what if we focused on the positive ones and showed others that we actually value their culture with our costumes? Halloween costumes are about being someone who you are not for one night and if you choose to be someone from a different culture, don’t use that night to disgrace the culture, use it to show that you respect and admire the culture!

While I do agree with the idea of reverse discrimination, I am hoping that you can please do some reading on white privilege -- I think this will give you more of a background on why people of any other color that is not white - have suffered a MUCH bigger disparity in economic standing. I really urge to please do this for your own benefit and understanding of the other side as well as your own side of the story - that way you know both...not just one story...

So much that goes on sounds like a bad TV drama: just events written into a script to provoke a reaction from the main characters, exaggerated for effect. Racism, stereotyping, racial profiling, how have we not erased these yet? I have not personally seen instances of racism, which is why when I see movies or TV shows that involve stereotypical characters (the Black gangster or hip-hopper, the Middle Eastern shop owner, the Chinese restaurant owner, the Indian computer technician) I literally cringe. It is so embarrassing to see that writers are perpetuating racial stereotypes in media that I have a physical reaction.

But I consider it embarrassing mostly because it feels like they are trying to pedal our society backwards from the point we’ve reached where racism is considered intolerable. So when I read that people are still mistreating others based on racist values—and government organizations of all things!—I feel a sharp, sickening pang in my gut because the fact that it is real makes the embarrassment and shame of it ten times greater. Because I am white, I feel like I have to share the responsibility of what these other white supremacists are doing, that I have to apologize for being white and therefore being even just slightly attached to them. I won’t apologize for the people themselves because an apology has to come from the heart, but I will back up my own apology for what my whiteness represents by joining with the myriad of voices who call out and denounce the sins of discriminatory practices. If racism hasn’t disappeared yet as I would like to believe and as my limited experience has made me believe, then part of my mission in life is to be active in squashing it out in whatever ways I can.

From this week’s conversation I feel that the most important statement is that “how the US government acts is critical to routing out unwanted racist behavior”. People’s actions are highly influenced by the way society acts, society acts can sometimes reflect the government. People may see all this racial profiling and discrimination going on and that may reinforce their beliefs that it is acceptable to act that way. It’s the same way as children learn from and mimic the actions of their parents, people base their beliefs based off the way their government believes. It may not be as apparent that people act based off of their government but in order to grasp these concept Americans beliefs could be compared to beliefs of other countries. As always incidents of protests against inequality are highly important. People who may not care about some of the inequalities that occur see protests on the news and that makes them think about them. Thinking about them may not seem very important but it is more than they were doing before.

Yes, it is true that everywhere in the United States there is some kind of oppression and racism. For me, living in the "Deep South" in Alabama I see and experience racism everyday. Most of the racism is from the whites towards blacks. Even at my college where people are being educated their is still racism. An organization through the school of Social Work recently put on an event to recognize and promote cultural diversity and equality. Overall, it was pretty much like a protest. The protest definitely caught the attention of many people on campus who would never even though that racism was prevalent. I think the best and most possible way of real change is small steps. Education and awareness is key. Once you affect someone others have a greater chance to make changes.

I think that the mentality in America is to keep everything hush hush, and by doing this the problem will just go away. But by doing this we are overlooking some very critical areas (as pointed out by the article above). I can say however that the topic of race seems to be a very sensitive one that not many people feel comfortable to talk about. I am always afraid that if I am to speak about race or ethnicity, I will be "shot down", yelled at, or singled out of a group. When it comes to gender issues on the other hand, I am not a bit afraid to speak out for what I feel is right.

Where does this feeling of being afraid come from? Is it that we are afraid of the consequences that will follow? Or could it be that we have been instructed to be politically correct and in doing so we have excluded a significant amount of the population from speaking out? I don't know where my fear comes from.

I assert that we should not only expect but encourage those who have been disenfranchised through discrimination and oppression to take to the streets. It remains to be seen if the Occupy Wall Street protests will effect political change, but it has certainly drawn attention to the plight of the middle and working classes. Too many people are unaware of and subsequently unconcerned about the continued systematic oppression perpetuated by our current political system. Large scale protests will at least bring the issues to the forefront and give us a chance to teach and learn and start a national conversation about what’s best for all of our nation’s inhabitants and the direction we, as a nation, should be headed in.

It’s dismaying at times how accurate the statements made in these articles are. It seems possible that we as a society may have unknowingly settled to assign race related issues to the back of the bus. To add to the list of examples already given regarding unequal opportunities, I’d like to mention institutional racism at the public school financing level. The lack of funding urban schools receives, relative to that of schools in suburb communities, is substantially lower. Here in the United States, its fact that millions of children of minority or ethnic background don’t get an education equal to that of affluent groups children, predominantly consisting of Caucasians. Experts suggest that part of the imbalance can be explained due too much of the funding towards education being allocated by means of local property taxes. For the communities where property values of homes and businesses are not high, those schools funding will be minimal and less likely to offer a high quality education. An excellent education should not be a privilege reserved only for the well off; this opportunity belongs to every citizen.

In my opinion I agree, I believe that racism isn’t seen in the media as much as it’s being done. And I also believe that if racism keeps being kept being ignored, it’s just going to continue happening. By people hiding racism, it makes people believe that racism isn’t such a big deal and it might make people In my political science class, my classmates and me had to choose an current event that deal with racism, politics, or anything related to that. We ended up choosing a current even that happened in Jackson, Mississippi. In this current event, a group of white teens ended up killing an African American, out of hate, by beating him and after his beating, running him over. All they wanted to do was kill the first “black man” they saw. Some of you reading this might have not even heard about this. While doing this, I had just barely heard about this in October and this crime actually happened earlier this year. This shows that the media doesn’t show racism as much as it is actually happening in the world.
I study at CSUSM, and one of the most racial things I have seen on this campus is a newspaper called the Koala. This newspaper is filled with racial slurs and its offensive to many races and it puts down women. Man students here actually get joy of reading this and get a good laugh. They pretend like its nothing, but others view this as a super offensive and racist paper that needs to be stop ASAP. Some students have actually protested to stop this because it is a big deal, people should be laughing at someone publishing racial things. Some of the things being said in this newspaper are so racist and stereotypical, it makes people think if this is ever going to stop. People who protest against these things are really hoping that maybe on day racism will stop, and once it stops hopefully this world will be a better place and people will stop hating on other just because of what their skin color is, or what they look like.