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.
Just 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?