Hardly a day goes by without some report of a racially-motivated incident. They often cut across age and socio-economic class. They are not confined to urban ghettos, but often include suburban neighborhoods, hamlets, soccer fields and country clubs.
These occurrences rarely make the evening news or the front pages of newspapers. But they beg for our attention nonetheless.
Just this week alone, we saw incidents of racial graffiti plastered across buildings on a Montana university campus, and on homes in New Hampshire. On Monday, a student at the University of Montana found a white supremacy bumper sticker on the door of a Native American Center. Last week, they discovered discriminatory messages stuffed into books in the African-American section of the university’s library.
In Concord, New Hampshire, the FBI responded to investigate three incidents of messages left on homes calling the families who lived in them “subhuman.” The homes were those of African immigrants. On the positive side, white neighbors, appalled by the messages, helped to remove them.
But the United States is not the only country where such incidents occur. In the United Kingdom, racist graffiti was scrawled on the entrance of a beauty salon, t and on a welcome sign at a popular park. While these incidents targeted blacks, the UK has also found itself in the throw of racist comments against Indians and Asians. Most notably, the incidents that occurred at the polo club where Prince Charles is a member.
Racial insensitivity is also playing out on the cosmetic and confectionary stages, resulting in companies pulling the packaging and advertising that some groups find offensive.
Racial slurs are not confined to older generations who should know better. They pervade cyberspace where the very young dwell. The results of an Associated Press-MTV poll released this week shows that teens and young adults often use and tolerate racial and derogatory names and slurs. While the young people acknowledge that use of such discriminatory words is wrong, 54 percent still think it is fine to use them among friends.
The poll found that the derogatory language frequently used online by young people is not confined to racial groups, but such language is often used against women, gays, and the obese.
Where do we break the cycle of wanton racial and social discrimination and insensitivity? Clearly, some incidents are blatant and in your face. But what about those that are just as pervasive in our communication media?
It is alarming to think that we are regressing, if not losing, the battle against creeping racism in all its forms and facets, across all races, black, white, brown, and beige.
When we look at all the challenges we face as one humanity, we can ill afford to lose the war against racism.