Race relations news on most local newscasts consists of police scenes where a robbery, shooting or murder has occurred. That seems to be the standard. Isn't there more going on than these negative episodes?
Until a standard segment on race relations that address a broad array of issues becomes a regular part of the local and national news as sports and the weather, we will forever be content to think that such episodes define entire communities and groups of people.
This is not only what is covered on local news but on the national level as well.
There is a great deal of coverage of high profile acts that seem to be racially motivated. We all remember the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida, which was the center of demonstrations, hearings, and television talk shows for weeks on end. The trial of George Zimmerman, the shooter, had a spot on the Evening News until the verdict was rendered.
Whenever there is a racially-motivated beating, killing, or other actions in a community, at a social gathering or wanton graffiti and racial slurs glaringly displayed, major media rush to report it. There are so many examples we can recall that have occurred in recent times.
Many of us likely remember the wanton killing of a Muslim mother of five in California. The killer or killers left a calling card imploring the family to get out of America.
Then, there was the senseless killing of a black man in Mississippi who happened to be walking to a convenience store when he was beaten and run over by a pick-up truck driven by white teens who were looking to kill a "Nigger." They found an innocent unsuspecting black man, and killed him.
But where is the ongoing conversation so such incidents will not be repeated in the months or years to come?
During the last several months, we are seeing more and more racially-infused incidents on our college campuses, involving future generations that will be our leaders for tomorrow.
There are so many other low profile incidents, those that do not make national news, that are occurring on a daily basis in communities all across America, involving people of all racial and ethnic groups.
Until we are willing to take inventory on an individual, group and societal level, of all those factors – factual and fictional – that shape our attitudes and actions as we interact with others who are different from ourselves, race will continue to be used as a divisive and destructive force.
Incidents that would otherwise be considered as everyday encounters and common conflicts take on a life of their own, fueled by the stereotypes and labels that we hang on to and allow to order our world view. Do we care whether they are accurate or inaccurate? Are we afraid to examine their veracity, for fear it might lead us out of our comfort zone, shatter the monochromatic world to which we predictably retreat?
How can that conversation occur in family rooms, around the dinner table, in classrooms, cafes and clubs if we are to move beyond the labeling and stop falling into the same old perennial cycle of accusation and denial about the state of race relations in our neighbors, communities, cities, our nation?
Would a regular segment on the evening news that covered more than who shot John or robbed Peter be of value as a source of education and enlightenment?
What do you think?