Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Racism still plays role in America…

April 5, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) Today marks the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who was shot in Memphis in 1968. He was shot presumably because he advocated equal rights for African-Americans. It is not often these days we hear about an assassination resulting from prejudice, although such murders do happen from time to time, as our letters in this issue point out.

However, since men today aren’t as prone to walk around wearing bed sheets (as Forrest Gump would say), several people I have met seem to believe racism is something of the past. Although I understand the woes faced by Mississippians who have to defend against “Yankees,” specifically certain media outlets who sometimes portray our region as one dominated by nightly lynch mobs, we can’t ignore the observable fact that racism still lingers. Contrary to some socially conservative thinkers, America does see race, and it’s not just the South.

When election day comes in November, there are people (I have met them) who won’t vote for Barack Obama since he is black. Some are also apprehensive about voting for someone who they have been lead to believe is a Muslim. While this misconception highlights religious intolerance and ethnocentrism more so than racism, it was spread in part by negatively throwing around Obama’s name, which is a product of his African heritage.

To further prove that America does see race, Obama is also accused of not being “black enough.” A year ago, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) said what many people, even African-Americans, had on their minds.

I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said, as quoted by CNN.

While Biden implied that black people aren’t normally clean or nice-looking, his comment ironically underlined a prejudice some African-Americans had – that Obama had too much white in him, as he is biracial.

Another issue that at least partially illustrates racial prejudice in America is the manner in which people, from talk show host Sean Hannity to Hillary Clinton, have dealt with the relationship between Obama and his former minister, Jeremiah Wright. Instead of acknowledging that all black preachers don’t display their patriotism the same way white aristocrats do, Hannity and Clinton condemned Obama for simply knowing the guy. Even after Obama’s painstakingly moderate speech on race, Hannity and Clinton couldn’t get this through their thick heads.

Unlike some other countries, America has an intrinsic tendency to see things by looking at race. While this may not always result in racism, it easily breeds it. And even though a lot of Americans may not be racists by definition, they may display prejudice in certain situations, like Clinton did when responding to video clips of Wright’s sermons.

Also, a look at a few obvious things points to this inherent tendency in our culture to see race. For instance, just how many African-Americans have been president of MSU? Actually, they have all been white men (surprise!). Likewise, every one of our U.S. presidents have been white men. Furthermore, no Southeastern Conference school, save MSU, has ever had an African-American football head coach. If you want more, read the comments on The Reflector’s Web site under former columnist Jacie Williams’ Nov. 6 article with the headline “Race shouldn’t render dating obstacle.”

A long time from now, we will still consciously have to deal with racism in America. As King declared in his “I Have a Dream” speech, “1963 is not an end, but a beginning.”

Written By Matt Watson

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