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Sunday, September 25, 2016

bandw
New polls tell us that the public’s attitudes about race relations have taken a bad hit since President Barack Obama’s historic election. Can we all get along? Obama’s election was a marvelous measure of how far we have come in race relations. His taking office revealed how far we still have to go.

It didn’t help the public’s optimism that the poll was taken days after the racially divisive acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in a confrontation last year as the teen walked home in Sanford, Florida.

The poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, which has tracked race relations since 1994, found only 52 percent of whites and 38 percent of blacks have a favorable opinion of race relations in the country.

That’s a big drop from the beginning of Obama’s first term, when 79 percent of whites and 63 percent of blacks held a favorable view. It also marks a bigger drop than the 70 percent level found by the same pollsters in 2009 and 2011.

I, for one, am not surprised. We had no reason to expect any further magic from Obama, a wizard of oratory, without doing our part to continue the fabled “conversation on race” that liberals have called for since the 1960s.

It is a call that today’s conservatives tend to deride as an excuse for liberals to harangue conservatives. As Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly commented in responding to the president’s speech on race after the Zimmerman verdict, “When you hear a pundit or politician saying we should have a quote, ‘conversation’ about race, that means you are in for a sea of bloviating which will likely lead nowhere.”

Obama acknowledged as much in his speech, which he delivered from notes. However, he wisely encouraged conversations “in families and churches and workplaces,” where “there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest.”

Good idea. Americans seem to be getting along increasingly better across racial and cultural lines in their day-to-day lives than their so-called elite opinion leaders do.

Politicians and the rest of the chattering classes too often profit from inflaming conflict. It raises campaign funds — and audience numbers.

Less celebrated are the points of light I find in surprising places, like the new working relationship forged by a couple of famous Illinois foes, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush.

It began in the worst way, after Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was mistakenly gunned down in an attempted gang hit just days after she’d returned from performing with her high school at the presidential inaugural festivities in Washington, D.C.

  • charleo1

    The only racist shit in this country lives in the WH and his Buddy the AG. Since barak has become president race relations have gone south. That’s what happens when you have an avowed racist who’s only claim to fame was attending college as a

    • sigrid28

      earth to charleo1, earth to charleo1, you OK?

      • idamag

        Yes, we need more dialogue in this country, but that isn’t happening.

      • charleo1

        It seems to me the racists, bigots, and general enablers, and supporters of the White power structure, have had a problem with civil discourse for sometime now. Perhaps the irritation was rooted in being coerced in mixed social circles, to no longer refer to African Americans as Negroes, but as Black, set the wheels in motion. Remember, the “Black is Beautiful,” campaign following the signing of the Civil Rights, and Voting Rights Bills? There was, it seems to me, a good number of these so inclined, that felt as though they were not only being forced to give up some of the privilege, but to acknowledge that ceding, in a heretofore not required respect. When Archie Bunker proudly asserted he was not bowed by social pressure, but called, “A Spade, a spade,” this group cheered, and thought why not. But how? Then, someone came up with the term politically correct. Suddenly Right Wing radio was afire, saying the social correctness that had swept the Country in Left Wing circles, was one said, “Killing the country” It was no less than the Left Wing Commies, stifling free speech! One commenter here I noticed, wished they would ban the use of the term, African American.
        On vacation, on the road. But I did want to get back to your thoughtful comments with my impression. And my agreement on
        standing up, and reminding the energized racists, it was, and still
        is, and always will be, unacceptable, to disrespect our fellow human beings on the grounds of race.

    • Dominick Vila

      Charle, always consider the source when you read garbage like the one you quoted in your post. The fact that people like the poster you highlighted feels emboldened by the immature diatribes and ridiculous claims advanced by white supremacist groups, hate groups, and organizations like the Tea Party does not mean that tiny minority in our population deserve the attention they have been getting. They are an embarrassment, and the worst our society has to offer.

      • sigrid28

        I wish that vocal racism were the expression of a “tiny minority,” Dominick. However, I’m afraid that with the influence of ALEC-sponsored legislation throughout the country, restricting voting among minorities and spreading Stand Your Ground laws nationwide, we are witnessing a racist intent emerging from the Republican party as a whole. I think we all thought it could never happen again, those of us who witnessed the Civil Rights Movement or the sweeping improvements in women’s health options brought about by Roe v. Wade. But this national debate about civil rights has emerged once again on a rather wider basis than a “tiny minority,” I’m afraid, and it will have to run its course unless we want to erase the progress of the last fifty years.

        • Dominick Vila

          You are right, referring to racism in America as a symptom limited to a tiny minority is probably wishful thinking, although I see a lot of improvement among young Americans on that issue. I believe the same is true for the constant attacks directed at women.

          • idamag

            racism has increased since Obama became president. It has always been there, but was covert when the Civil Right Act became law. Now, with encouragement, it is becoming overt and if we do not speak up, we will go back to Jim Crow.

    • idamag

      Exhibit B to consider why we do need the discussion on race relations: Southern Poverty Law Center, who keeps a watch on supremist organizations, reported that white supremist groups doubled when Obama became president. Exhibit C the ugly name-calling and rhetoric against this president that no other president experienced. I am sure the skinheads come on these post looking for recruitments.

      • charleo1

        Well said! Thank You!

  • Catskinner

    The last thing we need to talk about is race. All that discussion does is enrich Al Sharpton and Jess Jackson, and cause uninformed folks to behave badly in the streets. Now that racism has become a non-issue and a thing of the past, the American public needs to move on.

    • sigrid28

      You need to put your entire post in quotation marks, because it is almost word for word what I hear on Fox News these days. I wish George Zimmerman had not behaved so badly on the streets of Sanford, Florida. He could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he had simply identified himself as the neighborhood watch and asked Trayvon Martin if he could help him find his way home–in the rain. But Zimmerman didn’t do that because he had racially profiled Trayvon Martin–so no, racism is not a thing of the past.

      Prepare yourself, because there is going to be a great deal of eloquent, fine-tuned argument coming the way of all the racists on the far right who want to proclaim their racial animus. And as for the Reverend Al Sharpton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson profiting as spokesmen for civil rights, why should they not enter the national dialogue? Would you silence the wealthy Fox News celebrity and all-purpose racist Bill O’Reilly, whose idea you cited above, without using quotation marks?

      • Catskinner

        The reality is, race isn’t an issue anymore.

      • Catskinner

        Well, I don’t know, sigrid. Fox News didn’t talk to me so they must have figured it out for themselves.

    • Harold L. Harris, Sr.

      This morning, I was watching Morning Joe, they was doing a piece on Henry Ford and what he did for America. He was identified as a great man, but one of the individuals on the show found this to be a problem. How could he be a great man if he hated Jews? Well, Joe tried to guide the man through a history lesson by suggesting that Thomas Jefferson was seen as a great President, yet he owned slaves, and the guest replied that it was a different time.

      I submit to you, that the Guest was of Jewish decent and his
      problem was narrowly focused on the treatment of Jews by Henry Ford. We tend to always try to suggest that we are above race until it hits us directly. Your reference to Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton, yet leaving out those on the right, Rush and others on the right that rush to the defense of any act carried out against people of color. It
      is personal and we only see what “They” are doing to us but never what may be going on from the other side.

      I guess I was pretty lucky because I was raised during my informative years 1-7 by a Black Grand Mother and a half White Grand Father. I had a collective of White and Black Uncles that managed to present the world to me as one without colors. It was not until I moved in with
      much more Urban Mother and Father that I was introduced to the “real world” where I had a place and I had better stay in it. I developed a real hate for people that didn’t look like myself and as I grew into manhood, that hate was only fed by the attitudes of what was seen as “Good” people doing bad things and because the
      bad things was usually directed at me or people that looked like me, my hatred only grew as well.

      Then one day, while riding on an Armor Personnel Carrier (APC)
      in Viet Nam, I was abruptly yanked into the APC and my head hit an ammo container that almost knocked me out. The fact that it was a Young White NCO that had pulled me into the APC did not help the situation at all. I was about to stand when a Mortar Round went off outside the APC and had I been sitting atop of it as I was, I would have been killed instantly. My training kicked in and I went to my weapon, a 50-cal Gun and got ready for combat.

      The next morning I was unable to sleep because my mind was
      focused on one the pain in my head and two, the guy that had saved my life and the fact that were connected. I asked myself, how could I have lived so many years filled with a hate for a people and not be able to see them as individuals as I had been taught by my Grand
      Parents and Uncles? It was that moment in time that I realized that I had been wrong and started to see people as individuals and not as races.

      We are not a post racial nation, in fact we are a multi-racial nation and we live in our own little communities believing the words of the bad people and never able to see the good people. I could have seen this one Young White NCO as one of the good ones, but I guess the pain in my head made me focus that he was a good individual, not white or black but a person that saved the life of a fellow Airman.

      That was a lot of years ago and I have managed to do a lot of growing-up and now I can say that I am now Post Racial, I am still more than half African American, I can still look in the mirror and see a proud Black Man and I can still walk the streets and see White People, but what I can no longer see is a bad race of people, I now see bad people that happen to belong to another or in many cases the same race.

      I get from you message that you don’t see yourself as a racist, just a
      White Man defending the heritage of the White Culture. No; you did not say as much however you surly implied it. Someone wrote that we need to learn to use our words and often what they imply does much more to identify us that what they actually say.

      Am I a Racist? Yes I am, but not as you would most likely use it.
      When I walk through an Urban (Mostly Black) Mall, I find that I watch the people and pay closer attention to my wallet, watch where I park my car and make sure I hide any valuables from view. However, I do the same thing when driving through Mississippi and Alabama; known as County Seats of the KKK in my neighborhood. We all want to be better, but we also know when we have to be careful and like it or not, it all reflects back to race. Stop trying to access blame by projecting your feeling into others and take a long look in the mirror and tell the bigot looking back at you to get the hell out of your life. It will not change the way you see or maybe even treat people, but it will change the way you understand why you do it.

      • Catskinner

        Still, I don’t see how stirring it up all the time helps. I suspect as we see more and more interracial marriages it will simply disappear some day.

        • Harold L. Harris, Sr.

          I understand what you say, but I have to ask the question; how long do I tell my grandchildren they will have to wait? We are talking about people not things. Nothing seems to just go away, there is always a reason to hate something or someone and we have a responsibility to call the haters out every time. I personally don’t care if the hater is black, white or all the colors in between, I don’t care if they are gay or straight, religious or atheist. People need to learn to keep control of the things that they have control over and allow people to live their lives. We are always making up new laws to tell someone how they should live, who they should love or what they can do with their own bodies. Let God take care of Gods business, and let me take care of mines. I think God will do a great job and if I turn wrong, allow him to be the final judge. Let’s let people be people and allow them to live free.

          • Catskinner

            I can’t answer your question, HL, but I think the wait would be longer if we keep stirring up the angst…

          • plc97477

            I am blown away by your post. I too would like to see an end to the hatred.

        • charleo1

          Let’s hope we don’t wait until all humans are all brown. Which is the prediction. We can do better. Communication is the key. Speaking of marriages. Did your spouse ever say to you, we need to talk about this? And you ask her, why do we need to talk about this? It just stirs everything up! She says we really need to talk about your gambling, and the kids college money. (No, I haven’t been using NSA techniques.) What do you say? Do you say, well first let’s talk about your incessant shopping? If you’re smart, you talk about your gambling. The race problem, as uncomfortable, and inconvenient as it is, still exists. Ignoring it, or pretending it doesn’t exist, for our own sake is not an option. If 90% of the African American Community believe the Fl. self defense, stand your ground law, produced an unjust verdict. Then, out of respect alone, we have to talk about that. They are not exclusive in that opinion, by the way. But, for Governor Scott to let these people have to stand in the Capitol for days, then come out, and tell the press the law stands as written, period. Is not only disrespectful, But is short of fulfilling his obligation as Governor. They would have gotten that response from a Communist Government, anywhere in the world. Call me crazy. But, I believe we’re better than that.

    • Allan Richardson

      If you were around when Emmett Till was murdered, or when that church was bombed killing for little girls, you probably would have said the race issue was being overblown also. You may have even stood up for the killers with a “he had it coming; that white girl THOUGHT he might try to rape her,” or a “too bad about those children, but there was COMMUNIST plotting going on in that church too.”

      Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson did not START out to build political careers, and neither did Congressman John Lewis (“getting in GOOD trouble since 1960”). If there had been no racism when they came of age, the first two would have happily gone into local church ministries and spent the rest of their lives preaching against sins to their congregations (as would Dr. King), just as Moses would have remained a shepherd if his people had not needed freeing from the Pharaoh. The fact that their people were being oppressed BY THE POWER STRUCTURE caused them to divert their attention to THOSE SINS. So, in a way, “white power” made them famous. If they are now being rewarded for putting their lives at risk for so many years, well, they have EARNED it.

      When a police officer in the USA makes an arrest and investigation of an alleged self defense shooting REGARDLESS of the race of the shooter and victim; when “ghetto” neighborhoods get GOOD schools properly funded; when the “war on drugs” ends (removing the incentive to sell them illegally) and good jobs are created where the workers (who either have no cars or have old, cheap, unreliable ones) are desperate for jobs; when voting is as accessible for the poor as for the affluent and comfortable; THEN Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson will be out of work, and happy about it.

      And interestingly, the RIGHT wing commentators like Rush, Glenn and Sean did NOT get into conservative activism by going to jail in protest or being beaten with police batons, tear gassed, or fire hosed while marching for justice. They just found a profitable way to entertain others as bigoted as themselves and earn a good living spreading hate. If they had been in anti-tax marches and the “liberal” police had beaten them up and arrested them for being in the streets, they would have more credibility. But wait, NOBODY ever got beat up protesting for right wing causes, because the police were ON THEIR SIDE!

      • Catskinner

        All of which is exactly why we need to stop talking about race and concentrate on something constructive.

        • charleo1

          That’s the problem my man. It’s exactly why we need still
          need to talk about it. There’s too many like yourself that
          say, what’s all the fuss about? I thought Zimmerman was
          justified, and he was acquitted, so get over it. When 90%
          of the African Americans in the Country believe the verdict
          was unjust, because the law allows the targeting of them,
          with suspicion used as a mitigating factor, we need to talk
          about it. It won’t kill you, and you might learn something.

          • Catskinner

            There are important things that need to be done. Rehashing all of this gets us nowhere. It’s way past time to move on.

          • LotusJoan

            Those that do not learn from history
            are destined to repeat it. I want
            better for our future. Thank goodness
            you and Fox do not determine the national conversation.

          • Catskinner

            We learned from history, Lotus. That’s how the criminal justice laws evolved in the first place.

          • idamag

            Seeing as how you are that type, move on. Let the rest of the country have empathy.

          • idamag

            And I am a caucasion who believes the verdict was unjust. It shows the racism is still out there.

          • plc97477

            I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.

      • idamag

        It average out 29 killings a week of the Black population. And there was no law to protect them. The jury found the murderers of Emmitt Till not guilty because Till should have known better than to look the female clerk in the eye and say, “hi.” Till was from Chicago and he didn’t know about the racist south. The murderers of the four boys, that were buried in an earthen dam, went unpunished. Mrs. Luizo, who went to Mississippi to help register Black people to vote, was shot and killed. The four little girls were killed in their Sunday School class in Alabama. Life Magazine was brave enough to do a series on the lynchings or the rest of the country would not have known what was going on. The uglies and their descendents are still there. The only thing between them and the return to lynchings is the law.

        • Allan Richardson

          Very true. And the history behind SYG seems to indicate that it was intended to protect lynchers from prosecution, and in some jurisdictions, it will be enforced that way. Imagine a black Zimmerman and a white Martin: there would have been an immediate arrest, scrupulous and swift collection of evidence by their best CSI team, immediate notification of Martins white father of his death (the black father had to find out three days later by making a missing person report AND following up on it), immediate plans to prosecute, truly competent prosecution, etc. And NO media reports indicating the white victim was a “thug” or criminal because of his fashion choice, or because he was in a bit of school trouble (which would have been bargained down to suspension and warning, anyway). The mentality of the “redneck” cop and the redneck “wannabe cop” is that if a black man dies suspiciously, it’s ALWAYS his own fault, and whoever kills him MUST HAVE been defending himself. If he drowns tied up in chains, their view is “he STOLE more chain than he could SWIM WITH.”

        • plc97477

          And the law is being constantly downgraded.

    • LotusJoan

      The “race issue” will be a non-issue when the N word has no cultural reference at all. Until then race and racial tensions are very much a part of our present.

      • Catskinner

        Then we’ll have to wait until both Sharpton and Jackson are gone. Once nobody uses it to make a living anymore, it will cease to be important.

    • idamag

      Them n******rs need to keep their place, right? And if they did things would be betther for everyone?

  • Jack Ragan

    As a member of a family whose slaves were like part of the family, I wish the phrase : African American could be banned, .My lineage is Irish/Scotch but I never use a term to describe it. I am 91+ years old and have had the opportunity to talk to “Aunt Sally”, who called my mother her pet and to talk to my great grandmother who grew up with slave kids but I never heard of them by other than their names. In fact, when they were freed they were proud to be called the Worsham niggahs(sic), no ni—er. and I kept up with her daughter and her granddaughter. So, as far as I am concerned the race thing should not be any problem. One other thing, on my mom”s side of the family a grant near where the Pentagon is now and I am trying to find out which tribe was there originally to see if I need a “green card” from them.

    • sigrid28

      An equal opportunity racist, I see.

    • charleo1

      First, thanks for sharing. Your comment is both enlightening in it’s revelations, and demonstrative in how far our understanding of the institution of slavery, has advanced from the benign, “almost like family,” version, first advanced in the pre-civil war days, to attempt to silence the abolitionists. And, later on to absolve those who had taken part in the essentially evil practice of one human being owning another, as one would own a horse,
      or cow. In essence to say, yes, we knew of those who abused their slaves, sold their children, forced what we would consider husbands, and wives,
      to be separated, or to have intercourse with other slaves for desirable offspring. But, “ours,”were, “like family.” So I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. So they insist, let’s talk of less divisive things, shall we? I say no, we must talk further. Because there is so much more us Scotch-Irish, and Italians, and all the rest of us, who are viewed by the world we live in
      as White, as long as that means something other than simply than the coincidental color of our skin, we must talk more. Lincoln came to his own understanding, and contemplated how much blood God would ask of the Country, in retribution for the sins aganist Him, committed by a Country, that by His teachings ought to have known, better. However much it takes, was his awful conclusion then, as the blood letting continued, and threatened the very existence of the young democracy, with so more much to learn. So,
      that must be our commitment today, as some ask, how much longer must
      we continue to talk of this? However long it takes to reach the, “Promised
      Land.” As Reverend King so explained. We’re not there. We must continue.
      There is so much more in need of mending, that neither you not I will see
      the day. But we can not stop now.

    • idamag

      I doubt if you are old enough to remember whether the slaves were part of the family. Chances are, they weren’t.

  • Dominick Vila

    Instead of talking we should do things that leave no doubt that the prejudices and overt discrimination that existed until a few decades ago no longer play a role in the decisions and actions of most Americans. Although much progress has been made since the 1960s, much remains to be done. The worst part is that racial tensions and discrimination are only part of the problem, the constant attacks on women suggest a larger problem that just race.