Thursday, December 20, 2007

Black & White

Is America still racist? On the surface, a lot of people think we aren't a racist country (anymore) and that a few ignorant voices don't represent the progress this country has made over the course of the 21 st century. However, I believe we still live in a country full of racial bigotry and social inequalities.

Recently, I heard on the radio that somewhere deep in the backwoods of southern Georgia there is a "White's Only" barbershop. There are still people using the "N" word like it is a part of their everyday vocabulary. And in popular media news, Dog The Bounty Hunter star Duane Chapman called Monique Shinnery the "N" word so many times, I had to check the year on my calendar and make sure it didn't start with 18. Despite his remarks, I am sure he'll be back on television soon enough. You think he won't be? Don Imus has made his return on ABC Radio after calling the Rutgers basketball team "nappy headed hoes" and saying the basketball game looked like the "jiggaboo's vs. the wannabe's."

America steps up to defend virtually every group that has been victim of a hate crimes except African Americans. When Isaiah Washington makes light of one of his co-workers sexual preference, Washington lost his job and got scrutinized by every media outlet available. From MTV to E!, the story was everywhere and people were infuriated at his comments. When kids hang a noose on the door of a Columbia University professor, you'd be lucky to catch some relevant news about it on BET. Outside of predominantly black television and radio stations it was as if this never happened. Hell even MSNBC cancelled a story on a missing black woman in Florida so that they could cover the news of Paris Hilton being released from jail. I wonder if MSNBC will cancel a story about a missing white female when Mike Vick gets out.

To paraphrase a statement Al Sharpton made on his radio show; "when you talk about gays, it's a hate crime. When you talk about Italians, it's a hate crime. When you talk about Jews, it's a hate crime. When you talk about blacks, it's free speech." I'm no proponent of everything that comes out of Al's mouth, but this one hit the nail on the head.

We are considered inferior when it comes to achievements and superior when it comes to failure and disappointment. The top black athletes get heralded for all their prominence in their sport, but never for any greatness done outside of that. How many people know that Allen Iverson rescued a woman from an over-turned car on the highway and even went to the hospital to check on her after the fact? I'm sure there aren't that many people aware of Iverson's heroics since every person with a pulse has been forced to see Mike Vick, Barry Bonds, and Marion Jones dishonored for acts that were highly criticized and shameful to their respective sport. When we're a workhorse bringing in corporate dollars society loves us. But when we need help none of the powers-that-be even stand by our side. Barry Bonds' legacy has been tarnished for years now based on alleged steroid use and they've even sent the Feds at him to make sure a second black man doesn't sit atop Babe Ruth's home run legacy. Yet not one bit of "he won't get my hall of fame vote" talk has been thrown at Roger Clemens, who now sits right next to Bonds in the steroid-use saga.

From sports to institutes of education, television to radio, racism in America remains prominent and has experienced a resurgence in 2007. We are once again seeing the inequalities that brought out the greatness of Dr. King, Medgar Evers, Jesse Jackson (pre-'84 presidential campaign), and others. We are still living among an abundant lack of respect for the efforts incredible leaders put forth to make this Country's citizens live together in peace. Every ethnic group could make an argument for its position in the racial battles they face (d), but blacks seem to be trapped at the nucleus of the disdain and unfortunatley, we always have been.

Maybe our problem starts in-house. As a group we barely respect each other, so it’s a contradiction to expect other ethnicities to. Without situations like the infamous “Jena 6”, we typically remain divided as a people. We fight amongst ourselves more than we combat racism and discrimination. We ask for equality among others, when most of us are drawn to social circles based on class description and popularity. We don’t look at each other equally and until we do, it’s hard to imagine that anyone else will.
-Ant

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