Monday, January 25, 2010

Racism in America

Remember the 2007 Fiesta Bowl? Boise State had gone undefeated during the regular season and made a great case for why the BCS system is screwed up. Even though they didn't get a chance to play in the championship game, they did get to play against football powerhouse Oklahoma who many had thought would battle for the national championship before they lost to Oregon and Texas in the regular season. Boise State beat Oklahoma and showed people that a team for a smaller conference could compete with the big boys.

To this day, a lot of people still reference that game as one of the best arguments for why we need a better system to determine a national champion. But the most memorable part of that game happened on the sidelines after time ran out. The star football player from Boise State got on one knee and proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend on live TV. She of course said yes and the crowd went crazy. The young couple appeared on all of the talk shows and gave a fairy tale ending to a fairy tale season that was so perfect and cheesy you would have thought Disney wrote it.

What wasn't reported in the national media were the threatening letters and phone calls that the young couple and their families received. The death threats that made police protection necessary and forced them to change the date and location of their wedding several times. You see the football player is black and the cheerleader is white. To be accurate, the football player has a white parent and a black parent and is of mixed race but that is irrelevant to most people in this country. The bottom line is that if you appear to have any black in you, if you have brown skin, then you are black and any other part of your ethnicity is not important.

The fact that just seeing an interracial couple on television incensed so many people that hundreds of them decided to threaten them is disgusting. But the fact that none of the media outlets reported on it is even more disturbing. Sports Illustrated recently ran a "Where are They Now" story and reported this information for the first time to the general public in a mainstream publication. Was there public outcry? Did it become the lead story on the news? Did Oprah do a show about it? No, of course not. Not even a letter to the editor (or at least none published).

What does that say about us as a nation? That such rampant racism exists but isn't reported. When Barack Obama became president I heard a lot of ridiculous talk that this was a sign that racism was no longer a big issue in America. If you don't believe that a large portion of the people who say that the president is Muslim, not an American citizen and all the other bullshit that these protesters are saying has more to do with the color of the president's skin that his politics then you are lying to yourself.

When the Princess and the Frog became Disney's first movie to feature a black princess people said that it wasn't a big deal. These people have obviously never tried to find a black Barbie doll for their child. Mattel only makes some of the Barbie's in black. Many of the special edition and themed Barbies only come in white. As do many baby dolls and other toys that are mass marketed to little girls.

Anyone who believes that Hurricane Katrina wouldn't have been handled differently if it happened in a predominantly white area is lying to themselves. If there is a shooting at a school in a middle class area it becomes a national news story but a shooting at an inner city school is often back page news. When a black athlete or entertainer gets in trouble with the law or has tattoos he is a labeled a thug but that tag isn't applied to a white athlete/entertainer with the same bio.

I experience racism on a regular basis in this country. It is usually fairly subtle. No one is yelling the n-word at me or refusing to serve me but I would almost rather have that. When sales people don't wait on me in the store but ask other customers several times if they need assistance, that is racism. Or when those same sales people show up at the end of every aisle that your shopping in because they think you're going to rob the store, that is racism. When people meet me for the first time after only speaking to me on the phone or communicating with me via e-mail and tell me I don't sound black, like its some sort of compliment, that is racism. When people assume that I'm the secretary when they walk into my office because I'm the only black person there, that is racism. When complete strangers feel comfortable asking me if I'm the first person in my family to go to college despite the fact that black people have been graduating from college in this country since 1823, that is racism. When people assume that I grew up in the inner city, that I listen to rap music and that I have certain cultural and political views solely based on the color of my skin, that is racism.

It is no surprise that there isn't a large civil rights movement in this country like there was in the 1960's. Most people don't even know that this racism exists because it isn't reported. I don't know what its going to take for this country to take a serious look at itself and for people to be outraged. I am almost afraid of what sort of catastrophe would need to happen to spark a civil rights movement


  1. You are right about the racism. It really was strange how it was so evident in towns that are only 150 miles apart along the gulf coast. I won't go into detail but the further west you went the worse it got.
    We have a half black grandson. Believe it or not he lives in a small town and he isn't discriminated against @ all locally. He's also a very handsome boy.
    I'm afraid when he goes to college his little world might change though.

  2. Sometimes the people that I would expect to be racist are totally understanding so I try not to pre-judge people (even though that doesn't always work out). As long as he goes to a decent-sized college your grandson will be fine. There will be idiots that will discriminate but there will also be a lot of people that he will relate to. College totally helped me come into my own.

  3. I don't believe racism will ever fade away in this world. Ignorant people exist among us. They always have and they always will. I have a white parent and a black parent and I know people see me as black before they see me as interracial and that's just fine because I am black, but the color of my skin doesn't define me.
    I know good and bad people, smart and stupid people, generous and mean people. And believe me, it’s never been connected to their color.

    I was reading a blog post a few months ago (the blogger is a young black man & he was writing about flirting). He was not talking about race or ethnicity and out of nowhere one of his readers (she called herself ghettoblackify) commented: "stop acting soooo WHITE!". WTF!!!
    That just made my blood boil.
    How does one "act black"? How is it different from acting "white"? I have no idea.

  4. Don't you just love the "acting white" comments? It's amazing to me that people don't see that as racist. So if you speak in proper english your less black? Really, so do you want to tell the racist people that discriminate against me that I'm less black to so they'll go bother someone else? Gimme a break! So if black people don't act like the idiotic stereotypes that are shown on Martin, The Jamie Foxx Show and other tv shows they aren't the norm? I swear I think people feel like all black people come from the ghetto and have all gone through some sort of Boys N the Hood upbringing.

    I got into an argument with a blogger when the whole Tiger Woods' mistressgate ordeal started. She had basically said that Tiger never considered himself part of the black community and that he only messed around with white women because black women wouldn't put up with his cheating. It annoyed me that so many people agreed with her blog and posted even more racists replies. I called them all on their racism and told them they were just as bad as the Rush Limbaugh's of the world that they had been bitching about in a previous blog.