Thursday, September 27, 2012

If It Ain’t Broke, I Can’t Fix It

Recently, I was tweeted that I was really the racist for suggesting in my tweets that racism is a problem in American politics.  Considering the source of the tweets, I forwent a reply.  To paraphrase Robert Kiyosaki, ‘Arguing with an idiot, makes two idiots’.  However, these tweets rekindled my desire to understand how a society so couched in racism, fails to realize it. 
Following the great black migration to the north in the 1950s, it used to be said by some blacks, having encountered the cloaked racism in the north, that at least in the south white people were “up front” with their racism.  Some thought, that lacking the KKK, voter intimidations, Jim Crow laws, beatings and lynching of black men, this was a benign racism compared to the racism they had experienced in the south.   They could achieved some measure of security for themselves and their families in moving north, but they soon became aware that the racism would impact their longer term struggle for economic dignity, and if they strayed out of their designated parts of the city, their very lives.
As compared to the overt racism of the South in the 50’s, the relative safety of the North’s more covert racism was a welcomed change.  What the new arrivals soon discovered that racism in the north was so covert, most northern whites didn’t think it even existed, making it even more difficult to fight.  In the South you knew who your enemy was, and they reminded you daily that you were definitely theirs’.  In the North, while that determination was no less easy for blacks, their white counterparts were clueless as to how they could possibly be considered racist, even if blacks had to stay out of their neighborhoods for fear of their very lives.
Over 50 years later, I think back to November 2008.  While I never uttered the phase “post-racial America”, I’m afraid I might have been naïve to think that America had turned a corner on race.  What I learned since is it wasn’t a corner we turned; it was a “U-turn” instead. They are still clueless.  You can’t fix something that you don’t even think is broke.

The election of the first black President of the United States should have announced to the world that America was moving beyond race.  It should have been a source of great pride, that a descendant of slaves could, a century and a half later, be President.  What America has said instead to the world and America, how dare a black man presume to even think he should, or even could hold the highest office in America. 


  1. A fun thing conservatives in particular like to do is CAUSE a problem, then blame those who suffer from the problem FOR the problem.

    How that applies to racism is put young black kids in bad schools and many grow up with bad grammar. Ergo -- decide a black speaking with bad grammar must be unintelligent.

    And don't hire blacks, causing more poverty among blacks -- decide it's something about BLACKS that makes them poor.

    Only know first hand about discrimination against women, not race. But am finding with ignorance in general I myself stay calmer when I think of the person as a small child who has not yet learned the good things about the world. We'll both be better off when I'm gentle in speaking the truth.

    ESPECIALLY with a "Black" president (he is, of course, half white) he needs all of us grassroots spreaders of his story to emulate Big Dog Bill Clinton: Speak up -- joyously -- ALL the time.

    Donn Cole @DemsChgTheTalk

  2. The step to solving a problem is always defining the problem. Hopefully, someday we can have the long needed discussion about race in America. But the author is correct, with so many denying its existence, it remains unchecked.

  3. I'm not quite so pessimistic that we can't turn a corner past race. The election of Barack Obama just paints glow-in-the-dark paint over all the remaining racism. And it's a lot, but it's much easier to see. That means it's easier to eradicate. Highlighting racial biases leads to disgust by our youth as they witness it, which leads to a whole new generation of rational, thoughtful Americans that could care less what color your skin is.

    At least, that is my hope :)

    Nice article, thank you!

  4. Tony,
    you took the words right out of my mouth. Obama's presidency has brought the closet racists out into the light of day. From there we can at least begin to have a dialogue with people willing to listen. The pressure on Obama as the first black president and role model to all has been enormous. (and has put some seriously grey hair on his head). Weaker men than he would have buckled under the divisiveness and racial attacks cloaked as "politics" I admire him for standing tall for all of us.

  5. There are many things I can't get a handle on with American society. One being the gun culture for any citizen having the "right" to carry arms.
    Such a "right" is anathema to Australian way of thinking. Guns do of course exist here, particularly by criminals, but regular Aussies go about their daily business with nothing more on their person than a wallet and credit card..... But I'm off topic.

    I do not understand why an American, who happens not to be born in America, can never run for President?
    Why is this so?
    Currently in Australia, we have a Prime Minister who is not only female, but was born overseas and migrated to Oz with her parents as a young child.
    Has America, "The land of the Free" truly lost its way?
    I hope not, but fear so.