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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Standing in the Shadow of Racism

According to Dinesh D'Souza, America is not a racist nation. He should know, coming from a culture whose caste system stratified society based in large part on lines of color, even down to the "Untouchables". It is true that racism exists in small pockets, yet the reaction of mainstream society to its presence is not one of welcome but of disgust. White America, especially, is burdened by an undue sense of guilt over race. We fear being under sensitive, lest we offend. We fear being oversensitive, betraying the obvious fact that we do recognize what the people around us look like. Nearly all white people in America consider the races equal, and frankly, we're tired of beating a dead horse over the issue. Still, the issue of race casts a cloud over encounters with our differently-pigmented fellow Americans.

In other words, we fear being seen as racists. We know we aren't, but that doesn't seem to matter in the public arena. It's happened to many of us, at one time or another, and because we see racism as such a low thing, the sting of it is quite sharp. I remember being called a racist because I criticised a rap song that was playing on the radio. Now, I grew up in the era of rap. I had (and listened to death) the early albums of Run DMC, LL Cool J, and the Fat Boys. In my neighborhood, we all used to break out sheets of cardboard or scraps of linoleum and practice break dancing. I know my rap music- what I like, and what I don't. So when my coworker insinuated that I was a racist for criticizing a certain rapper, I took great offense. The end result of this was a decrease in the quality and quantity of conversation between Tyrone and me, largely because I was now afraid that anything I said would be scrutinized as potentially racist.

I think, somewhere in the back of many white people's minds, is just such a nagging concern: "I hope I don't say the wrong thing."

What a relief it would be to trust that we were not guilty by descent, that because some of our forefathers behaved despicably, we were not doomed to suffer eternal scorn for their sins! Racism will not be dead until the concern over racism has perished. With openly hostile bigots such as Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton running around, how is that supposed to happen? When will Dr. King's dream come true? When can I be judged not by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character? Then, once and truly, we will all be free at last.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh - you have hit the nail on the head!! Where have you been? This is so true of life in the US. The politically correct life has added to the normal stress of living! Thank you for letting me know that I am NOT alone!!

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