On Racism in the News

racecoverThink about how “race” has been a headline the past 10 days. Yep, race, that label humans attach to other humans because how one looks.

We have our first African-American president, who actually is biracial; whom many voted for or against because of race. We have a distinguished professor of Black culture at a prestigious university making calls of racism against an officer who also trains peers against racial profiling.

We have a presidential news conference with President Obama making a mistake when answering a question. As fellow blogger Tim Valentine explained to me, the president answered as a Black man and not as a president. Yes, Tim, thanks for helping me understand.

We have a Latina nominated to the highest court amidst charges of racism in judicial ruling, yet none have been cited. We have a senator voting against her because of potentially biased judgment, yet he was denied a spot on the Federal court because of his racial views.

We have a Fox News Commentator calling President Obama a racist. We have countless of viewpoints on race from columnists and bloggers. We have CNN airing a news documentary, Black in America 2 (which I watched), and the first promotion of their fall news documentary Latino in America.

We have a Boston policeman accused of making inflammatory, racist remarks; yet who knows have many other incidents across the USA and around the world that were racist and didn’t produce a major headline.

Change in racial attitude requires 4 key steps: education, reflection, admittance, and reconciliation. Put another way, we have to learn to increase our awareness, examine our personal beliefs, admit our short comings, and actively seek to change what we do.

I think of a recent interview I saw when a person said they had just boarded an airplane and then noticed both pilots were Black. Yes, he initially wondered about whether or not they could fly the plane, BUT he caught himself. Besides admitting to himself that the thoughts were ludicrous, he also publically talked about his thoughts being wrong.

Pope John Paul II going to the prison to forgive his shooter is remarkable forgiveness. In terms of race, I recall the meeting between Elwin Wilson and Rep John Lewis (D-Ga).

Earlier in the year I posted about my trip to the Understanding Race exhibit that toured through Cincinnati. It was a great learning experience. The exhibit is currently in Philadelphia (Franklin Institute) through 9/7/09 before opening a several month stay in Los Angeles (California Science Center) in late September. If you get a chance, go to learn about yourself. FYI: The exhibit’s online site is also a great resource and includes a virtual tour.

We’ve come so far in the past 50 years, but the journey still has a long way to go. I sincerely wish that race was irrelevant – unfortunately it isn’t – but maybe that day of irrelevance will come in the future. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I wonder what will happen first, racial irrelevance or the fall of the new Rome … personally I hope for racial irrelevance.

Additional Information

Image courtesy of the American Anthropological Association

10 thoughts on “On Racism in the News

  1. HA! I absolutely love this. I won’t go into detail, because you know I could talk all day on this subject. But you know the opportunity will arise yet again that we get to discuss this.

    I’ve dismissed Rush Limbaugh & Glenn Beck for ever having any credibility on many issues, especially race. I would personally debate both of them at the same time just to shut them up. Many who take these clowns seriously couldn’t have a logical debate on race anyway and only look for a reason to project their own ignorance onto President Obama and any other person who disagrees with their point of view.

    In regards to Dr. Gates & Sgt Crowley I believe they are both the unknowing actors in a larger debate. I would love to be on a panel discussing and working to resolve the issues of race, but not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. The root of racism, discrimination and bias is essentially at the center of so many issues and conflicts in the world. Few people are willing to honestly explore this and actively do something to make it better.

    Let me stop, because I see a post developing. 🙂

    Once again, Excellent Post. You’re going to have to write something terrible at some point.


    • Tim,
      I knew you would appreciate this one … plus I know you could go on for days! … if a positive sense though! 🙂

      I’m still amazed that how well our posts today matched.

      Since you want to debate so many people, consider contacting the cable/satellite companies to consider an All-Tim Channel!

      Your comments are always appreciated … thanks.


  2. Frank,

    I felt the same way as Tim Valentine when I heard Obama’s response to the question regarding Henry “Skip” Gates. I was watching live and I heard him start with “I don’t have all the facts so I can’t really comment…” and then about a minute later he said “I think it is clear that the Cambridge Police acted stupidly…” I was taken aback, even though I agreed with his opinion. He totally answered as a black man and forgot that he was the leader of the free world.

    I did look into it a bit and discovered that as a Senator he focused a lot of his efforts on racial profiling cases and helping pass legislation to minimize this as much as possible. He is passionate about the issue and it showed in his response. I didn’t mind it but I do understand how it can rub some the wrong way.

    Great post Frank


    • Rad,
      Tim writes good stuff, and if you haven’t read his blog, I recommend it. I’m glad I remembered the Wilson-Lewis meeting, as I recall watching the initial report on ABC news. Courtesy of YouTube, I rewatched it several times this morning!

      Thanks for verifying my thoughts on this important, but sensitive topic.


    • Larry,
      Thanks for the kind words. The ABC piece was awesome, and I think an important part of the message.

      Although President Obama misstep on the Gates situation, he did the right thing to get them to talk. Time will tell, but maybe something good will come out of it between them … for instance maybe the officer and the professor will become part of the others class.

      Conversation is important as it helps fuel understanding and temper misunderstandings.

      Thanks for the comment.


  3. Frank — GREAT post. But you know what; I’m so very tired of race issues. We all bleed red.

    What will it take for race to be seen as an asset — as in diversity is good. I would hate for all of us to be same with the same culture, habits, thoughts, likes, dislikes, etc.

    If there wasn’t diversity I would not be able to enjoy Italian, Thai, Ethiopian, Japanese (sushi in particular), Jamaican and Irish foods.

    What will it take for us earthlings to stop feeling superior of other groups and stop belittling each other?

    Will ‘aliens’ have to drop in on earth and want to marry our sons and daughters before accept earthlings who are simply of a different race?

    Racism sounds so backwards and uncivilized. It sounds so 1494 and we’re living in 2009.

    Why don’t more people have a sophisticated and broader outlook on life? With the internet and thousands and thousands of colleges I would think by now that people are socially educated, progressive and enlightened.

    We live in a cosmopolitan world – can the cosmopolitan thinking, progressive, enlightened people PLEASE stand-up and speak out!

    This topic drives me crazy because of the closed minds and ignorance that are like cesspools.


    • Paulette,
      Wow … you hit the nail on the head more than once … personal fav – racism seems so uncivilized. … WOW!

      I can’t emphasize the impact the Understanding Race exhibit had on me as it created a lot of thinking and internalizing.

      In so many ways it is a tiresome issue. On the other hand, their are those who keep banging the drum to get more people over the hump, such as Tim Valentine. On the other hand, there seems to be some who want to keep racism an issue … sad – very sad.

      OH well … we could go on and on … nonetheless, thanks for the comment.


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