What Post-Racial America?
Anyone arguing that 21st-century America is "colorblind" needs to look no further than the headlines to see how race continues to prompt controversy in our country. In the past couple weeks alone, we watched a celebrity chef, a second-degree murder trial, and a Supreme Court decision all make news due to their racial implications.
Concerning the Paula Deen controversy and Trayvon Martin case, blacks and whites remain disconnected. As some fans flooded Facebook clamoring for Deen's redemption and defending her language, many blacks remain unconvinced of her contrition. In the Martin case, most blacks I know are hoping for a guilty verdict (along with more than half of blacks in America, according to Gallup), but the general population has mixed opinions, if any at all.
While some believe that we have achieved an equitable society, enough that the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act, many blacks—especially black men—remain subjected to indignities every day. Far from color-blind or post-racial, there's still a way to go.
It seems as if the president's election, instead of ushering in the new post-racial U.S., has revealed the troubling underbelly of race relations in this country.
A few weeks ago, the New York Times ran a story detailing the slide backwards of black professionals. One commentator, a white hiring manager, accused African Americans of having a victim mentality and being hobbled by slavery's legacy. He wrote that he preferred to hire "hard working" and "bright" West African immigrants who do not carry the same baggage. Commentators went back and forth about blame, some maintaining blacks should just "get over it."
Meanwhile, a mini-dust storm erupted in the black press over what was considered a "scolding" on the part of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama when they addressed graduating classes at predominantly black colleges in May. Commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic, wrote a blog post chastising the First Couple for talking down to the black graduates. He wrote that the Obamas assume a familiarity with, and seem to feel comfortable criticizing black audiences, in a way they do not with other constituent groups.
This got me to thinking. We do, in fact, need to have a conversation about race: and about the violence, drugs and hyper-sexuality in our communities; the epidemic of fatherlessness; and the limited dreams that cause generations to languish in the projects. And let's not forget the abysmal state of black matrimony.
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