Monday, April 28, 2014

Racism: Still Alive in 2014

On Tuesday, November 4, 2008 when newly elected President Barack Hussein Obama addressed his supporters at Grant Park in his hometown of Chicago, he boldly declared that a “change had come to America”. For many, the election of a man of Kenyan decent signaled that America had finally closed its dark chapter on racism and change had in fact not only come to America but to the rest of the world.

The mainstream media soon declared that America had reached the pinnacle of race relations and President Obama’s victory was proof the nation had entered a “new day”.

With recent comments by Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher battling the federal government’s efforts to restrict the land his cattle can graze on, and Los Angeles Clippers’ owner, Donald Sterling, it seems the change President Obama ushered in has worn out its welcome.

While talking to reporters covering his stand-off with the government, Mr. Bundy recalled driving by a public housing project in Las Vegas and seeing “at least half-dozen (black) people sitting on the porch, they didn't have nothing to do”. He added that they were “basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?...They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton…And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?”

Perhaps Mr. Bundy has forgotten this country’s past and the savagery of slavery. His warped vision of Blacks “having a family life” during slavery was quite the contrary. One of the abhorrent tragedies of slavery was that it constantly tore families apart. Children were sold off and separated from their parents; spouses were broken up and sold to the highest bidder. In “Help Me Find My People”, author Heather Andrea Williams uses letters, public records, slave narratives and historical documents to “recreate the wrenching scenes of separation that happened on plantations and farms, in marketplace and on auction blocks”. Slavery ensured anything but “having a family life”.

The impact of slavery continues to have a lingering effect it on society despite having ended nearly 150 years ago. Slavery is also thought to be the biggest blight in the nation’s history.

While many conservatives who formerly viewed Mr. Bundy as a “patriot” have denounced his comments as “vile”, several continue to support him and argue his statement is an attack on the federal government versus one that disparages African Americans.

It is a mistake to believe that race is no longer an issue in America. NBA team owner Donald Sterling’s views on race is a testament to the fact there is a ways to go before we can announce that change has truly been achieve in terms of race relations.

In a recording, Mr. Sterling allegedly scolded his girlfriend, who happens to be of Black and Mexican heritage, for taking a photo with Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Fame Magic Johnson and posting it to a social media site.  During the conversation, he went on to say:

-- "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?"

-- "...Don't put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games."

Mr. Sterling seems to have overlooked the fact that his team’s roster is comprised mostly of the same people he prefers to not have an association with. It is on the backs of these same players that he continues to make his fortune.

Mr. Bundy and Mr. Sterling are just the latest individuals to share their racist viewpoints with the nation. Politicians have long spewed underhanded, subtle—and not so subtle—jabs at President Obama.

From Brush Ash, a Republican National Committee member, accusing the President of “shucking and jiving” to GOP Representative Doug Lamborn’s “tar baby” comment to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer photographed pointing her finger in the President’s face, the attacks have been relentless.

There have been numerous reports that President Obama may be the most disrespected president in the history of the United States. Recently the Democrats admitted that this may in fact be attributed to his race versus his policies.

It is na├»ve for us as a nation to believe that race no longer plays a role in our daily lives. Racism has not gone away and we must continue to have an open dialogue about race if there is truly to be a “new day” in America.

Racism is wrong on every level—regardless of who is perpetrating the act. It goes against God’s teachings. Galations 3:28 states that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

What do you think the church’s response should be to racist comments, attitudes and actions?