Sunday, September 7, 2008

Be Honest: How Important is Race in Your Kenosha View?

By John Nordquist


Education “is the civil rights issue of this century,” John McCain said in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. "Equal access to public education has been gained, but what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice. Let’s remove barriers [...]"

This one statement is perhaps the most impacting and revealing than any other in defining where our country is and what has been accomplished in 232 years. It didn't matter that it came from McCain's mouth. It could very well have come from Obama, or George Bush, or anyone else and still accurately depict how far we have come and what struggle lie ahead of us as a nation.

The 19th Century struggle was to define America as a nation, to expand our borders, and to stak
e our claims. In the process, millions of our people were enslaved, millions died in genocidal death camps (reservations), and millions died in civil war as we tried to set the course of civil rights straight.

The 20th Century, coming of age with a 100 year old constitution, matured and tested, struggled to ensure that all people and all races were included and segregated.protected and not just the white male dominant majority population. Though our national creed included near holy mantras like "all men are created equal" and "e pluribus unum (out of many, one)," the shameful reality was an America with no equality among races and genders at all. Constitutionally, racism was illegal at the federal level, but state and local governments, as well as institutions like schools, hospitals, even churches, remained racially segregated. African-American's may have been freed from slavery in the 1860's, but in the 1960's they were still segregated from an affluent white America and excluded from the political process.

The idealism of the founding fathers that created a union of free peoples could not carry the hearts and minds of a racially diverse population. Jews could not be members in most country clubs. Indians died off on shrinking reservations. Blacks were denied education in public schools segregated in all facets of society.

In the 1950's, the great civil rights struggle went national, with President Eisenhower committing federal troops to force states to comply with equality law. By the 1960's, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired the mass movement to ensure that all racial barriers were removed from society, and over the next 40 years, government, business, media, and education moved with it.

Racism is not eradicated. Race is still a factor in many different facets of life. Disparities in income and education, crime statistics, and job opportunity are still evident, yet with each new generation of American born, equality is more a reality.

As we move into the 21st Century, we do so knowing that discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, and any other designations that define our diversity, shall not be tolerated, and in fact, intentionally violating the civil rights of another based upon any of the above will result in criminal liability.

If anyone doubts that the great American struggle for civil rights has been won, they need to explain how Barack Obama, a racially mixed American, could stand at this moment just a breath away from becoming the leader of all Americans, capturing the hearts and hopes of half of the country and the respect of the rest.

Defining education of our children as the civil rights struggle of the 21st century is the quiet declaration of peace and victory in the struggle for equality of the 20th century.

In 1965 there were probably only a handful of Americans, perhaps idealistic followers of the Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King, who could look to the future and see an America where a black man could be nominated by a rulng party to be their candidate for President.

10 comments:

kkdither said...

I find it unfortunate that we still must identify Barack Obama as being a black candidate.

This election will either put an African American or a female in one of the two highest positions of our government.

It won't change the disparity nor the prejudice in the minds of many. It may, however, be another small step in giving these two minorities who face glass ceilings more credibility and maybe a little more equality in the workforce.

OrbsCorbs said...

I don't know about Kenosha, but the city of Racine's official policy toward African-Americans is: ignore them and maybe they'll go away.

The only time that I consider Obama a black man running for the presidency is when the media points it out, which is over and over, and that may say more about racist attitudes than anything else.

What I fail to grasp is why African-Americans today do not use their enormous economic power to foster social change. The organizing and boycotts of the 50's, 60's & 70's engendered massive and much-needed upheavals in race relations. Then it's like everything went blank as a culture spiralled down into drugs and violence.

Can you imagine what effect, say, one or two thousand Racine African-Americans quietly walking into downtown on a First Friday would have? They wouldn't have to demonstrate or raise hell or even say anything - just arrive en masse and stand there, silent sentinels, witnesses to the corruption, greed, and racism that prevents them from joining in the quest for the American dream. It would scare the crap out of the racist that runs Racine. It might even start the rest of the city thinking . . .

SER said...

Racism will never die! There are too many people out there today who do not want to let go of the past.

The Indians are the ones who got screwed over by the Spanish and the white man. Blacks where slaves, that was 100+ years ago...get over it. I highly doubt there are a bunch of 100+ people living today who were slaves. Just because your great great granddad was a slave does not mean I owe you something. My great grandmother was 100% Seminole Indian does that mean the government owes me...no, not at all.

Two blacks can approach each other and one will say, “Yo...how’s my nigger”? If a white person says the same thing to a black person, now there’s an opportunity for a fight. No, racism will never die no matter what laws are put into effect or how you go about educating people. There are those who just don’t want it to die.

When you speak of racism it is mainly about the blacks. Oh...he said the “N” word. If you’re so proud of your past then the nigger should bother you at all. I don’t see people gasp when an Italian is called a Ginney...Oh no he used the “G” word. The list can go on for all nationalities.

Although there are groups out there and I refer to them as “The White Mans Club” where being a woman, it is extremely tough for them to advance in business unless the woman is well know by one of the members. And this is another group which will never die out.

So that’s all I have to say about that..........

OrbsCorbs said...

Yo SER, how’s my wigger?

SER said...

Yo Orbs..Whazzzz up bro...we be kick'in it.

SER said...

Besides Honky...why you call'in me a whigger anyhow..

OrbsCorbs said...

'Cause you can't use the "N" word.

kkdither said...

You boys are so naughty, I'm ashamed of you. I'm certain you crossed the line...

When race, color and names come up, I always tell my students they can call me "cream cheese" since I'm so pale. :>
Young people really don't know how to deal with all of that racism either.

I agree with the comment, but failed to originally state it: I don't stop to consider Obama to be black either, but everyone in the media sure pushes it. Let's just get on with it already.

AvengingAngel said...

Norquist has fallen into a typical trap. In an attempt to frame the current state of minority affairs, he applies post facto ethics to the modern era.

How far back should we turn or ethical clock? We took the land from the Indians. From whom did the Indians take it? Neanderthal? And them? Perhaps we should turn over the United States to the first pond of primordial soup we can find.


All of us, ALL of us, have a fight ahead of us. Let's not forget that it wasn't too long ago that someone whose name began with "Mc" couldn't run for President either.

The true greatness of this country is in its ability to change. We have evolved not only as a nation, but as a people as well.

JAK said...

If you want to vote for someone (or not) because of their skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or the frequency they off-gas after a run to the border, then so what? By choosing superficial qualities, we are missing out on the best qualified among us.

Of course racism exists and it always will. But again, so what?