Monday, November 17, 2008

Race relations in 2009 and beyond

“Many ___ feel that the country their forefathers built has been ... stolen from them, so there's in some places a real boiling rage, and that can only become worse as more people lose jobs."

This is about President Obama, the economy, and America. But not exactly the way you might be thinking. The above comment is a quote missing just one word. And that word changes the meaning completely.

That word is “Whites”, placed after many in the first sentence.

But take a moment and imagine that in its place the word African American. The meaning changes, but how it changes might be really interesting for the nation.

The reason why this is important is because since the election, 200 racially motivated hate incidents have occurred. Each of these incidents are crimes, of varying degrees and severity. And the offenders have been across the gambit of age ranges from teens to far older adults. And of course some are small minded racists.

The thing is that most of these people, though White, are not the stereotypical image the media has created of modern-day racists. Many are high school and college educated. Some are from middle class or higher income homes. Of course the traditional isolationist, less educated, poor, weak willed, and essentially backwards racist still have not disappeared from the earth yet.

It seems that since the election many Whites are coming to the view that the current status of the Government is exemplified by the Presidency of Barack Obama. And that’s without him having taken the Oath of Office, or serving a single day in office yet. Which is even more baffling when the fact that Government has been run by Whites for 232 years is ever considered.

But I started this conversation considering the quote. And I asked what you thought when you interject different races into the spot where Whites was stated.

As an educated Black Puerto Rican the change in the word makes the statement make sense. It is the anger of living in a nation that was literally built on the bones and blood of ancestors – and never receiving a thank you or I’m sorry. It’s the anger of being kept from schools, jobs, homes for hundreds of years. It’s the way America has been everyday up to and including today. And tomorrow looks only slightly better.

Considering history, especially any aspect of Black History in America beyond the paragraph that existed when I was in school, it makes sense for that statement to be said by Blacks. And it seems foolish for Whites to say it. It actually sounds laughable when I hear it worded that way.

But if some Whites, who today have a greater potential to achieve virtually anything they want than I do after 40 years of work, believe this statement to be true what does that mean for America? When people who enjoy ownership of 99% of the wealth of the nation, 90% of the Government positions, 95% of ownership and executive management positions, start to get anxious where is the nation going?

I had a statement back when I was a kid

“If it takes more than 1 guy at the same time to beat me in a fight, I must be a badass and damn intimidating.”


President-elect Obama has yet to pass a law, take an Oath, or even pick a Cabinet. But the fearful are already reacting, shifting blame of any perceived or real ill on Obama’s back. This isn’t about politics, this is just racial. And Obama must be the biggest badass of all.

The more I hear of these things, the more concerned I become for the nation. Because if we do not speak about and come to terms with the issues of race that pervade every instance of life in America, we are going to have an explosion. Maybe not during the Obama Administration (though it could be), but at some point in our collective future.

And it will be bad. For everyone.

But what does that quote make you think?

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