Scorpio’s World

Thoughts on Politics, Race, and Middle Earth

“FDH ‘Opinion'”

Posted by scorpiomkm on May 5, 2007

     The Felicity Daily Herald
   “All the news that’s fit to print; and a whole lot more”

                                 Opinion

A racist past that haunts us today

Commentary by Yolanda Young Fri May 4

As Jamestown continues the commemoration of its founding in 1607 – this week highlighted with a visit by  Queen Elizabeth II – the complexity of its slave legacy still frustrates race relations.

I experienced this firsthand a few years ago while staying at a nearby resort. While waiting for what seemed to me an inordinate amount of time to be seated at an outdoor restaurant, I grew suspicious that I was being snubbed because of my race. I had noticed several empty tables and the absence of other blacks. Perhaps, I thought, we weren’t welcome here. After all, this was where a Dutch man sold 20 “negars” and began the institution of slavery in this country. Just as I was getting ready to make a fuss, I turned around and noticed a middle-aged white couple waiting as well. Finally, another couple arrived and claimed a table. Turns out, the place was self-seating.

I was reminded of this incident recently when cries of racism erupted around a teacher sex scandal in Clinton, S.C, where two white teachers have been charged with having sex with their black male students. After the teachers were each released on bails in excess of $100,000, some blacks argued that this amounted to a double standard. Lonnie Randolph, the state NAACP president, said that if a black man had been accused of perpetrating such an offense against a white female, the punishment would have been different. Randolph’s mistrust is understandable, though misguided. The town has a “white’s only” legacy, a Ku Klux Klan museum and a store that sells Confederate flags. But in other high-profile cases involving white teachers and white male students, bail was typically granted.

What such mistrust shows is that it’s not easy reconciling this racist past. Virginia’s slave descendants, and blacks nationwide, must still contend with knotty racial dynamics. Millions of Africans were subjected to vicious treatment, and that history echoes today. Radio host Don Imus‘ recent reference to Rutgers University’s female basketball players as “nappy-headed hos” reminds us that such callousness lingers.

Even so, the nation continues to take steps of contrition. Coinciding with Jamestown’s celebration, Virginia’s General Assembly passed a unanimous resolution expressing “profound regret” for the enslavement of millions. North Carolina recently did the same.

These are small steps toward answering the questionhistorian Paul Johnson posed in A History of the American People: “Can a nation rise above the injustices of its origins and, by its moral purpose and performance, atone for them?”

An equally important question is whether a people, once tormented and mistreated, can ever give that nation the benefit of the doubt.

Yolanda Young is author of On Our Way to Beautiful.

                                                   ********************

It’s hard for me to wrap my Mind around the idea ‘why’ ANY GROUP of People would feel the NEED to discriminate, oppress, or wish Second Class Citizenship on anybody. It really is. For as we are NOW well within the Twenty-first Century ….. blacks, whites, brown and yellow People are well beyond the OVERT examples of Racism in this country ~ yet the residue of the ‘Bad Old Days’ very much remains with us. (as is Racism’s COVERT twin brother)

Old Habits are hard to shed. But unless WE stop thinking in terms of ‘Them’ and/or ‘Those People’, just because we dress up ‘Jim Crow’ by calling him now ‘Mr. James Sparrow’ won’t eradicate THIS NATION’S most debilitating disease.

National Health Insurance, Pension Protection, adequate Housing, Fair & Equal Pay for equal Work, rising Energy Costs, Homeland Security, Transportation and Intrastructure Issues, the War in Iraq, Immigration …. are Issues ‘All’ Americans share in Common; yet unfortunately we wish to view these issues through only ‘White Eyes’ or from the ‘Black Perspective’. Too, Americans of Hispanic Ancestry are ‘looked at’ as being ‘Illegal’; or STILL many of our Asian Brothers & Sisters are perceived as ‘untrustworthy‘, selfish, disloyal, and all the many other stereotypes that flowed freely since the first boatloads of Chinese came here to work in the gold fields of California (or following the attack at Pearl Harbor).

We shake our heads at the Sunnis, Shiia, and Kurds unable to ‘Come Together’ in Iraq: yet are white, black, brown, red,and yellow Peoples here in the States that far off from isolating themselves from each other? And from all this “We’re a Christian Nation” sloganeering proffered by White Christian Fundamentalists ~ one being nonwhite or non-Christian often faces an American where this Concept literally means and is interpreted as:

                             America: For WHITES ONLY!

                           (*preferably White Males at that)

If I were to live another 100 years in America, I’m almost positive I’d STILL be reading articles like the above. Telling about how ‘Racism in America’ is Alive & Well, despite the seemingly forward Progress (?) being made.

Well. I would bet that unless America changes her tune, this Land will look more like a fractured and splintered Iraq rather than that ‘Shining City on a Hill’ we ALL think it could be.

Just my Opinion.

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