Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Race in America I

Based on a recent story reported in the news, I found myself doing a bit of self exploration concerning racism. Obviously this is a very emotional and personal issue with many people, both the protagonists and the antagonists. Opinions and feelings run deep. I wanted to spend some time wading in with a few thoughts of my own.

In an episode that repeats itself time and again, a celebrity or politician or public figure makes a blatantly racist statement and when that statement surfaces in public, they then immediately act to distance themselves from their own words. Typically the first level of defense is the trite explanation designed to deflect any spotlight of negativity, "I am not a racist". Many examples can be given.

Justin Barrett (police officer) : Referred to a black Harvard University professor as a "banana-eating jungle monkey" followed by "I am not a racist. I did not intend any racial bigotry, harm or prejudice in my words.".

Mel Gibson (actor) : During a DUI arrest he said to the officer "F**king Jews ... Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?". Apologies and excuses ensued.

Michael Richards (actor) : Talking to a black man that heckled him "Shut up! 50 years ago we'd have you upside down with a f**cking fork up your ass." Followed by "I'm not a racist, that's what so insane about this."

So, where do we go from here?

(Part 1 of a 3 part series)