Your first response might be, “where have you been for the past four years?” I sincerely believe that Barrack Obama got elected because of a coalescing of the minority voter. Obama was able to bring out many voters who may not have otherwise voted. The question is, will those same voters come out again for him, or will he have to rely more heavily upon non-black America? This whole paragraph reeks of racism. Webster’s dictionary defines racism as, “1) The notion that one’s own ethnic stock is superior. 2) Prejudice or discrimination based on racism.” To that end I assert that all humans are necessarily racist. It is not a matter of choice, but of being a human being. Fortunately, most of us manage to overcome our racist tendencies.
I grew up during the beginnings of the civil rights movement. I was in the deep south when Martin Luther King was assassinated and was witness to the riots that followed. The ensuing years saw major cities in the U.S. experience race riots which often times resulted in the burning of large portions of those cities. For the most part, Americans accepted that the old racial policies were wrong and worked to make changes. But here in the north, Boston, a more insidious form of racism existed. It was a type of racism where white parents insured their children did not attend predominantly black schools, even if they were the closest schools. Boston’s response to this problem was to bus black children to schools in white neighborhoods. I was, of course, a huge failure.
Prior to 1980 the Democrat Party relied on what was called “The Solid South” to win presidential elections. Since the Civil War the southern states voted almost as a block for whatever Democrat was running. That all started to change with the Civil rights Act of 1964. Southerners had used Jim Crow laws to circumvent the Constitution in assure blacks of their rights. Worse, southern courts consistently upheld those laws. Northern Democrats were behind the 1964 civil rights act, and this started a shift of from conservative southern Democrats to the Republican party. While he was not a southern Democrat, Ronald Regan was head of the Democrat Party in 1960, and only shifted after the civil rights act. While no one can say for certain why any one person switches party when they do, timing certainly seems to be telling.
In 1970 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography, “I know it when I see it.” I think that applies to racism as well. The question is, is today’s Republican party racist? I think the answer to that is: “no!” But the hard question that has to be asked is: “Why is the Republican party unattractive to black America?” I think the answer to that is, the perception of the average black person is that the Republican party will not work in their best interests. Then you have to ask the average Republican his perception of the average black person. I do not think for a second that the average conservative is overtly racist but that does not exempt them from racism. The American population, according to the U.S. Census, is roughly 30% minority. But minorities represent only about 12% of the U.S. Congress according to Scholastic Magazine.
How do I know that? In 1968 I was sent by the army to receive my basic combat training at Fort Polk Louisiana. While there, I encountered a large number of blacks for the first time in my life. I had grown up in an entirely white Massachusetts town and only came into contacts with blacks when I spent my final two years of high school in New Jersey. When Martin Luther King was assassinated I was of the belief that he was a subversive radical. I cannot tell you exactly where I had gotten such an idea except to say that my perception was shaped by the society in which I lived. That society was colored by FBI reports which gave a very negative view of Dr. King to white America. That small amount of racism that existed in me is painful to me to this day. But it also tells me of how easy it is to miss the racism in our own person.
Racism in America today is not only alive but thriving as witness laws in southwestern states that allow police officers to question the legal status of a person based on his color, his native language, or his heritage. This shows me that Americans not only still allow racism, but are willing to make it somehow legally acceptable. If the blatant use of racism is acceptable how far a stretch is it for much more subtle forms of racism to exist.
Madison Avenue is renowned for its ability to sell anything, ice to Eskimos for example. They were so good at it that a law had to be passed that outlawed the use of subliminal messages in background music and other forms to get people to buy things. But that law does not forbid the use of extremely subtle racist language to be used in advertising. The selling of a president is all about advertising.
America does not want women in the senate, 51% of the population is represented in the U.S. Senate by 17% of its membership. And although 30% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is of a minority race, only 12% of the U.S. Congress is a minority, according to Scholastic Magazine.
And so where, you ask, is the racism in this year’s presidential election. The phrase “Obamacare” is absolutely racist. While it was Obama who championed health-care reform, it took 535 members of Congress to pass it. But what opponents of this reform have done is attach this black man’s idea to the negative connotation of welfare, and by extension, blacks on welfare. It does not matter that the two are unrelated, those opposed have necessarily made a link. At this point I quote Justice Stewart, “I know it when I see it.” I see it, and it disgusts me.
Blacks are the original American minority, not of their chosing, but still. We will at some future date have an Asian American run for president, an America who had parents born in India, born in Mexico, born in Iran. We Americans really need to get used to the idea that people are going to run for public office who are Americans first but who happen to have a background based outside the United States, and that is the way it is supposed to be in a truly free and equal United States.