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The stigma of racism seems to be a lasting legacy for America – no matter how we try to separate ourselves from it, mostly through our laws and our courts, we still can’t quite succeed. We fought a civil war to secure the freedom of those who would be enslaved and we passed a Civil Rights law in 1964 to further the freedom of many and legislate even further the concept put forth in our Constitution that all men are created equal.
Yet with all our efforts to overcome racism in America, it still seems to be a part of us as a nation. There may be several reasons why this is so and why we haven’t been able to put it into our past. The most obvious is that there are those in our society who decidedly stay ignorant to the idea of equality for all.
The problem with racism is that it’s passed down from one generation to another. When children who are racist because they were brought up by parents who are also racist and their parents were also brought up by racist, that racism doesn’t just end, it continues down through the generations. But of course, there are those who step away from their family’s racist past and become enlightened but it isn’t an easy stigma to break. But those who do so sometimes helps break that never-ending cycle of passing down old prejudice and hate from a time gone past.
When someone is raised from childhood to believe that another race is inferior, it takes a lot to break that chain of ideology. It is ideology because it is all based on a way of seeing things and a world view. It is also not limited to one race though it may be more prevalent within the white race. Or at the very least, racism among white people seems to cause a disadvantage to a lot of black people and Hispanics.
According to UrbanMinistry.org , Of 7,722 hate-crime incidents reported to the FBI in 2006, 2,640 were anti-black (FBI Uniform Crime Report).
Also Of 25- to 29-year-olds, 92.9 percent of whites completed high school, compared to 86.9 percent of blacks, and only 61.8 percent of Hispanics. In the same age group, 68.2 of whites completed 1 or more years of college, compared to 53.7 percent of blacks and 53.9 percent of Hispanics. Finally, 35.2 percent of whites completed 4 or more years of college, compared to 16.4 percent of blacks and 17.8 percent of Hispanics (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1997).
When Barack Obama won the White House in 2008, many wanted to believe that this meant that racism was no longer a problem in America but instead, Obama becoming president opened our eyes even more to the racism that exist in this country. Racism crawled out from beneath the surface and exposed itself and let us all know that it deeply exist in America. The kinds of attacks that have erupted over Obama’s presidency are unprecedented and very unlikely would any white president, male or female have to be subject to such inbred hatred.
Racism is hidden in many facets of our society. It shows itself when certain things disturb the status quo such as when Barack Obama became president. I believe that the formation of the Tea Party was because many white people who otherwise might be unseen within our society or at least not public, became angry that a black man became president. Those who would otherwise not be given a voice in public forums were encouraged to come out in masse and show up at town hall meetings, screaming their displeasure. Along with their presence came all the closed-mindedness and narrow views of those who would view our president – not as a man who was intelligent, charismatic and the winner of an election which not only gave him the total number of electoral votes to secure the presidency but also the majority of all our votes.
The fact that Obama won the presidency fair and square doesn’t matter to those who find the very idea of a black man in the White House an abomination. They are also those who are not likely to change their mind concerning Obama, no matter how good a job he does as president.
At least the Tea Party is the open and honest racism in our nation but there are also those who are latent racist, some even believing that just because they don’t like Barack Obama doesn’t mean they’re racist. Then of course, not everyone who dislikes is a racist but when that dislike is centered toward him with unreasonable conspiracies – such as the idea that he wasn’t born here, that he’s a secret Muslim – these kinds of attacks are racially motivated.
The racism of U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull ; the judge who made a private racist joke about Obama to some email friend is the kind that usually stays hidden. Maybe it has to do with the fact he’s a judge and being a racist can lead to some serious perceptions of fairness toward those of color. Then his racism was exposed and thereby undermining his ability to judge. There are still many of those in our society and in high up positions of power who are racist but stay well hidden. They’ve learned to hide their racism so that they can continue doing what they do and this is what has led to institutionalized racism.
The reason why blacks are 10.1 times more likely to enter prison for drug offenses is institutionalized racism. This racism is the most difficult to end because it stays hidden in those who are in control of our government and those who make our laws and interpret our laws and those who would judge, such as Judge Richard Cebull.
Justice suppose to be blind but when there are judges who secretly harbor racist notions toward people of color, then Justice is anything but blind. Maybe over time institutional racism will not persist. I don’t believe it will matter how many laws we make or laws we amend to address racism in our government bodies and our institutions, as long as there are those who hide their racism from the rest of us and yet use it to decide how they will treat those of different races. The only way we will know the truth is through the changing statistics and what they show us over time.
The end of racism and bigotry is the beginning of enlightenment and understanding. As individuals we can fight racism and bigotry by not being tolerant of intolerance. Some may think that has a conflict unto itself but I differ. We can be intolerant of intolerance by standing up for what we believe. We should expose those who hide behind their positions of power and we should stand up to those who would hide their racism behind closed doors and allow that racism to affect their public jobs in deliberating justice along with hiring and housing practices.
Even still, racism will continue as long as hate and ignorance is part of who we are.