Saturday, November 15, 2008

I had really hoped we were past this...

... but honestly I'm not surprised that we're not.

MSNBC posted this article about some of the racial threats and crimes that have happened across the country. The writer commented on the "stubborn racism that remains in America."

What an understatement! I would hardly describe racism as being stubborn. Ignorant, hateful, bigotted, detestable, perhaps, but definitely not stubborn.

I was hopeful that our country was finally reaching a point at which we could talk more openly about the differences (and similarities) between people. It has been more than 40 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed, so apparently our country has been "fine" on racial isues since then. Obviously we all know that isn't the case, as there have been major blow-ups surrounding race since then, but no one seems to be willing to talk about these issues! President-elect Obama seems comfortable talking about his racial background and is in a prominent position to begin larger discussions about racism in our country. The problem, as highlighted in the article, is that there are so many people who harbor these feelings and aren't willing to talk about them.

It would be really great if our country could make some big strides in the area of equality for everyone over at least the next four years. Let's blow these issues open and get down to the heart of the matter. There are social justice educators across the country who are working primarily with our nation's college students, but that only addresses a small portion of our population. The "diversity" initiatives in our K-12 education systems apparently aren't working as well as they should be, especially when students don't confront people of other races/ethnicities/religious backgrounds/sexual orientations/etc. until much later in life, perhaps when they go to college or enter the workforce. I obviously don't have all of the answers, but I know that these are issues that continue to plague our society. As someone who works in higher education, I can only hope that not all of the people who have made the remarks or done the actions described in the article are punished punitively or forced to attend diversity trainings, but rather that this is used as a teachable moment from which many people can learn.

At least this person thinks we have made some progress.

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