He deserves his anger, but for the rest of the nation to accept it, we have to face the reality of what black Americans have faced, and it's not a comfortable or a pretty thing to confront.
This is really the only thing I have a problem with in what you've said. I don't disagree that he deserves his anger, and I can personally accept that, but honestly there's no way for me to understand what those people were going through. Maybe I'm not quite getting what your trying to say. I think if people step out of their own prejudices and use a bit of reason that acceptance can be achieved without actually having to face the injustices for themselves.
Something else this country needs to get over: "Black people never enslaved anyone." Well, technically that's not true. Most of the slaves who originally were transported here from Africa were sold into slavery by other black people. But that's beside the point. Slavery is a dead issue in this country. There are some isolated incidents, true, but to be using that now is like saying the sins of the father are inherited by the son. We need to move forward and get over this whole race issue. Yes, there were injustices done. A great many. Some are still being done to this day, but not nearly as it was even ten years ago. Nothing irritated me more than former President Clinton apologizing for slavery... hell, those people were all dead and gone years ago. He didn't enslave them. I didn't enslave them. Hell, my grandparents didn't enslave them.
I think that some of the views being pushed by these so-called civil rights spokesmen (Jesse Jackson and White among them) are actually tainting how the country looks at black Americans. My big problem is that all too often they try to make a mountain out of a molehill by making race a key aspect in any situation. I'm not saying that they aren't right on occasion (a la Jena Six), but sometimes these claims go a bit overboard.
That's well-said, rainshadow. It's very difficult for someone who hasn't experienced both personal and structural discrimination (meaning person-to-person discrimination vs. discrimination that has been made part of how a community or nation functions) to completely grasp the impact of it, but, as you express, there are a lot of people in the United States who feel that it doesn't exist or what does still exist is a matter of isolated incidents that ought not be considered to have much impact. They forget how recent the lynchings were, that we're talking a single human lifetime. My mother grew up in one of the many towns in the US where a black person would be arrested and often treated abusively in custody if found within the city limits after the sun had set. It is living memory for her, just as it is for Reverend White, and the threat of the noose was kept alive within the past year and a half. If that doesn't indicate that the sins of earlier generations linger, I don't know what could.
It requires a deliberate decision to step outside your comfort zone and ask yourself how you would feel if you had to leave the town where you work before the sun set because you had a certain color of hair or eyes or were above or below a certain height. It takes work to ask yourself how you would feel about living in fear because the color of your skin made you less than human in the eyes of the people with legal, economic and political power.
Yes, slavery per se has ended, but racism, one of the legacies of slavery has not. Investigation into structural barriers to black voting continue, even within the past few months. I was in Atlanta a little over a year ago and heard white police officers calling black hotel employees (in suits, by the way) 'boy' and asking for a shoe shine. The legacy of racism is not old news, and yes, experiencing it the amount that I would say virtually all black leaders in the United States have... how can that not affect how you view the world? I've experienced discrimination for religion and for my gender. I know that current statistics show that I will earn approximately 30% less over the course of my lifetime than a man with my equivalent education doing the equivalent work. I can assure you that it affects how I view the world. How can anyone expect that the bitterness and anger could universally be put aside? Isn't that asking something like saintly forbearance? If white America wants black America to forget, the least we owe is an apology for slavery, for lynching, for all the petty and terrible cruelties that we have inflicted, that we have allowed to happen, and that we would rather forget because we think it was a long time ago. Slavery may be dead, but racism remains very much alive, if often more carefully expressed than it used to be.
I won't go into detail about the issue of who enslaved whom, but it's more complicated a picture historically than that blacks brought other blacks to the white outposts. There's a whole set of economic, social and political dynamics surrounding early European trade in Africa, and a lot of what happened was a result of instability caused by the arrival of Europeans, by the Mediterranean slave trade, by European weapons and so forth. It's a huge topic, and a complex one, but suffice it to say that there was a mingled influence among European contact, Mediterranean contact and the socio-political structure in sub-Saharan Africa.
Another problem I have is Affirmative Action. I don't have a problem with this because I'm a 27-year-old white man. I have a problem with this because AA insinuates to the average black would-be college student or job holder that they cannot get a job or a scholarship without it. Personally I'm all for AA remaining intact while better solutions are sought (which would obviously be easier said than done), but I feel such programs are as much as a detriment as they are helpful. To me it's just that our society is painting a picture that if you are a minority in this country you can't make these advances on your own. We need to move away from that state of mind. I know plenty of young black people who have fought tooth and nail to get ahead in this country. We are all to blame, every single one of us.
Like I said, it's a disgrace that race is even an issue. It would almost be worth it for Obama to be president it would help take us one step closer to finally discarding it with the rest of the garbage. Unfortunately, that may never be the case.
We can only hope this is the case. I will probably always be a little pessimistic on the issue. I grew up in a town where there was one black family, and while they were a terrific family and wonderful members of the community, racism was pretty evident. EDIT: Concerning how some members of the community spoke about them.
Is AA without problems? No. You're right. It would be better if there were an alternative, or if it weren't necessary at all, but the placement statistics and comparative wage earnings for equivalent work and equivalent education tend to suggest otherwise. But, in a way, you prove the case that racism is real and current. Since it's real and current, we need to face it, confront it and deal with it, not turn away or try to minimize the reality of how pervasive it truly is, or tell ourselves that the worst of it was so long ago that it shouldn't matter anymore. Not when the living memory of someone still a young adult contains clear evidence of racism. When there is racism among adults, young people often absorb it. When there is anger over racism, young people often absorb that, too. Cultural change is hard, and so I don't expect racism to go away within my lifetime.
On a lighter note, and something that was a bit of a switch, as I was attended a nearby JuCo... the most racism I ever heard in that place was actually just one comment, coming from a black football player (who wasn't exactly the brightest bulb to begin with) who said "I hate all these white guys" while he was walking through the hall with his buddies (big dudes, too... hell, they were football players, most of whom wound up playing D1 ball). To his credit he looked incredibly embarrassed when he bumped into me in the hall right after having said that. I was an RA (resident assistant) at the time. I told him to save his hostility for the field... he was going to need it because the team sucked that year. It broke the tension and I actually got a big smile. Never had a problem with that guy before or after. For what it's worth, they won their first and only conference game of the season that Saturday night, and he thought that was hilarious after our confrontation.
Now there's the hope, that laughter and smiles and seeing each other as human beings, not icons of blackness or whiteness, will gradually chip away at the barriers in perception that make racism possible. But had some other person been standing where you were, that situation could have become an ugly confrontation, adding new bricks to the barrier.
There aren't easy answers, but it is my belief that a good step would be to respect the pain and anger black Americans feel instead of saying, as those old white men did on TV, that such pain and anger disqualifies all black Americans for public office.