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Scoot: Are we ready to have an honest conversation about race in America?

Reaction to the trial of George Zimmerman and the ‘not guilty’ verdict forces us to realize the ease with which ‘race’ becomes part of so many issues in America.  Both sides played the ‘race card.’  When I refer to ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’ in this blog – I am not referring to ALL ‘whites’ and ALL ‘blacks,’ so if you are not among those I’m referring to – don’t take it personally.

Going into Saturday evening, as the jury in the Zimmerman trial was deliberating I hosted a special Saturday edition of “The Scoot Show” to talk about the trial and the anticipation of the verdict.  Later that evening, I was at the House of Blues just before a concert when I got word that the jury verdict had come in.   In the four hours that followed, it was an interesting night, to say the least.

One thing that stood out to me as the calls came in was the recurring statement: “It’s time we had an honest conversation about race in this country.”  What I found so interesting about that was the fact that, as a nation, we have said that before – after the O.J. trial and after the trial of the 4 L.A. police officers accused of beating Rodney King.  Talking about having an honest conversation about race in America is a legitimate thing to bring up, but when are we actually going to have that conversation?

If something positive can come out of the emotional turmoil of the trial of George Zimmerman, it should be that we finally do have an honest conversation about race relations in America.  It’s true that much has changed in America since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, but the fallout from the Zimmerman trial proves that we still have a long way to go.  Admittedly, the tension between the races has progressed beyond the physical segregation of the races and the more blatant discrimination that was part of American society.  Today, racism has taken a more emotional form.

Whites and blacks (remember, I’m NOT referring to everyone) have become territorial and there is a tendency to keep score.  Consider things like, “If ‘they’ can say the N-word – then why can’t ‘we’?  If a disproportionate number of young black males commit crimes – then it’s a ‘black problem’.  If ‘whites’ get preferential treatment in the justice system or if unemployment is more of a problem for ‘blacks’ than ‘whites’ – then ‘blacks’ are not getting a fair chance in life.

We can never undo our past.  Slavery will forever be a scar on America’s face.  But since none of us today caused that scar or have been directly scarred – then isn’t it time we stop staring at the scar and look at the face?

The first thing we ALL have to admit is that we don’t really understand how each other feels because the origin and history of previous generations of ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’ were so different.  If ‘whites’ continue to hold a grudge because of things like affirmative action and if ‘blacks’ continue to blame ‘whites’ for slavery – we will never make progress toward living as Americans.  Those who complain about the “Miss Black America” beauty pageant cannot explain how the existence of the pageant adversely affects their lives.  So what does it matter if there is a “Miss Black America” pageant?  And those are just a few examples of how ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ are quick to express resentment toward each other.

The media, driven by the motive to attract audience, will always look for the news stories that quickly capture and hold the attention of the biggest audience.  And the shooting of Trayvon Martin contained some of the important elements of any good drama.  The story also reached back into a hurtful part of our past.  The media will also find ways to enhance certain aspects of hot-button news stories – even to the point of exposing complete bias on their part.

But as an audience – as Americans – we have to admit that we have allowed the media to manipulate us.  Those with a conservative ideology generally seek those media outlets and sources that fit their opinions and the same can be said of those with a liberal ideology.  Many Americans are unwilling to recognize that they are not open-minded and if ‘so-and-so’ said something, then it must be true.  Or, “I read it online – so it must be true.”  We all must recognize that the media, as well as many social and political leaders, have built reputations on advancing racial tension and will lose their status and money if and when race relations improve.

We have to ask ourselves if we are ready to have an honest conversation about race relations in America.  And if we are - then where does that conversation begin?  I would like to think that we have evolved as a country and a society of individuals to the point where we can start to be honest with each other and that means we all accept blame.

Any honest conversation about race relations must begin with the simple premise – we are ALL part of the human race first – then we are Americans and then we can subdivide into any number of groups.  But acknowledging and understanding that we are ALL part of the human race is the first and only place to begin the conversation.

Now – are you ready to have that honest conversation about race relations in America?


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Topics : Social Issues
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People : George ZimmermanRodney King




 
07/15/2013 8:02PM
Scoot: Are we ready to have an honest conversation about race in America?
Please Enter Your Comments Below
07/15/2013 10:14PM
Conversations about race in American
We are not ready. Particularly because of the gentleman commenting that you don't tell a ( black person ) to " get over it" because of slavery. We in modern times are no longer slave owner or slaves. But for making that comment it is why the races still do not agree. My ancestors in Puerto Rico were slaves along with the black slaves, but I don't STILL blame anyone for things that are in the Past. There is no reason too. So why are there (black) people still blaming the current (white) people. This is one of the MAIN reasons it is still an issue for black citizens as a whole...
07/16/2013 12:41AM
love your neighbor as yourself
Loving your neighbor is not just your neighbor across the street but anyone part of the global community. I do think we have progress in some areas of race relations but still remain polarized in many areas. Patronizing a person of any race is crippling. When something makes a person uncomfortable it might be an area that needs some self examination.
07/16/2013 8:36AM
Interesting and valid take
http://www.bondaction.org/content/article/37076/Black Racism Killed Trayvon
07/16/2013 8:44AM
Your recent show
Scoot, you recently had a topic about the severity of the "N" word vs. Cracka. Whether you think one is worse than the other has no merit. They are both terms of hatred and racism. One is acceptable and the other is not. White people are scared to bring up the issue of race in fear of being called a racist. We are forced to tip toe around the issue and not address the real issues. I posted the above article because there is alot of truth in it. I will follow with some of the problems we face.
07/16/2013 10:14AM
Everyone has to be ready
The root of racism is a lack of respect. To be respected we must first learn to respect ourselves. George Zimmerman killed on black youth and people are outraged. Where is that outrage when black youth are slaughtered on our streets. When the police arrest gang leaders for the assassination of multiple black youths, where is the outcry. As a race, African Americans need to respect themselves and we need to stop allowing the use of racially negative words by all people and rally against all violence.
07/16/2013 12:11PM
The OJ Celebration
Hypocrites. Some people actually cheered and celebrated when OJ Simpson was allowed to walk free after viciously slaughtering two people. There was no question about self defense or any other doubts, just a brutal killing and those cheering people knew he was guilty of that savage crime but they celebrated that verdict, they celebrated for a savage killer. Now the same people are protesting this verdict. Some people spend their whole lives trying to create racial issues. Hypocrites.
07/16/2013 2:11PM
Race Conversation
Just looking at some of the post here explain a lot. Blind assumptions are a major issue. "Where's the outrage when blacks kill each other"? Answer: We are outraged and our media outlets, churches and community forums discuss this. Where are you? You are more than welcome to come. Next although whites now aren't slave owners there are still a lot whose families made their fortune off the backs of slaves and through generations are still reaping benefits. Also as for OJ you really don't get it. Most celebrated Johnny Cochran as an African American Lead Attorney playing by rules set forth and won. No one celebrated the murder of Nicole or Goldman. The fact of the matter if you're not used to being ignored or having to be told by your parents how to act if stopped by police. It's hard to comprehend. NOLA definitely needs to have an honest conversation. Thanks for hopefully the beginning.
07/16/2013 2:22PM
NO ... you just let a caller on your show call Rush Limbaugh a racist ... he is far from it ...
Liberals need to keep blacks stirred up and believing they are victims to keep them under control.
07/16/2013 2:24PM
The Major Media is mostly racist in that they drive race fights ... they most
recently created a false narrative about George Zimmerman and stirred up hate and division ... they profit from it.
07/16/2013 2:34PM
Stevie Wonder is more blind than we first thought ...
Stevie Wonder is more blind than we first thought ...
07/16/2013 2:43PM
Liberalism is a CANCER that must be defeated.
Liberalism is a CANCER that must be defeated.
07/16/2013 4:08PM
A Discussion Regarding Race
I grew up in CA were there always seemed to be a mixture of races. I don't know if it was just never discussed or it wasn't much of an issue, but racism never seemed to be an issue. We accept each other for who we are and how we treat each other. Is my head in the sand on this issue?
07/16/2013 5:33PM
Honest conversation about race?
Scoot, you asked at what point do we begin the discussion about race? It should begin with the 1969 federal mandatory desegregation of schools--that was the year I student taught a half white half black senior high school English class in Tangipahoa Parish. While all of the white students were at grade level (A, B or C students), five of the black students could not read or write at all, three were at elementary levels, one was at junior high level and one was on grade level. There was no guidance given on how to help the illiterate and below grade level students--not by the school, district, or federal government. As a secondary level teacher, I had not been trained to provide basic language skills in reading and writing, but did my best to bring in albums of Shakespeare's plays and poems, so that the students could gain some insight into his works, even though most could not write answers to test questions, and could not pass senior English. During the '70's all across the South, the same situation that the black students escaped from in previously segregated schools was merely recreated with the public school systems becoming nearly all black as white students fled to private schools, along with most white teachers. Mandatory desegregation was a total failure as you can see in today's urban school districts all across the U.S. that are predominately black without adequate resources to properly educate students--the same situation that existed prior to the federal government's mandate to desegregate. You might ask the question: Why don't white parents want to send their children to predominately black public schools? The answer in the 1970's was that they did not want the standards of their child's education lowered, which would have to happen in order to enable black students to pass their classes. Look at the record for New Orleans public schools as an example. It took 30 years for the entire school system to crash and burn because there was no way to fix it, not even with a State take over. The proof of that, or so I hear, is that 90% of schools in the district will be charter schools this coming year, and not under the public school system banner any longer. The problem in education throughout the South appears to be a racial problem on the surface, but the real problem goes much deeper than that. The deeper problem is one of moral, ethical, and work values that many whites and blacks do not share. If you can encourage both races to discuss this issue honestly, you might make headway in peeling the onion of racial differences and issues of conflict between whites and blacks in order to get the truth out in the open, which at this point, I don't think is possible because the subject is inflammatory. The other main problem concerns the economic disparities that exist for the black community since the women are generally the caretakers and bread winners for their families and not the men, who appear more interested in killing each other to gain respect on the street instead of holding a decent job and financially providing for their families. All of the issues mentioned are not problems the white community can solve for the black community. It's clear that the black community cannot solve them either as their issues with education, middle class values, and economic disparities seem to be getting worse and worse each year. I just read that black on black homicides in the last few decades have now exceeded the death toll of all the soldiers from WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Middle Eastern wars to the tune of 267,000 plus murders of blacks by blacks in the United States. Just take a look at New Orleans with Mother's Day Massacres, not only on that recently past day, but for all the mothers who lost their babies to stray bullets in their front yards. When is the black community going to take responsibility for their problems and solve them, instead of transferring their anger to other issues, blaming others outside of their community for the problems they will not own. Nothing will change if this continues to happen. Over the last 40 plus years many blacks have been able to escape their "crabs in the bucket" dilemma and make it to the middle class, out of the vicious cycle of poverty. These are the people who need to lead the rest of their brothers and sisters out of the bucket. They have the answers on how it can be done because they have accomplished it for themselves and know the way. Let them speak on your show, Scoot, so they can offer some insight into how they made great changes for themselves and their families. I think they will tell you this issue was not about race. I think they will tell you it was about getting a good education, which led to a good job or profession, a change in the moral ethical value system that sustains poverty to one that sustains a middle class lifestyle. I think they will tell you it was about filling up enough to give something back to the community and no longer holding their hands held expecting to get something without giving anything anything back. The problem you refer to appears to be one of race, but it goes far, far deeper than surface color of one's skin. I say for those who have courage, let the discussion begin and the sooner the better.
07/16/2013 10:56PM
The Plantation
Liberalism keeps a lot of people on "the plantation" and not just blacks. Once I read in a book about anger is some of the angriest people you will ever meet are protesters showing up at protests for certain causes.
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