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

Reaction to the ‘not guilty’ verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman has become a flashpoint in the national conversation about race relations in America.  It may prove to be the ‘tipping point,’ if an ‘honest’ conversation about race relations actually begins.  We must first be honest with ourselves and admit we don’t like to talk about things that make us feel uncomfortable – and honesty about race relations makes America feel uncomfortable.    

Many have been critical of President Obama for addressing the Zimmerman verdict and the ‘Justice for Trayvon’ rallies over the weekend, but shouldn’t it be the responsibility of ANY president to make an effort to bring Americans together at a time when an event divides our country?  The very fact that this president has been so criticized every time he speaks is another example of why it’s time to have an honest conversation about race.  For those who argue that Obama is not ‘black’ – he is only half ‘black’ – is unfair because as Americans, WE have labeled people who are half ‘black,’ like Barak Obama, as ‘black,’ not half ‘black.’   Throughout our history, this country has placed anyone like Barak Obama in the black category, so it is wrong to discredit him when he speaks from a black perspective.

There is nothing unfair about criticizing Obama’s policies, but to deny him a black perspective because he is only half black, when our world has traditionally seen people like him as black, only emphasizes how quickly white America plays the race card, too.

The response from Americans since the Zimmerman verdict should be convincing evidence that it is time to have that honest conversation about race relations in America.  As a nation, we have said that it’s time to do that before – after the O.J. trial and after the trial of the 4 L.A. police officers accused of beating Rodney King, but that conversation never continued long enough to bring people together. 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?

For any real progress to be realized in this conversation, 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 : Barak ObamaGeorge ZimmermanRodney King




 
07/21/2013 9:33PM
Scoot : Are we ready to have an ‘honest’ conversation about race in America?
Please Enter Your Comments Below
07/22/2013 9:21AM
sounds about right
White people rioting!! Posted by Michael Becker on Jul 18, 2013 in Culture, Media If you missed the news coverage we’re here to fill you in. A neighborhood watch man, an adult carrying a concealed weapon, shot and killed an unarmed teenage boy and was just found not-guilty by a jury after two days of deliberations. “I just want to say thank you to the people who believed in me, who stood by me,” [the shooter] said following the verdict. “I still have my regrets for the [young boy’s] family; it’s still an unfortunate situation for them. I am happy that at least this chapter is over.” As deliberations dragged on over two days and the jury asked for testimony to be read back, [the shooter] admits he didn’t know how it would all turn out. “I was nervous of course,” he said. “You never know what direction this whole thing is going to turn, so I have no idea. But it worked out and I feel that justice (was) served today.” [The boy’s] family members say justice wasn’t served. They say [he] was murdered in cold blood, that he’d never been in trouble and [the shooter] acted as judge, jury and executioner. “The message is that we can all go out and get guns and feel anybody that we feel is threatening us and lie about the fact,” said [the boy’s] father. “My son never threatened anybody. He was a gentle child, his nature was gentle, he was a good person and he was never, ever arrested for anything, and has never been in trouble. He was 16 years and four months old, and he was slaughtered.” [The shooter] says he acted in self defense when he confronted [the boy]… Perhaps the reason you missed the story is because here are pictures of the shooter and the victim… Scott RoderickDead White Kid The one on the left, in the hoodie, is Roderick Scott, the shooter. The one on the right is the dead kid, Christopher Cervini. I’m shocked you missed President Obama’s statement when he found out about the shooting, “If the white half of me had a son he would have looked like Christopher Cervini.” You might have even missed the uproar surrounding the Department of Justice having their Community Relations Services group in Rochester, NY organize demonstrations of white upstate New Yorkers demanding a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate this cold blooded murder of a gentle white boy by a black man wearing a hoodie. Actually, I’m not shocked that you missed all that news since it wasn’t really news outside of Rochester, NY. Here’s a summary of what happened. Scott says he acted in self defense when he confronted Cervini and two others saying they were stealing from neighbors cars. He told them he had a gun and ordered them to freeze and wait for police. Scott says he shot Cervini twice when the victim charged toward him yelling he was going to get Scott. Based on what I’ve been able to find, the jury reached the correct verdict in Scott’s case just as they did in the Zimmerman trial. I can understand how Christopher Cervini’s dad could say what he said just like I can understand how Trayvon Martin’s parents can say what they say. It’s called “grief”. It’s also called “denial”. I also understand why we haven’t heard a word from President Obama, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the NAACP or anything about expanded investigations from the Department of Justice. That is called “hypocrisy”.
07/22/2013 11:14AM
Not Just Race as an Injuctice.
In 1866, the 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution was passed, guaranteeing citizenship to the former slaves and changing them in the eyes of the law from 3/5 of a person to whole persons. Then, in 1869, the 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote to black men, with most women of all races still unable to vote. I'm a woman who has worked in traditionally men's jobs. Equality doesn't exist there either. While I can't relate to the issues of a black person and what they have to live with in regards to racism, I can relate to prejudice simply because of who/what you are.
07/22/2013 11:17PM
the elephant and the mouse in the room
A conversation about race is important but serves as an easy substitute for avoiding the number one problem to young blacks which is not whites killing blacks but the weekly slaughter of blacks killing blacks. Maybe black leaders ought to be having a call to action for that issue. It's tragic.
07/23/2013 8:37AM
Half black
Hey if Obama is black ( because he is half white ) then Zimmerman is Hispanic because he is half white . It serves blacks to call him white.
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