In what was supposed to be a post racial America, the white hoods might be in the closet, but new, creative ways of discrimination are now being used.
The first African-American president of the United States was elected nearly 6 years ago. And what was he greeted with? President Obama was greeted by the birther movement. People challenged the legitimacy of his Presidency from the beginning. He was the first President to have his citizenship challenged. Was that a coincidence or was it due to the fact he was a black man? The so-called birthers went as far as forging a document claiming that he was born in Kenya in a city that was not even a part of Kenya in 1961.
The fact is, he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. And folks, they have birth records on a birth roll and they do not have birth certificates as many states have that are mailed to the family of the new-born after the birth of a child. The state of Hawaii, broke their own privacy law, to try to end the made up controversy, by sending out proof of birth to those concerned.
The media is partly to blame for the longevity of this fabricated story by not telling the public that it does not matter where the baby is born if the mother is American. President Obama’s mother was born in Kansas, and the last time I checked that was still part of the United States. His mother was white, and I find it troubling that we even call him a black man. He is a man, a human being.
No other President has had his legitimacy questioned in the way people have done in President Obama’s case, but we are asked to believe that there is no racism involved. Really!Having been raised in the South during the 1950’s and into the early 1960’s, it was not unusual to hear white men in regular conversation mention the possibility that if some black man got ahead it must have been because he cheated. Even if you were a phenomenal athlete it took years before an African-American player could even find a room to stay for the night, if he were unlucky to find himself on the wrong side of town. Men would often throw off an offhand remark by claiming that black men had some physical advantage in sports. Most often you would hear how black men were lazy or shiftless.
Not only was the President’s birth challenged, all of his educational accomplishments were held suspect by some. Again, what other candidate for the highest office in the land has ever been under such scrutiny with doubts cast on Mr. Obama as to whether he had really earned his degree? I find it truly hard to believe that racism was not a motivating factor in the unique attacks under the guise of politics that has taken place.
Where is the hue and cry regarding Senator Ted Cruz, a prospective candidate for President in 2016.? He was born in Canada to a father who was born in Cuba and a mother who was born in Delaware. Where are the birthers now? No legal case has ever determined what a natural-born citizen is. Where is the drumbeat for a decision from the court to determine what the Constitution meant when it referred to the words a natural-born citizen. Is it because he is white or are we just exhausted by the nonsense?
Where was the chorus of concern when Senator McCain ran for President? He was born in the Canal Zone. The fact is all three of these gentlemen are legitimate and lawful citizens of the United States,
Racism still exists in America. De Jure racism that is by law. After the 1964, Civil Rights Act, legalized racism is now illegal. De facto racism still exists and it is much harder to prove. Like other laws which are defined by a person’s intent, it is much more difficult to prove. Numbers can indicate a likely scenario. This type of discrimination occurs not just in cases of racism but sexism as well and age discrimination.
The Roberts court seems to be ignoring our history of slavery in claiming that our Constitution was color blind. Really! I seem to remember that slaves were considered to be 3/5 of a human being. Maybe we should send him a copy of the Constitution with those words underlined. In all seriousness, though, it would be nice if in fact we did not have racism in our country, but that would require denial, denial of the facts.
In another decision regarding voting rights, the court decided that due to the success of the Voting Rights bill certain protections were unconstitutional. States quickly responded with new creative ways to keep people from voting. Perhaps the restrictions are not as obvious as the Jim Crow laws but they are in breach of the 15th Amendment. Now for example if you were born on a farm and a midwife performed the birthing, you might not have your birth certificate because your family did not record your birth. But there’s no racism in America!
If you have any doubts imagine yourself as a black man for a day or a week, put yourself in his or her shoes and see what happens. Imagine that you are trying to get a job, you have better qualifications but you still don’t get the job.
We have a long ways to go in our country before the scourge of discrimination is gone. We are not alone in the world in dealing with others unfairly. Europe has a history of placing the blame on whatever is going wrong on a group. In Spain, it might be the North Africans, or in Germany it might be the Turks that are blamed, but the point is that discrimination exists.
Education in the South is still distinctly unequal as more money goes into white schools than into minority schools. In New Orleans it is said that only 10% of students are integrated. Separate is not equal. The more separation we encourage the longer it will take for us to attain a society based upon the quality of a person’s character as opposed to looking at someone based upon the color of one’s skin. For those who live in the South I am reminded of a question that Jefferson pondered. Can the former slave holders ever live in peace with the former slaves? We are still hopeful of a promising answer to that question.
What is sad is how easily we have forgotten the hate and racism that existed in this country for most of our history.
I was raised in the South for most of my youth. I lived in North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and Georgia, up until I was 17 years old.
In New Orleans, every aspect of life was separated, schools were designated either for whites or colored. In the cavernous train station in New Orleans, water fountains were marked by signs for whites or colored only. I never went to school with anyone other than a white child. Churches were segregated as well. On Sunday the pastor would talk about God’s love and how we were all God’s children, but on Monday, things went back to normal. You’d hear how colored people were inferior, or if you were unlucky, you might hear the common curse, nigger, used. I distinctly remember when the schools were desegregated in 1960-61. These poor African-American children were accosted as they walked to school by some of the parents. Things were said that were awful as they were cursed and spat at. African-Americans were treated as sub-humans.
I, eventually moved to California, where I wound up going to college. The summer of my Freshman year, young people were organized to go to Mississippi, to register voters. I almost went, but my parents threatened to disown me if I did. I was too young and respectful to say no and go anyway. That was the summer that three young men were murdered in Mississippi for trying to register blacks to vote. I could have been one of those killed. The Klan and the White Citizen’s Councils throughout the South instilled fear into everyone, in attempting to shut down any racial equality. Often we take the right to vote for granted, but should never do that because a lot of people died in the South trying to gain the right to vote.
There were a lot of Mr. Ewell’s in the South. Ewell was the character in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Men full of hate against a race of people. Lynchings were prevalent for years in the Southern states. Acts of injustice were common. To believe that racism has disappeared is naive or perhaps individuals are just in a state of denial. We need to stay eternally vigilant in the fight for racial equality. Hard times foster insecurity and fear and there will always be people who seek to take advantage of that. We are a stronger as a nation when we work together for the common good of all. Our children will move us forward into a day when racial animosity will hopefully be but a faint memory, but in the meantime we need to work to make a reality, Jefferson’s words. We are all created equal with inalienable rights, those rights are not limited to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We need to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to be treated equal and have equal rights. Without an equality of rights we as a nation will never reach our potential, and we will never truly have liberty.