Post racial? Really?

I wish I could say I was stunned by Chris Matthews saying that President Barack Obama is “post racial,” and that for an hour, he (Matthews) forgot he was a black man. But I am not.
I am, though, fairly irritated that someone who is supposed to be intelligent would say something so stupid, and yes, I do mean stupid. And I am irritated that white people in general seem to want to claim that this is a post racial society. Are you kidding me?
I remember the day after Obama won the White House. All the major media were saying that his election signaled the beginning of post racial America. Richard Cohen, of the Washington Post, might have been the first journalist on record to call Obama “post racial,” saying the day after the election, “we have overcome.”
An article in the Wall Street Journal said that the president’s election said that his win made it possible to “put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country.” And Rudolph Giuliani said that his election moved us beyond the idea of race and racial separation and unfairness.
None of those statements are true, though I know the writers wish they were. White people seem to want racism to die instantly, without viable work being done, and then dance in the streets singing “racism is dead” like the munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz” danced in glee after a house fell on the wicked witch of the north.
It is not going to happen.
America was built on racism, and was a product of a Constitution and Declaration of Independence that wrote racism into our very fabric. Black people were only 3/5 of a person, according to our highest legal document. Indians were totally ignored. The United States was founded on the principle that all white men are created equal. It was called democracy, but it was a very peculiar and specific type of democracy where capitalism would make sure that white people with money maintained power.
And though the Constitution was written at a time when the church and therefore the Gospel, exerted big influence on America’s people, that influence, unfortunately, supported racism and even participated in it.
We therefore live in a culture of racism, a culture which has been bred, honed and fine-tuned over the years. Egalitarianism is not an issue; all people were not SUPPOSED to be treated equally. Capitalism, combined with racism, helped form our country, and those two “isms” are still alive today. They will not die easily, if at all.
What is post-racial anyway? How can a person be post racial? I have no answer for that, but a post racial society is so far from what we are that it is laughable that anyone would say anything different. A post racial society might be defined as a society where race does not matter. That is not the United States. Nor are we a society where power and wealth are not tied to race, or a society which is color blind. All of those are possible definitions of a post racial society, and none of them are applicable to the United States.
Why do I say that? Because it is still easier for white people than black to get jobs, black people still receive less comprehensive health care than do whites. Schools in black neighborhoods are still understaffed and lacking in adequate resources. Young black boys in school with behavior problems are still treated differently than white boys with the same behavior issues. Police are still guilty of racial profiling and are still quick to shoot first and ask questions later. Black people who use crack cocaine still get greater prison sentences than do white people who use cocaine… The list goes on. We are not post racial, and cannot be, as long as those situations, and more, are our reality.
Why are white people so anxious to say that the race problem is gone? I think it is because they are unable to own their culture’s history. It is not pretty. It is, as a matter of fact, downright disturbing. There has been economic, judicial, and physical domestic terrorism practiced in this country. It is easier to deny it than to own it. The problem of racism in America is made bigger because white people deny its existence and black people, rightfully so, hold anger because of that denial.
White people seem to want the problem to just go away, but no problem dissipates without acknowledging its existence and then working to fix what’s wrong … and what is fundamentally wrong is that the cries of African Americans has never been acknowledged as justified … PLUS, the white culture has continually, over the years, added more racist behavior on top of an already sad and sordid past.
The situation then is one of a trust broken, a trust by African Americans that they would be treated as equal human beings with dignity but finding that not to be the case. America’s whites have continually used their privileged status to get what they want, at any cost, to any people. Its treatment of American Indians, wiping out whole Indian cultures and relegating survivors to reservations is appalling. America’s whites have continually violated what should be a given: the belief that all peoples have worth.
They have heaped insult upon injury, leading to despair on the part of some African Americans, and anger with many to most. They have not been their brothers’ keeper, but instead have been their brothers’ brutalizers. Egalitarianism was never a goal of white people. And so, African Americans have worked for acceptance yet never found it. African Americans have been good enough to fight in America’s wars but not good enough to receive decent treatment when they got home. African Americans have been used, their gifts violated and exploited, and then kicked to the curb. And white Americans have never acknowledged they have done that.
The result to this white denial, as I said, has been black anger. We have skirted around the issue, but not dealt with it. In a relationship (and this is about relationship) where trust has been violated, it takes a long time once the problem has been owned to fix things; if the problem is never acknowledged, the relationship invariably fails. There has never been healing between the races because the problem has never been owned by white America. Black people have succeeded not because of white people, but in spite of black people, but the hurt has never gone away.
As I write, I think of one fact that is as sad as it is inconceivable to me, and that is that many African Americans are saying we are in a post racial society as well. The whole racist culture has produced people who have sought to assimilate, and deny who they are. There are still many African Americans who hate themselves and would like nothing better than for the problem of racism to disappear, and they become “one” with those who have oppressed them for over 400 years. That a people cannot be happy with themselves is a sad fact of our still being in a “racist” and not a “post racial” society.
The term “post racial” implies that there was a “pre racial.” We have never been a pre racial society. “Post” means that something has come after an event. A woman can be pre menopausal, menopausal .. and only then, post menopausal. The pre menopausal part of her life is generally OK; being menopausal is traumatic for some, uncomfortable for most … but once it is done and a woman is “post menopausal,” she has suffered and endured the process of changing and generally has relief and high quality of life.
America has never endure the process of changing from a racial society, a society where racism has been at the helm for far too long.
Surely Chris Matthews and others realize that.
It’s going to take more than the election of an African American to make this country post racial.
Just a candid observation.

One thought on “Post racial? Really?

  1. Change comes when we make an honest admission of the problem. Until those who wear race blinders remove them and admit the obvious, change is not possible. A very interesting phenomenon occurred immediately following Barak Obama taking the oath of the presidency of our fine country. Those who had previously worn the racial blinders I speak of took them off long enough to see that a black man actually won the “white house”. After they confirmed this fact they put them back on and went back to work, church, school etc. But they went angry and scared. These are people we work with on a daily basis; the people who teach our children, police our neighborhoods and make political decisions on our behalf. After the realization that the white house was not so white anymore set in, fear forced them to remove the race blinders more frequently.
    A perfect example of one getting caught without wearing their race blinders is Congressman Joe Wilson. He took off his race blinders for an instant, just long enough to see a black man addressing congress and the guy went totally ballistic yelling “liar” to the president of the United States of America. Fellow republicans scrambled to help shield him from the repercussions of the blatantly racist attack before he composed himself and apologized. But aside from the apology, anyone in their right mind knows that had President Obama been a white man, Joe Wilson would have been escorted out of the Capitol Building in shackles and a straight jacket. His attempt to discredit, humiliate and unseat President Obama went virtually unpunished with little more than a slap on the wrist, which behind closed doors probably really amounted to a slap on the back from the good old boy network. Post Race? Ahh, yeah, I don’t think so.
    The children’s hospital located in my old neighborhood has been a pillar of that community for years but does little to address the issues of the people who live there. Over the past 30 years I have watched that hospital grow from a very small structure to something that resembles a small university. The residents of the community (mostly black) have poured millions upon millions of dollars into that hospital allowing it to thrive and grow. Yet, when a black woman comes into the emergency room scared, looking for her son who has been a victim of a gunshot wound, staff judge her parenting abilities because of the color of her skin before they allow themselves to see the intensity of her pain. On some days, one of the buildings on the campus emits a smokestack cloud of smoke over the neighborhood with mist so thick that it is seen from miles away. That’s environmental racism if I ever saw it and would never happen in one of our less black neighborhoods.
    People can continue to deny racism but doing so only adds to the dis-ease of a people that, like Dr. Smith already noted, are angry that there has never been an admission of fault. As long as this occurs we will continue to see low birth rate babies born into these communities, poor educational opportunities available and a continual rise in crime that stretches outside the borders of “the hood”. When this happens, those who wear racial blinders will take notice because the affects of a disenfranchised people will hit closer and closer to their own communities interrupting the flow and coordination of their well manicured lawns.

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