Does racism still exist in America?

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During the winter break, our family watched the movie 42, the story of Jackie Robinson and his rise to the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African-American to make it to professional baseball. I had mixed feelings about this movie prior to watching. I want my boys to understand meaningful moments in African-American history, but I want to protect them from the ills of racism, and I knew they would witness the raw racism of that time, and, sadly, I know they will encounter it at some point in their lives. Maybe not the boiling hatred that my father coped with or the obnoxious comments I endured, but the subtle slights or perceived judgments passed down to them because people are clueless to their own biases. One of the burdens in sending my children to school was wondering when someone was going to call them a nigger and how I was going to explain the meaning of a word steeped in hatred, oppression, and other adjectives that can never truly define it. Today, I witness racism fading with diverse groups of friends playing together and families of every race and culture coexisting in love. I see it losing its grip with each generation. With more than eight years in the school system, I have not had to console any of my boys because of scenarios similar to those of my own childhood. I can only hope that our conversations about the beauty of their skin, the blessing of their intelligence, and the incredible value of their worth, because they are unique, will give them the confidence to speak up for themselves, stand up for others, and respect all. As I was writing this last night, I hesitated to continue, because, well, there are some that feel this is a moot point; that either racism no longer exists or that people will not change. And then I was reminded of a young man that divided a nation again on this very issue, Trayvon Martin.
Michael McAuliff, a writer for the Huffington post shares and questions also if racism in America still exists, given past and current examples, with Trayvon Martin in the center of this question. See the link below to this article.
So, do you feel racism still exists? How do you address this issue with your students and children? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. Your time and insight on this issue can benefit others.

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/01/2013-racism_n_4525622.html

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11 thoughts on “Does racism still exist in America?

  1. Tiffany says:

    I know that racism still exists. I see it daily in my personal life and on the television. The latest being the duck dynasty guy saying that “the blacks” were happy working in the fields! I can tell you that my grandmother, grandfathers, and grandmother were not happy working in any field. There was a difference in a black man and a white man working in the fields. The white man didn’t have to fear that he was going to be lynched or whipped by looking at a white girl inappropiately. Then there was the “Santa is not black thing”. We see it everyday when someone talks about our President. All some people see is his darker skin. They seem to forget that his mom is Caucasian. I don’t think they want to see that. How hurtful that must be to his “other” side of his family. My children wanted to believe that racism didn’t exist, because they went to school with Caucasian kids who seemed to be accepting of them. I just told them that it does exist and prepared them to not have their feelings hurt when it they first witness it. I let them know that eventually someone would show their true self. I don’t think that racism will ever be eradicated, but I do think that our children should be prepared for it when it happens to them. I don’t think that we should be in denial about the subject.

    • Tiffany thank you for sharing your experience with your own children. Even though race relations have gotten better, it is sad that we do have to have those conversations to prepare them for the ugly in this world. Your caring involvement will make the biggest difference to them in the long run. Sammy

  2. Turning Stone, of course racism still exists. Anyone who claims otherwise is not paying attention. It warms my heart to hear that in eight years in the school system, you have not had to console your students because of scenarios similar to those in your own childhood. However, racism is still prevalent–everywhere.
    I live in San Diego, and was recently walking on the beach with my friend who is an african-american woman. Some twenty-something caucasian boys yelled “Nigger!” at us. This was not in a rural area; it occurred in a busy, popular community.
    And when hanging out with a friend who’d just had his hair cut, a friend at work said, “Don’t wear your hair like that; you look like a Mexican.” Seriously? The frequency and matter-of-fact manner of these incidents is disturbing, at best.
    Things have gotten better since the Civil Rights movement, of course. And even in the 1990’s, television shows like “ER” had African American and Latino actors as physicians. (Although in the early 1990’s, the original “90210”‘s cast was lily white, with no positive role models of color. I do remember Dylan getting carjacked by an african american man. Good God.)
    And again, I am grateful today for progressive educators like yourself, as well as modern books and television shows with realistic, positive people of color who are role models.
    I just wish our society could face their denial of the fact that racism still exists. Perhaps then we could move forward.

    • jethag, you make an excellent point on the level of denial that occurs over this issue. It seems like many would like to think that it is an issue of the past and not one people all over America are dealing with today. And, no matter how many times I hear of racist outbursts that occur it still pains me and I am sorry you have had to cope with this behavior. Sammy

  3. Ro says:

    Racism definitely still exists (even for the most well-intentioned of us, albeit subtle and subconsciously), and I think it always will during our mortal lives. I think it is improving in the next generation, but only in certain geographical areas. Socioeconomic classes/communities play a big role in this. In other areas, the division is getting even worse for multiple reasons I will not get into right now. For my family, I plan on always addressing this issue in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Who not only teaches us how we ought to related to God, but how we ought to relate to our fellow man. It’s the message of reconciliation- the message of true, life-changing love, not just mere tolerance.

    • Ro, thank you for your insight on socioeconomic status and the vital role it plays in shaping opinion and prejudice on race. There can never be a true dialogue on racism without a parallel one on how it has effected the socioeconomic opportunities of those who have endured it. Sammy

      • Ro says:

        I would also take it further and say that these communities (and I am thinking of cities) foster an environment of racism themselves. The dialogue should include the past, but should also be aware of what the grueling present is. Part of the discussion needs to also include the racism of minority communities.

  4. To hold to the belief that racism is nonexistent would be ignorant simply because people have selfish, sinful hearts. Thankfully, the brazen effects of racism have not been as obvious from my perspective. I live in the Northeast, so my idealism may be skewed. I have friends of different races. I have gone to school with those of different races. I grew up in a home who welcomed anyone. Though, I have had to process this more deeply in the last two years as our family welcomed two biracial boys into our family. How will racism affect them? What questions will they face? How can I make them feel an integral part of our family as our sons?
    Their biological mother is white and their fathers are black. The simple fact that their fathers have walked away from each of them does not help. That said, many fathers, no matter what their race, have walked away. The older of the two boys is in the public school system in a predominately white neighborhood. I was concerned at first as to how he would be treated, especially as a foster child. Thankfully, we have not experienced any issues. He personally struggles with who he is: black or white. It is perfectly normal. It does not appear that any person has challenged him, but he questions who he is at times. In the last year, he has made an important discovery. We love him, but more importantly God loves him no matter what. He is now convinced that it does not matter what color you are for God to be in your heart and life. God gives him value and importance. No one can take that away.
    Practically, we may get a few second looks. Okay it may be a few stares, though it may be that we have such a big family. No one questions our family. Onlookers see a family unit. I have even had a black woman say that my littlest one favors me which is funny as I am blond and blue-eyed.
    I am convinced that teaching kindness and respect for everyone is essential in raising children who do not make judgments on race. That respect is not just a good idea, but rather a God-given imperative. That is where it needs to begin. Unfortunately, others may not have that worldview. That is the rub. We cannot insulate our kids from every cruelty, but I can prepare their hearts to understand their true value.

  5. As great a tool as the internet is, it has giving voice to a lot of racists and haters. Read any article on a big site like Yahoo! relating to President Obama, a black celebrity, or a controversial news story with a racial component, and you will see thousands of anonymous comments from people spewing all manner of hatred and, worse, justification for the hatred. Beyond that shrinking segment, though, in the wider America, unintentional racism still has a firm grip. You know, like when people say, “You don’t SOUND black,” thinking it’s a compliment. Or that subtle, awkward pause before the co-worker addresses Takecia by name, the way he doesn’t when addressing Bill or Jane. I’m in my forties now, and, despite growing up in an ‘enlightened’ home and being ‘open-minded,’ I shake my head when I think back on the ideas I had and assumptions I made even 5 years ago. It’s a long learning curve.

    • Eric, I am with you on the learning curve, on both sides. Like expecting the worst case scenarios for my children and being pleasantly surprised over the true and real connections that they have with children of many races. Thank you for giving those very real and often overlooked examples that keep us divided.
      Sammy

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