Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Racist Message Made Public

It seems like every other day we read about someone who creates or forwards racist emails, mostly about African Americans. In the political arena, the messages are mostly about President Obama (recent examples include politicians and political operative, as well as a doctor active in the health care reform debate). Today it's a policeman in Boston who calls Henry Louis Gates a "banana-eating jungle monkey." He uses the term "jungle monkey" at least three times. And, predictably, he declares that he is not a racist. He was relieved of his duties and may be terminated. Not singling out that case specifically, but looking at all of the recent cases overall, there seems to be a real ignorance on the part of these people that not only do a lot of people of all colors find this offensive, but also that not everyone does this kind of stuff. The main line of defense tends to be, "I didn't make it up, I just forwarded it" or "everybody does it." What these people don't understand is that, no, everybody does not do it. While this defense does not apply to the policeman's case (he wrote the email with the intent to publish), these weekly incidents serve as reminder of the disconnect between sectors of our society on race. A lot of people just don't get it that these things are not cool, not everybody does them or likes them. There is an evolution of attitudes regarding race (particularly among the youngest adults in this country), but as these stories remind me, evolution is awfully slow.

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