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It could have been me

July 23, 2013 - John Stack
Last week, President Obama gave one of the gutsiest speeches a president can. It was hard because he knew there would be blowback. He knew a lot of his audience wouldn’t understand. He knew the “patriots” (the last refuge of a scoundrel) would pile on. He knew as a black man, he would be seen as biased by many. It wasn’t a moment of bringing the country together, like Bush after 9/11. Those are easy, expected and people are looking forward to them. They make us feel better, and be proud of our country. No..this speech was about bringing a family secret out into the open – and telling the whole world too. The US still has a race problem. When OUR PRESIDENT tells us he has been watched with a guilty eye because of his skin color, it makes one take notice. Many would assume or pass this “uncomfortable feeling “ off as it only happening to “ghetto kids”. Black kids wearing hoodies, backwards baseball caps, pants too big, etc.. A bad stereotype, but I can’t imagine the last time Obama wore clothes like that. Probably since he was 22 fresh out of college, he’s dressed better than I have every day of his life. He has 100 times the speaking talent I will ever have, and charisma I can never approach. Yet, I don’t believe I’ve EVER been profiled. It probably happened to him hundreds maybe thousands of times in the last 30 years for Obama. Sometimes he knew, other times he wasn’t aware. Up here in the great white north (literally and figuratively) I only know one black person. She seems super nice, and is married to a well respected local white guy. Living further downstate, I had many black friends. MY oldest son’s best friend was a very dark skinned Nigerian. My son luckily never had the thought of being racist, as his best friend was black. His dad worked on Wall Street, and even took my son and his to the city on occasion. I spent some nights drinking beer with him on his back deck. Ironically, this guy was more concerned with Nigerian affairs than him being profiled as a black man. I also had a friend I worked with in an independent pharmacy. She was very professional, smart and we even went to some concerts at Troy Music hall. If she was “profiled” there (as about the only black person in the building) I wasn’t aware, although I was also quite naïve about such things as a 23 year old. But, the owner (the father of my boss) would talk to her quite poorly. He would talk to her about her wanting grits, and that she really liked his Cadillac (although she drove a very nice Audi). Dumb racism. I recently saw a video on an experiment done on racist impulses, even subconscious as well as by blacks. A camera was set up to follow people’s reactions in a park. There was a bike chained to a post. For an hour, they had a white kid with burglar tools – hacksaw, chain cutters, etc try to get the chain off the bike in broad daylight. Then, using a black kid, they dressed him identically, down to both wearing a baseball cap backwards. For the dozens of people who came by the white kid, virtually none stopped or questioned him. A very few did, but they all just gave up and walked away. One was an older black woman, who claimed a nice white boy wouldn’t be doing anything bad in the park. But..with the black kid, it took about 45 seconds for people to stop. And gather. And question. And call the police, and yell for help. And the situation was repeated again and again. It was painful to watch. Literally the only difference was skin color. Basically the same demographic was going through the park, but they only stopped when it was the black youth. I wish I could say that I would have stopped the white guy as quickly as I would have stopped the black guy. Would you? But of course, the right wing media has reacted in a way that makes me wish we could deport people just for being rotten human beings. Makes me emabrassed that I am called an American just like them. Fox news contributor “"President Obama is now our Race-Baiter in Chief," Fox News contributor Todd Starnes wrote on Facebook. "His remarks today on the Trayvon Martin tragedy are beyond reprehensible." But, if there is any doubt that race is alive today (or is it just plain incredible ignorance and lack of education?) just read the blog posts at the end of many of the articles about . “Race baiter in chief” or “Either stand up for the criminal justice system or shut up” “I wish Obama was Trayvon 35 years ago” or “this is some ginned up racial controversy”. Or “if blacks are disproportionally jailed, aren’t they also disproportionately the violators?” or “OK blacks – the president just gve you the right to riot!”. Plenty of conservative broadcasters and right wing nuts truly can’t even comprehend what Obama said. Then there is Rush Limbaugh. He says we shouldn’t feel “white guilt” about slavery. Nit as you would suppose because WE had anything to do with slavery, nor did any of our ancestors in the last 150 years. No. He says we shouldn’t have white guilt because we had slaves “only” for a shorter period of time than other Asian and European countries. Yeah, we stole them from their homeland, seperated families, raped, maimed, starved and killed them and treated them like chattel, but its OK because we didn’t have slavery as long as other races. You. This is the top right wing commentator today and if you don’t think racism is alive and well, just see how many people agree with Rush… Statistics and facts time and again show that blacks are illegally profiled by police. Are convicted at a significantly higher rate than whites among many other measurable items shoing bias. Why is the majority of our drug criminals lower class blacks when even the FBI says that over 80% of cocaine users are higher paid white people? Because its easier to go into a poor drug neighborhood and round up a dozen black guys for drugs than to actually go after the portion that is responsible for 80 percent of the drug problem. We do have a race problem in the United States. And as I have often pondered, we can argue about solutions (lower taxes, higher government spending etc) when we agree on the problem (the economy, jobs). But, when a significant portion of America don’t even recognize we HAVE a problem. When Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin continue to espouse the belief that blacks are LUCKY their ancestors were slaves because it brought them to the great land of America, we are truly a troubled country.


Article Comments



Aug-04-13 11:41 AM

When anyone takes anything Bachman or palin says as anything other than self-serving tripe we are indeed in trouble.


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