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Race and Racism: Why is it STILL too Hot to Handle?

racism

 

Yesterday’s GEM debate was a hot one, heck I even said it was leading into the piece. It was about a man in Texas who, after questioning whether white men are the majority anymore, formed a group and plans to give five scholarships to men who are at least one quarter Caucasian. I posted it on the site, tweeted it and placed it on my Facebook “Like” Page. Those of you who follow this site know we present big ideas, spiky debate (remember this one?) and have more opinions than hot wings in Buffalo. But I am open-minded and will welcome and publish other opinions, even when they differ from my own.

So after I put up yesterday’s debate I went to my “Like” page on Facebook where this message was waiting for me.

Rhonda (last name withheld) Wow. Racism again. I thought that by ignoring your obvious racist comments and remarks, I could enjoy the writings you put out there that are funny, intelligent, and resemble me quite much. However, you seem to forget that there are numerous organization that are strictly for black Americans. I don’t see you pointing fingers in their direction. It’s become obvious that you have a problem with white people. Sadly, I’m going to take you off my Facebook. I’ll miss the non-racist writings I’ve come to love. 🙁

Clearly Rhonda was someone who’s only been circling the periphery of Good Enough Mother because if she had been around here for more than a minute she would know how completely asinine her comments were. No, I don’t hate white people; truthfully all people rankle me, regardless of color. But it did occur to me that I skipped over something that she was very quick to glom on to and frankly is illustrative of the race issue in this country. Rhonda could not understand why I would ask the question of whether there should be a scholarship for white men only when there are all sorts of monies, organizations and schools for people of color that I failed to point out. In her mind that made me a racist. My mistake was in assuming that she, or anyone else for that matter, knew the genesis of those organizations.

Take, for example, Historically Black Colleges and Universities the first one of which was founded more than two decades after the end of slavery. Until the U. S. Supreme Court struck down Brown v. Board of Education, they were one of the few avenues for people of color to pursue higher education.  By the way, people of all races can attend HBCUs and recently the all-male Morehouse College had its first white valedictorian in the school’s history.

The United Negro College Fund, a philanthropic organization, was set up to provide scholarship money for students, primarily African American, wishing to go to college. Though the term Negro is in the title, it offers scholarships to people of all races.

I recently wrote about Essence Magazine, a publication that celebrates women of color, and its hiring of a white fashion editor. Whether you believe that is good or bad, the fact remains; Essence magazine, like Ebony and Jet grew out of a desire to present positive images of people of color to the mainstream where they were not seen with any sort of frequency before.

Those are but a few examples of organizations that my former fan Rhonda was no doubt talking about. But what I find absolutely fascinating is how people react to hot button issues like race.  Instead of questioning, probing, maybe even taking the time to lay out a well-constructed argument in support of her position, Rhonda took the easy way out.  She called names, made false accusations, got pissed and hit “delete”. Then she closed the door and retreated back to a world where her views would remain intact and never to be challenged.  But for every Rhonda there is an Ollievette, who left this comment on my page:

Ollievette: Race is always a heated topic, particularly for those that will never understand the plight of the disenfranchised. I enjoy all of your writings, particularly those that cause everyone to look outside of their particular boxes!

That is precisely what we try to do here, present issues in a way that make people think. Ollievette is right; race a prickly issue, racism still exists and contrary to what some believe, 50 years of federally mandated civil rights and a black man in The White House does not make it disappear. The way to do that is to have open dialogue. Rhonda’s false assumption is that talking about race in this way makes you a racist. No it doesn’t; it makes you curious. We have to ask questions in a respectful way, be open to opinions that differ from our own and be adult about it. That means conversations don’t degenerate into name calling when someone gets mad.  Just my humble opinion and I reserve the right to course correct when presented with data that cause me to see things in a different way.

What about you; how do you feel about any of this? Scholarships for special groups? What do you think it will it take for racial issues to be adequately dealt with in this country or will they always be an issue?

 

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