Sunday, November 26, 2006

Round And Round We Go

Contrary to popular belief, the words and actions of Michael Richards have not opened up any racial wounds. That would require some amount of healing, and I doubt the poor and black residents of New Orleans have healed to any degree. Rather, those feelings have just been forgotten about since Monday Night Football re-opened the Superdome.

In fact, forgetting about what happened (or “moving on with our lives,” as it is often termed) is the remedy of choice for our nation when dealing with racial injustices. Without a great deal of effort on the part of African-Americans, Michael Richards’ actions at the Laugh Factory will be a distant memory in a relatively short amount of time.

“Seinfeld: Season 7” will be the number one DVD seller during the holidays. All may not be forgiven, but most will be forgotten.

And that is how our nation deals with racist attitudes, actions, and rhetoric: “if we wait long enough, blacks will forget how angry they were.”

Need Proof? Trent Lott was recently appointed Minority Whip of the U.S. Senate. This is the same character who was forced to step down from this post when he said "I want to say this about my state (Mississippi): When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either." Strom Thurmond, past Senator for South Carolina, is probably most infamous for being one of the most strident and sustained racists and proponents of institutionalized segregation.

These episodes expose the racist underbelly of America. After some amount of time they are forgotten, and covered over by a threat du jour. We are left knowing that racism is still a threat to African-Americans in this country, but unable to prove it until another idiot like Richards comes along and makes a racist statement. And of course, it will all be forgotten soon enough, and so the cycle continues.

This occurrence is only the fault of those of us who are negatively affected. While I want to agree with Barack Obama and understand racism as “America’s problem,” racism does not hurt all of America. We as African-Americans must take responsibility for making sure that this culture of racism is understood to be a serious problem. This is not about “playing the race card,” this is about being culturally and socially responsible for our own.

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