Racial equality still out of reach
Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 13:04
When Obama was elected in 2008, many rejoiced that it signaled what was supposed to be the ending of racism and the starting point of what was to become a post-racial America.
Unfortunately, these utopian thoughts may have been premature as the recent tragedies regarding Travyon Martin and Shaima Alawadi show that we are far from a perfect world.
While Martin’s case has been highly publicized, some may not know about Alawadi, the Iraqi woman found unconscious by her teenage daughter in their California apartment in a pool of blood. This tragedy is also believed to be a hate crime, since her body was found alongside a note saying, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.”
In respect for Martin, people have worn their hoodies and lined the streets to protest the loss of a young life.
The hoodie has been largely used as a representation of racial profiling and injustice believed to be associated with the murder.
In solidarity, the hoodie has recently been worn by athletes, celebrities and even politician Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, who was escorted off the house floor mid-speech because of inappropriate attire.
“Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” said Rush.
“Racial profiling has to stop.”
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman who killed Martin, has been branded as a bigot. However, as with all things in life, things aren’t so black and white.
While all evidence seems to point to Zimmerman’s guilt, one must examine whether or not the rehashing of old “hate” rhetoric from both sides is astounding.
First, we need to be honest with ourselves. Prejudices do exist and will for a long time. Before we are even out into the world our heads are already filled with unsubstantiated thoughts and random musings that can affect the way we think about people.
For too long we have tried to suppress these thoughts and act like they don’t exist, which in essence is foolish.
As a society, we cannot move that quickly. As the current generation grows up a mix of different race cultures and ethnicities, we seem to forget that the civil rights movement was not that long ago at all.
After all, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. only passed away a little over 50 years ago.
People have latched onto this Zimmerman story and have garishly exploited its implication.
Though the trial is not set to take place for a long time, the sheer nature of the situation has many wondering about double standards in the law.
Many pundits argued that if Zimmerman had been black and Martin white, there would be no question that Zimmerman would have been arrested and convicted of murder.
This country has become so inexplicably racially sensitive that tiptoeing around issues has become a real skill as evident by Fox News Anchor Geraldo Rivera’s dubious statement about ‘hoodies.’
“I’ll bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way,” the news anchor said.
But just as Rivera was lambasted for his comments, some have argued that the comments themselves may have been validated, just the way it was conveyed may have come across the wrong.
Countless African American families have come out in recent weeks stating that they do in fact warn their children about dressing a certain way.
Even pop culture cannot escape the wrath of our biases.
The recent box office hit The Hunger Games based on the novel of the same name was subjected to more racist banter.
The character “Rue” who is described in the novel as having dark brown skin, was subjected to a host of racist remarks by fans on Twitter, seemingly unhappy that the film version was portrayed by a an actress of dark brown skin, even though it was the author of the books intention.
The controversy proves that even teenagers who grew up in what was supposed to be a post-racial world still hold biases.
One would be baffled today at the amount of racist websites lurking around the Internet.
Going to school in New York City, a cosmopolitan society, where integration seems normal, these assertions about race can seem stark and ancient, but quite frankly the rest of America is far behind.
It is baffling that a nation built on immigrants can become so riled up with hate when it comes to each other.
There have been monumental gains in recent years but we are still far away from Dr. King’s dream.