(FinalCall.com) – Eminent scholar, intellectual and founder of the NAACP’s The Crisis news publication, Dr. W.E.B. Dubois wrote the following statement in The Forethought of his book, “The Souls of Black Folk” in 1903: “Here in lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being Black here in the dawning of the 20th century. This meaning is not without interest to you, gentle reader, for the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line.”
Observers and analysts say that seven years into the 21st century the problem is still the “color-line” in America.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released in December 2006, stated that “most Americans, White and Black, see racism as a lingering problem in the United States.” CNN also used as a consultant University of Connecticut professor Jack Dovidio, who has researched racism for 30 years, according to his website. He estimated that approximately 80 percent of White Americans have racist feelings they may not recognize.
The survey questioned 328 Blacks and 703 Whites and determined that 84 percent of Blacks and 66 percent of Whites considered racism to be a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem, and 51 percent of Blacks and 26 percent of Whites claim to have “been a victim of discrimination.” Percentages were lower when people were asked if they knew anyone who was “racially biased”–only 31 percent of Blacks and 21 percent of Whites said they did. Only 12 percent of Blacks and 13 percent of Whites surveyed further admitted to being racially-biased themselves.
CNN’s Paula Zahn wrote on Dec. 19 that after comedian Michael Richard’s racist rant at a Los Angeles comedy club in November, she discussed with her staff “what would possibly drive a person to say such vile and hateful things?” She said the discussions with her staff raised a series of questions: Is there an inner racist in most of us?; and, is racism thriving today? So, armed with their poll, they went throughout the nation, holding town hall meetings. According to Prof. Dovidio, the results of CNN’s poll found that “We’ve reached a point that racism is like a virus that has mutated into a new form that we don’t recognize.”
Reaction to the CNN poll was swift. In her article on GOPUSA.com, Star Parker, president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education and author of the book “White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay,” asked “what was the point?” concerning the CNN program on racism.
“The point had to be to communicate with White America, because there certainly was no news for Blacks,” she said. “I just couldn’t help wondering if Zahn and the CNN crew really thought any of this was prime-time worthy news,” Ms. Parker stated.
However, on Dec. 14, two days after the poll’s release, a group representing Black conservatives, Project 21, issued a press release that stated: “The CNN report serves only one purpose, and that is to convince the public at large–specifically White people–that they are evil racists. It is a vulgar exercise to try to find racism in the fiber of every White.”
Ms. Zahn continued to raise questions concerning race. On Feb. 2, two days before Super Bowl 41, she devoted program time to the issue of Black coaches in the NFL; Blacks being tasered by police in Houston, and whether the fact that a Black celebrity may face jail-time because of a fatal car accident, when White celebrities in the same situation only faced civil charges.
The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Bob Law, former national radio talk show host and New York State co-chair of the Millions More Movement; and Mychal Massie, Project 21 chairman, were queried on whether CNN was the proper vehicle for the issue of racism in America.
“CNN does not have a single show hosted by an African American,” Rev. Jackson said, throwing the issue of racism right back into CNN’s lap. On whether he felt the shows were having any particular affect on the consciousness of Blacks, he said, “I think Black people look at these shows as just that, shows.” He said that his organization continues to put pressure on all of the networks to step up to the plate and hire more Blacks.
“We are applying pressure and opening doors,” Rev. Jackson said.
Mr. Law stated that “We all know that racism is real, but the real discussion should be centered around the question, ‘What is wrong with White folks?’ Why is it necessary for them to continue to look for White advantage, after decades–no, centuries–of White privilege?”
“Why is it that Whites are still racist–still using race as a tool–anything else is a bogus discussion,” Mr. Law stressed. He also added that CNN isn’t talking about anything that is real, but rather what we get from them are tricks.
CNN is promoting a racial divide and a double-standard, offered Mr. Massie. “And the liberal media is standing by quietly,” he said. “When I speak of credibility of a news organization, I am speaking of an organization that knows its responsibility to provide balanced news. CNN goes out of its way to create a news environment for its own benefit, which is not to show Blacks in a positive light; always there is a stereotypical slant,” Mr. Massie said.
Meanwhile, in New York City, the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network continues to hammer home the issues of race as they impact on the lives of Blacks.
On Nov. 23, Rev. Sharpton explained to CNN why he wouldn’t accept an apology from Mr. Richards: “This is not about accepting an apology. This is about starting a process to really deal with racism in this country.” Rev. Sharpton spoke out again when U.S. Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) recently referred to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as “articulate and clean.” Rev. Sharpton, on Feb. 4, again tackled the issue of race, when he told reporters he may seek to file a class-action lawsuit over a report from The New York Times (NYT) that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had “stopped more than 500,000 people in 2006, more than five times as many as they did four years ago.”
The NYT reported that 55 percent of the people stopped were Black, while 30 percent were Latino. “Is there a measure of profiling based on race that permeates in the NYPD?” Rev. Sharpton asked.
There are other reports that observers say reflect a racist trend. On Feb. 1, the federal office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a report stating that federal job discrimination complaints by workers against private employers rose in 2006 for the first time in four years. Allegations of racial discrimination rose 35 percent with over 27,000 charges. “These figures tell us that discrimination remains a persistent problem in the 21st century workplace,” stated an official of the EEOC.
On Jan. 11, Rockland County, NY students on the Ramapo High School freshman basketball team, after their game against Suffern High Scool, entered the locker room to find that a racial slur and a sketch of a Black lynching victim had been scrolled on a blackboard. According to The Journal News, some of the parents expressed outrage and demanded dialogue to address their children’s well-being. “Racism is present in Rockland County,” a mother told the newspaper.
However, around the nation, there are some who are using diverse vehicles to deal with the issue of racism in America, or at least get some dialogue started.
In Oakland, Calif., actor/comic/writer/radio host David Lacy uses humor to talk about serious racial issues in his one-man-show entitled Colorstruck. which runs through the second week of February at Laney College, while at the University of Arizona, those who stay in the dorms were greeted Jan. 31 with signs that read “White People Only” and “Colored People Only,” as an experiment conducted by the school.
The students were invited to a dinner to discuss their thoughts about the signs and racism in general. “It was really to provoke a discussion around racism–racism isn’t a topic students want to talk about,” the assistant director of residential education, responsible for the experiment, told the Arizona Daily Star.