Racism is not a thing of the past

LateshaJohnsonBy Latesha Johnson | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Reading chapters about racism towards blacks in American history textbooks, I thank God that I did not live in an era in which the worst occurred. I watch the news and every day it strikes me that we have elected and re-elected an African-American president, and this makes me believe that all the work Martin Luther King Jr. did has finally paid off in full.

Then, that belief begins to fade away when I hear about racial acts that still occur today.

This past week I read a CNN news article that really made my blood boil. According to the article, a noose was hung around the neck and a Confederate flag was placed on the face of a statue of James Meredith at Ole Miss. Meredith is a famous civil rights figure and the first African-American to attend the university.

Actions like this make me question how far we really have come in this country. These are college students who are in a clear state of mind, displaying their hate toward African-Americans by mocking something that I thought we had left behind more than 50 years ago.

I fail to understand the drive of people who aim to destroy the lives of someone else because of the color of their skin. What is so different? What is there to hate? The amount of melanin one carries should not determine the way someone feels about them.

Knocking on wood as I say this, I have not experienced racism on a personal, one-on-one level, yet I still worry and wonder about my safety as an African-American. I could be walking down the street having the best day of my life and someone driving down the same path could throw a drink out of the window and shout “Nigger” or other racial slurs at me, not because they don’t like me, but because they don’t like the way that I look.

In the case of 17-year-old, Jordan Davis, an African-American, the type of music he listened to was what cost him his life. His white murderer, Michael Dunn, labeled him a thug because he listened to rap music causing a deadly altercation.

This incident occurred about 30 minutes away from where I am located and quite frankly, who’s to say I could not be next? I listen to rap music and I like to listen to it at high levels. Does that make me a threat to the white person that may be parked beside me at a gas station? I don’t think so, but I’m sure Davis didn’t think so either.

Racism isn’t at the height of hatred that it was in the past and yes, we can all see a change. But will it ever be a thing of the past? We honor the success of African-Americans in February every year, but somehow, people still exist who believe whites are superior to blacks.

Yes, some people are financially more successful than others, but I don’t think race is the reason. Sometimes I wish we all had blue skin, but the scary part is I wouldn’t doubt if people would find other ways to discriminate and separate.

No man should take the life of someone or degrade the person that they are with hateful words because we all bleed the same color.

There are times when people like Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman make me feel like I always need to look over my shoulder or carry a weapon, but then I remember that the actions of those people aren’t a representation of their race as a whole.

I don’t know if we are going forward or backward in America, but the place that we are at now isn’t all that good — it’s just more subtle. I will never understand the reason for racism, and I do not know if it will ever cease to exist. But I do know that it is never an act I will participate in. I think it is an ugly way to live. We can continue to protest and we can continue to pray, but the hatred in someone’s heart has to be removed from within.

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