Racism still exists in the United States?
Date: Tuesday, December 31 @ 11:52:39 UTC
By Mitch Jones
December 31, 2002
America is in denial. America has been saying that racism is a thing of the past. Civil rights activists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are beating a dead horse. After terrorism rocked America out of its apathetic stupor, the media glossed over reports of racist attacks against Arab-Americans with rhetoric that said America is "unified as never before."
Last year, the United States pulled out of the U.N. Conference on Racism because the Arab states were accusing Israel of being a "racist state." Instead of trying to reconcile the differences between Arabs and Jews in the region, which was the point of the conference, the United States and Israel pulled out, denying that Israel had any record of racism. Israel does not allow Arabs residing within its borders to be citizens; thus, they are not eligible for the rights of a citizen. They are taxed, but because they are not allowed to vote, they are not represented in the Israeli government.
The United States was also criticized by some African nations for its history of slavery. American delegates explained this away by saying that slavery was a long time ago and race relations in America are fine now.
Not so! The American public was surprised to hear Trent Lott praise Strom Thurmond during his birthday party, a comment for which he was forced to resign as majority leader. Trent Lott was severely criticized for his comment, but why has the American public not looked at the man about whom the comment was made? Strom Thurmond, a century old this year, ran for President on the States Rights Democratic ticket in 1948. The States Rights Democratic Party was a third party formed as a schism from the Democratic Party to bring attention to the southern white community's views on racial issues.
The Dixiecrats (as was their nickname) supported racial segregation as well as other "racially conservative" issues. In 1954, he was elected as a senatorial representative for South Carolina as the only successful write-in candidate in American history. After his election to the Senate, Thurmond was the figurehead of a movement to get southern whites to vote Republican.
The Republican Party, as my fellow YellowTimes.org comrade, Andre Achong, so eloquently stated, has a "shameful civil rights record." Strom Thurmond rallied southern support for Nixon's Presidential campaign: support without which Nixon probably wouldn't have won. The 1950s and 60s saw Republicans making every effort to resist civil rights legislation. Of course, it is important to remember that before the 1950s, the Democratic Party was the racist party that resisted abolition of slavery before the Civil War and Southern Democrats later resisted moves toward any new civil rights legislation.
We need to remember that, not so long ago, this country was split along racial lines and the politics of the day reflected such a split. The racist element in America was still strong as recently as the 1960s. These days, it is unpopular for a politician to be openly racist, but it does not mean there aren't racist politicians. When the White House tapes were released during the Watergate investigation, Nixon could be heard saying obscene things about "niggers" and "Jew daddies."
Perhaps Trent Lott's comments should be a wake up call to the American people. Racism still exists. Our leaders are not the epitome of justice that we'd like them to be. Perhaps now the American people and the Republican Party can begin to address the de facto racism that still exists institutionally and individually. Trent Lott, on the BET network, expressed his support for affirmative action, despite his conservative image. Perhaps this is a testament to the power of the people.
Trent Lott's resignation will not end the racism that exists in America. Especially, with the racist foreign policy of the current administration, the people still have a reason to protest American injustice. We have come a long way as far as race relations, but we still have a long way to go.
[Mitch Jones is currently a student majoring in journalism and sociology. He attends the State University of New York at Brockport where he writes for the student newspaper, the Stylus. He also is a singer/songwriter and poet. More information can be found at Mitch's website: http://www.hastheboyfallen.cjb.net. He lives in the United States.]