By Cireal Americanus
“The impulse may be to write a piece that says Barack Obama represents a ‘Post-racial Politics’. That term I reject because it implies that some how my campaign represents an easy shortcut to racial reconciliation. It’s similar to the notion that if we’re just color blind, some how problems will be solved. I just want to be clear so there’s no confusion….that solving our racial problems in this country will require concrete steps and significant investment. We have a lot of work to do to overcome the long legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. It can’t be purchased on the cheap. I am fundamentally optimistic about our capacity to do that and I do assert that there is a core decency in the American people and in White America that makes me hopeful about our ability to deal with these issues. But these issues aren’t just solved by electing a ‘Black President’”. President Obama during an interview at the outset of his Presidential campaign in Iowa.
With the Election of the Countries first African-American President, many non-Minorities think that we have entered into an era of a “Post-Racial” America. A period of time in which we have out-grown those gross injustices of our past, i.e. Slavery, Lynchings, Jim Crow, Segregation, etc., and have moved to a time period where the playing field has been leveled between non-Minorities and Minorities and in many cases where Minorities have received an advantage through Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity programs.
This belief, however, overlooks the existence of Structural, Systemic, and Institutionalized racisms of the day, i.e. the high incidents of incarceration for Blacks/Latinos vs. Whites, the broad disparity and ever increasing divide of wealth between these groups, the double unemployment rate of Black/Latinos vs. Whites, the impact of the Sub-prime lending crisis on Blacks/Latinos, etc. In many cases, the U.S. is stuck in the paradigm where racism and racist are defined as individual perpetrators who spew hate filled rhetoric and/or commit violent acts of aggression against Minorities.
The issue in the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was not whether arresting Officer Crowley was a racist but whether he was a participant in the systemic racism within Law Enforcement. These very same practices enable some Black police officers to engage in police brutality and racial profiling against members of their own community. These practices may also give indication as to why Officer Crowley felt the need to lie in his police report when he characterized the “perpetrators” in the infamous 911 call as “two black males”. A characterization that feeds a legal system relative to who fits the “stereotype” of a criminal and criminal behavior thus attempting to validate his egregiously unconstitutional behavior and unlawful arrest.
This same issue can be found in the Confirmation hearings of now Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. Leading up to and during Justice Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings we find the media and members of the G.O.P. intently focused on Justice Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment. The comment, taken out of context, was an attempt to label Justice Sotomayor as a racist vs. the comments original attempt to focus on broader issues, i.e. the need for Diversity within our Judicial System and the value diverse backgrounds bring to the adjudication process. This argument overlooks the 3000+ cases in which Justice Sotomayor consistently proved to be a “thorough and centrist” Jurist.
When our Citizens, Media and Government sincerely focus on the elimination of Structural Racism within our Law Enforcement, Judicial, and Economic systems then and only then will our society experience the full benefits of being a United States.