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Post-Racial? Please!

December 29th, 2010 Comments off

Since Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States the term post-racial slipped into the media lexicon as an idea meaning that with election of the first black president the playing field is finally level. The thought plays well among whites to know that at last America is moving past the color bar and into society where everyone is treated the same.

Unfortunately post-racial is little more than ear sugar–it just sounds sweet when in reality it is more like a once popular candy called Sweet-Tarts–sugar-coated on the outside and terribly tart inside. A quick look at items like employment, education, health, criminal justice and police relations among a laundry list of other woes it is clear that many black Americans are sitting on the bench.

The dichotomy between black and white Americans is polar opposites. Is the glass half full or is it half empty? The answer is yes and no. For instance, black unemployment constantly doubles that of whites. Why? There are a variety reasons such as being unqualified, lack of transportation, lack daycare for single mothers, poor transportation and that old nemesis–racism.

The rise of the Tea Party in American politics revealed the bigotry, prejudice and racial hatred that still lives in America. White America is surely tired of the race-card being played in this country as are blacks, but there is a reason why that card stays near the top of the deck.

In 1996 Texaco settled a racial discrimination lawsuit for $176 million. Since that time there have been myriad race-based settlements including a case against the FBI, but those are in the past. Recently Abercrombie & Fitch paid out $50 million in a discrimination law suit. Even more recent, Tyson Foods cough up nearly a million dollars in another court case. In 2009, Eastman Kodak paid $21 million in yet another race-based suit and a little over a year later Eastman Kodak surrendered another $9 million in a separate racial suit.

Clearly, we have not come quite as far as we thought, but there is good evidence that progress is being made as race-based suits have dropped every year since the $176 million Texaco law suit. Overall, racial lawsuits have continued to diminish. The recently passed National Healthcare Act may help alleviate health issue as well as make the system more equitable.

The U.S. criminal justice system is in severe need of an overhaul. A 2010 study showed that blacks and Latinos were arrested in larger numbers and given harsher sentences than whites committing the same crimes. America’s War on Drugs has contributed greatly to the huge increase in the prison population. Three Strike laws and inequities in sentencing for cocaine distribution have also contributed to prison overcrowding.

The list of bias, bigotry and prejudice goes on and on, but list is growing shorter as America keeps moving forward. As far as “post-racial” is concerned a close look at the National Urban League’s State of Black America report before putting on the color blind glasses. As far as the first black president is concerned, although President Obama is supremely talented, he is just another politician.

Post-racial? Please!

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