A Message For The White Majority

For today’s post I am copying for you a story that appeared in The Daily Times, a Delaware newspaper. I came across the posting in the related news section that appears to the left on this page. But in case you miss it or it is gone by the time you read this, I wanted to make sure you read it because it is an important piece, not just for the intended audience, but for all of us.

A message for the white majority: We can overcome our racist history
By Joyce Mullins

It’s sad that as we commemorate the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first game in major league baseball we must face the incontrovertible fact that America is still a racist nation. We — and by “we” I mean the white majority of us — can’t seem to wash away the stain of our slave-holding history. It’s more than skin deep, as is our fear of people of color.

We’re racists not simply because Don Imus felt confident he would get laughs when he dredged Rutgers University’s women’s basketball team through the dirt in his own mind.
It’s because it took CBS and MSNBC days — not hours, but days — to get Imus and his show, “Imus in the Morning” off the air.

It’s that the big, white power boys of the American media thought it was OK to ignore the racist slurs in the banter Imus enjoyed with Bernard McGuirk, executive producer of the show and Sid Rosenberg, Imus’ former sports announcer who was filling in that morning.
It’s that the networks didn’t have the backbone to act until AFTER sponsors started pulling out. Only money — or the loss of it — had the power to make these overgrown, overpaid playground bullies do the right thing.

Kudos to the sponsors, I guess. There’s no way to be sure that they intended to take away the financial underpinnings of the show for the right reasons. Maybe they stepped up only because someone realized that the color of money is green and it doesn’t work any differently coming from the wallet of a white person or a black person.

I hate to be such a skeptic, but where were the sponsors back when Rosenberg referred to tennis star Venus Williams as an “animal?”

If any closet, or for that matter any openly, racist readers feel tempted to justify the Imus exchange because of the disgusting, woman-hating language used by this or that rap star, just don’t bother. As my late mother so eloquently preached, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” There are no excuses for racism, not for grownups. Hating someone because they look different from us is so intellectually and emotionally lazy. We aren’t born with hate in our hearts. As the song from “South Pacific” says, “You have to be carefully taught to hate all the folks your relatives hate.”

So how do we stop handing down this ugly lesson?

I’ve always thought the public schools could do a lot more than the lick-and-a-promise kind of cultural teaching that’s done. I didn’t get to be the mommy in a bi-racial family without the help of my parents. It wasn’t easy for southerners and I did start school in segregated Virginia. My dad anticipated that I might have some overcoming to do that first morning of my new fourth grade in integrated Pennsylvania. He said something simple and reassuring about looking for things that might be similar about the “little colored children” I was about to meet.

Before anyone leaps to the wrong conclusion — “colored” was politically correct in 1949!

When I came home from school that day, I happily reported that the “little colored girl who sat next to me wore a dress exactly like mine!”

I wholeheartedly recommend my father’s advice for us all.


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