We're not there yet

Mexia News Editorial

We take great pride in the fact that we ended segregation, KKK marchers don't parade through our towns and crosses aren't burned in people's yards. We should certainly be grateful these problems are not a part of our every day lives, but when it comes to stamping our racism, we are not there yet.
Racism is more dangerous today than ever in some ways. Much of the violence has disappeared, though it rears its ugly head from time to time. But because it is not headline material and there is not shocking violence captured on newsreels, we tend to have a false sense that all is well.
Two high-profile examples in a week remind us that all is not well and if ending racism is truly important to us, we must be more vigilant than ever.
The U.S. Department of Justice released a report detailing what it called a pattern of discrimination in Ferguson, Mo. The report is lengthy, but one page speaks volumes about what racism looks like today. At least seven instances of racist jokes or comments were found in e-mail correspondence between city officials and or police officers.
A University of Oklahoma fraternity was thrown off campus after video surfaced of members participating in racist chants on a charter bus.
While neither of these instances were directed at minorities, they speak volumes about how these individuals view minorities.
If we want to bury our heads in the sand and say “Well, those are just two instances,” we are fooling ourselves. Those are two examples of things we know deep down occur across the country every day. These are not Missouri or Oklahoma problems, these are American problems.
What's a joke among friends, right? We have adopted the “no harm, no foul” rule for racism in America and it is frightening.
The jokes and chants themselves are abhorrent, but what they symbolize is worse. They demonstrate that in many ways we do see minorities as inferior. They prove that we cling to stereotypes and longstanding views of the differences in people. Most importantly, they prove a complete lack of respect for those who are different.
When you do not respect someone who is different, you can never see them as equal. When you see or hear racism in your community and you ignore it, you are in a sense endorsing it. You are allowing it to be acceptable. And when racism is reduced to jokes and attitudes about others it is very easy to shrug it off and ignore it.
These are the attitudes and actions that strengthen the divide between different people. These are the things that make coming together and learning to respect one another as equals impossible. These are the things we must refuse to accept today.