Monday, March 29, 2010

Conversation: The cure for racism

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Did you hear about the three Caucasian eighth graders who tried to shove a photo of the KKK into an African-American boy's locker at Union Academy in Monroe, N.C.? What possessed them to do such a thing, and what were they trying to accomplish?

It's hard telling, but it's easy to assume they acted out of ignorance. It's also easy to assume they were mimicking the adults in their lives, as children often do. No one knows for sure, though, but them. Could be they thought they were being funny.

Well, there is nothing funny about racism, the KKK or civil rights. In fact, the lessons learned during the Civil Rights Movement are some of the most critical lessons shaping our communities today. But if we don't talk about the impact of that time — which was only about 40 years ago, we dampen the impact of the lessons. You know what they say, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Fortunately, the headmaster of the school, Raymond Reinsant, seems to understand that it's time to reassess how the school deals with race relations. He told The Charlotte Observer, "Kids need to be sensitized to how horrible those events (of racism in the 1950s and 1960s) were at that time."

They were horrible. It was a time of struggle, violence and oppression. It was a time of drastic change. It was a time of awakening. It was a time we can not afford to forget.

In good news: With the help of our top-rated library system and the Internet, there is no reason why we can't help younger generations experience the impact of the Civil Rights Movement, get them thinking, get them paying attention to their own biases.

There's no room for racism in our city. None at all. Help prevent it by talking about it in an open, candid way with people who look like you and people who don't. Remember: If we can't talk about our problems, we can't solve them.

Oh, and Kudos to John Pando, the father of the African-American youth who had to face down the bullies. He didn't agree with the school's initial reaction, but he also didn't respond with vitriol. No, he told the Observer, "I never considered the school to be racist, and I still don't," Pando said. "If I did, he wouldn't be there."

That made me think of this quote by James Arthur Baldwin, “It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate."

In related news: Rally protests illegal immigrant deportation law (Charlotte Observer)

When discussing racism, it would help not to act like any of the people in these Reckless Tortuga videos — even if they do help get the conversation started:


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