Race Relations in America: Revisited

10.20.09 | Dr. Stephen Coleman | Comments[0]

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Despite the election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president, America still has serious challenges of racial equality and justice in areas involving education, jobs, housing, and law enforcement. Indeed, even though America has come a long way in the area of race relations, it still has a long way to go.

For example, in the last couple of years there has been a disturbing trend in New York, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere where past and present public officials have used words like racist and racism in gratuitous, irresponsible, and thoughtless ways. It was just about a year ago that Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha called the people of Western Pennsylvania racists. He later apologized and said that “redneck” would have been a more appropriate term.

More recently, New York Governor David Paterson -- perhaps the most unpopular governor in the Empire State’s history -- opined that he was the victim of racism. Additionally, Governor Paterson and former President Jimmy Carter both argued that criticism directed at President Barack Obama was racist. The president -- refusing to play the race card -- rejected this analysis.

More locally, the only black member of the city school board in Elmira, New York has publicly charged that the other members of the board -- as well as the board itself -- are racist. Despite her dramatic charges, she has not provided any evidence. Ladies and gentlemen of New York and Pennsylvania, throwing around words like racist and racism is outrageous, irresponsible, and just plain wrong.

It reminds me of the late Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy who -- without proof -- falsely accused people of being communists. In doing so, he ruined the careers and reputations of many who he had targeted. Those in public life need to choose their words carefully.

There are serious issues involving race and racism in America. Those who play the race card with incendiary language are a disgrace. They distract from a discussion of the serious issues of the day.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for writing in and I always appreciate your comments. Comment below, or send me an email.

cc-wetm - tv- Dr. Coleman also airs commentaries and a public affairs program on WETM 18 Elmira. For more information on these programs, go to wetmtv.com.


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