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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/19/14

The Racism May Be Submerged, But We're Still a Racist Society

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Message Dave Lefcourt
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Michael Dunn Convicted Of Attempted Murder In 'Loud Music' Trial .A jury on Saturday night convicted a Florida man on four charges related to his shooting into an SUV full of teenagers during an argument over loud music, b...

Photo of Michael Dunn at trial for killing 17 year old Jordan Davis

In light of the recent mistrial verdict in a Florida first degree murder trial whereby Michael Dunn, a white man who shot and killed 17 year old Jordan Davis over his playing of loud music and then reading in my local newspaper [1] of a black mother with two teenage sons and fearing for their safety because as she says, "They will be judged by the color of their skin and not the content of their character", it brought to mind a personal encounter I had many years ago, (though hardly something even remotely in scale or substance to the murder trial of Dunn or the anguish felt by the mother).

I once was a supervisor at a forestry camp for teenagers committed by a juvenile court judge for delinquency. This was back in 1968, five years after Martin Luther Kings "I have a dream speech" at the Lincoln Memorial, seven months after he was murdered in Memphis and the streets of many black areas of cities were in flames.

At a gathering of some 10 or 12 kids and myself over something they had allegedly done --too insignificant to now recall- I was abruptly confronted by one of them with, "Are you prejudiced?", (me being white and all of them black), and I replied, "This is a racist society".

The reply, as I recall, seemed to take the edge off their anticipation of what I would say, possibly recognition by them, at least from this one white man, acknowledgment of a truth of what they were facing daily in their own lives.

That was 46 years ago. Some things have changed for the better since that time. Opportunities for some African Americans have greatly improved. They dominate college and professional basketball and football, are increasingly found in the professions of law and medicine,- even in the deep south where I attended college in the late 1950's- where I believe open racism has become submerged, but hardly overcome, where "stand your ground" laws proliferate and white on black murders of innocent teenagers are either acquitted, as in the Zimmerman case of his killing Trayvon Martin or the case declared a mistrial against Dunn shooting Jordan Davis, (though Dunn was convicted on three counts of 2 nd degree attempted murder).

The fact is, no matter how one looks at it, we're still a racist society. The racism may be outwardly submerged, but it's still too ingrained to believe a color blind society is just around the corner.

That may be a sad commentary, but something we're still not facing or even having an honest discussion about.        

We seem to believe the down and out racists will eventually die off. The Strom Thurmond's and Jessie Helms are gone from the scene. There's a black president, black mayors, black coaches in college and professional sports. That's progress of a sort.

But what do we truly feel inside ourselves? That's the key.

I believe we have a long way to go. Just ask the black mother who fears for her two teenage boys.

[1] "A never- ending war, For every small step we take toward a colorblind society, it seems we also take a deadly step backward" by Kaye Wise Whitehead, "The Baltimore Sun, February 19, 2014.

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