Opinion

United States: Giving race and color prejudice a biopsy

23 September 2009 at 02:38 | 900 views

By Roland Bankole Marke, USA.

Open and honest national dialogue nesting on race and color prejudice is increasingly necessary in the United States despite apt sensitivity and emotional leverage that might open up deep wounds covered up by cosmetics for a long time: insinuating a guilt trip. Once the burning issues are addressed, the healing process that is a down payment for lasting peace to racial and color harmony infusing the balm of panacea into America’s psyche would emerge.

Rational thinking suggests that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, and the most powerful man in the world, the scourge of racism and color, a combustible combo, would thaw like ice, vulnerable to atmospheric conditions. Presently, a vitriolic reaction is seemingly playing out brashly before our eyes.

Biting my nails, I slice and dice the tenuous attacks on the credibility of Obama’s birth certificate, orchestrated by simmering right wing dissent aimed at assaulting his legitimacy as a natural born United States citizen and President although the facts debunk the unreasonable accusation. His hybrid ancestry, like his skin color, is emblematic of unity: he’s a fusion of both Black and White genes.

American politics is driven by reason and debate made up of symbolism, emotion and sentiment. Could this be a political stunt intimidating all Americans that Caucasians dominate American politics? Addressing him with labels like traitor, communist, racist only complicates the race and color dialogue and relationships.

Adding insult to injury, while Obama was delivering his speech on Health Care Reform to Congress, heckling good old boy from South Carolina, Joe Wilson, thundered “You lie” while Obama was refuting the thorny issue of extending Health Care to illegal immigrants. Wilson’s outrageous outburst falls short of calling Obama a ‘Boy’ a Southern racial epithet demeaning to Blacks. Wilson’s attack was fearlessly poignant, exposing his racially charged agenda in a nation that has shot its most charismatic presidents. There’s a similar attitude blooming within Obama’s camp too. How disturbing, when a few disingenuous folk of African ancestry connive to launch similar assaults? I wonder what a punch below the beltline is trying to achieve – carving out a political piñata?

Sadly, the harmattan of slavery, racism and discrimination directed at kids also suggests that the perpetrators have insensitively crossed the line. Kids don’t visualize our society through the prism of race or color. They see their peers as potential friends and playmates. The recent ire and resentment in Northern Philadelphia, when about 60 black kids showed up to swim at a private swimming pool is a wake up call and eye opener. An assault on humanity like the sting of racism had never left these shores. No one would expect the tentacles of racism to suddenly evaporate into thin air after America’s historic and momentous 2008 Presidential elections. Visionaries envisage that it is time to come to terms with reality through honest national debates to hone a peaceful reconciliation.

A camper, Dymire Baylor, heard a woman say, “What are all these black kids doing?” The kids were left to wonder whether their race was the problem. The Creative Steps Day Camp paid $1950 to the Valley Swim Club that claims open membership for potential members. But the first trip the minority campers made there suggests otherwise. The black kids were excited to go swimming at the Valley Swim Club. But on their maiden trip they were stunned by the reality check.

"I heard this lady, she was like, ’Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?’ She’s like, ’I’m scared they might do something to my child,’" Dymire, one of the campers said.

"When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool," Horace Gibson, a parent of one of the kids, wrote in an email. "The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately." The following day, to save face the club told the camp director that club membership was temporarily suspended and all monies paid would be refunded.

’The parents don’t want the refund. They want a place for their children to swim,’" camp director Aetha Wright said. The kids are still puzzled why they’re kicked out.

"They just kicked us out. And we were about to go. Had our swim things and everything," Simmer Burwell said. "There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion & hellip and the atmosphere of the club," John Duesler, President of The Valley Swim Club said in a statement.

Amid the media frenzy and emotional upheaval Tyler Perry, a popular television playwright and Hollywood mogul, who rose from rags to riches saw a small boy on CNN news crying, when he was in Jamaica shooting a movie. The sensation caught his eye, and moved with anger and compassion he offered to sponsor the black kids to Disney for a three-day treat where they would meet Mickey Mouse and have some fun.

This is not the first time that Perry is supporting minority causes or making sizeable donations to charity. The prophetic words of Booker T. Washington, wizard of the Tuskegee Institute still resonates. “Let your bucket down where you are.”

And Perry has been doing that. It’s about time that other successful minority folk too, start investing in their communities. And help providing the necessary goods and services that the communities need, especially the kids.

Minorities are perpetual consumers instead of potential producers of goods and services. They are a dependable marketing block that White producers often target, whether it is to promote designer clothes, junk food, expensive footwear or automobiles which are status symbols to feed the void or dearth of self esteem.

But who benefits economically from these viable ventures? Folk of African descent are targets of expensive advertisements aimed at arresting the psychology of their emotional and impulsive buying habits. It’s time Black folk start redirecting their resources towards capital investment to produce profitable goods and services that Caucasians too would ultimately demand. How many businesses are 100% owned by folk of African descent? Instead of ceaselessly job hunting to curb unemployment Blacks could emulate the Jews, Chinese, Indians or Japanese, by creating their own business enterprises and job opportunities. And take full control over management of their economic interests and destiny.

The global economic downturn is a potent reason why our folk need to become risk takers rather than ticket takers. And become entrepreneurs instead of mere employees. The rewards of entrepreneurial risks far outweigh the indignity of complacency and rooted dependency. Apart from sports and entertainment, what other areas have blacks dominated or thrived in to attract demand from their Caucasian counterparts?

A few successful minorities have accumulated resources which could be directed towards productive ventures. A complete renaissance in the mindset of Blacks is needed in order to climb up the economic ladder of power, dominance and economic freedom. Increased investment, cooperation and partnership within their communities are vital to stimulate education; striving to eradicate illiteracy and ignorance, walking the road to prosperity. The quality of education will determine the magnitude of development and freedom in the Black communities. This is the roadmap forward for Blacks to redeem their respect and dignity.

*Roland Bankole Marke is a Florida based freelance writer, poet and author of 3 books: Teardrops Keep Falling, Silver Rain and Blizzard, and Harvest of Hate: Fuel for the soul. Visit his website: www.rolandmarke.com

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