I have been watching all of the colorful (pun intended) sights and sounds from the past week, wondering when did I walk into the 1960s all of the sudden – or, worse still, some altered version of the 1960s where civil rights organizations get it wrong on race, wholesome Americans get represented by a world-class bigot, and black people turn a blind eye to the deteriorating racial conditions within America by proclaiming that “institutionalized racism is dead.”
Between the Tea Party resolution last week and the embarrassment surrounding the Shirley Sherrod controversy this week, it is clear that the NAACP is scrambling to get its footing on how to address issues impacting race relations in America in the 21st century. Although they are struggling to find the best path for communicating and addressing these issues as they try to dodge being “snookered” again into a race controversy, it is evident that leadership within the proud organization has allowed itself to be “bamboozled” into taking on racial confrontations without the necessary set of facts to be effecting. Because of that, the NAACP should have been challenged, not only by conservative bloggers and activists that are looking for fair standards and definitions of racial protocol in today’s America, but also by urban Americans and people of color that have leaned on the NAACP as a pillar of moral authority for decades. Pushing the organization to transcend the times with creative methods for engagement and resolution of problems should be encouraged, even as the NAACP was persuaded to take the bait to stand in opposition to the Tea Party and its oft-reported and under-actualized racism.
Of course, Mark Williams and the Tea Party Express made the grassroots conservative movement an easy target, as Williams’ multiple comments were peppered with toxic sentiments that highlighted an overt anger towards African-Americans. His comments comparing the NAACP’s non-profit status and its $20 million budget unfavorably to slave traders’ profit margins were repugnant, especially considering the mission of each set of endeavors. Williams’ “satirical” letter written as “Ben Jealous” showed that ignorance may be bliss, but awareness of one’s poisonous influence displays a treachery that must not be ignored. Having the Tea Party Express expelled from the Tea Party Federation is a good step, but without these patriots opening their collective mind to what is transpiring in America, the doors of opportunity for healing this nation past the impending explosion of massive 21st century racial and social discord throughout the country will continue to close rapidly.
Proclamations that “institutionalized racism is dead” and other forms of defiance against both the NAACP and the Tea Party Express do not confront the truth that is before us in America: namely, that race relations between American cultures, racial delineations within daily life, and realities and expectations based on race are getting worse, not getting better.
For example, police interactions with largely black communities are dangerously taking shape in a pattern consistent with the worst of our past, not the best of our future. In Atlanta, a 90-year-old black woman was killed in her home by police during a “botched drug raid,” one where police officers ended up admitting to planting evidence and falsifying other information around the case. Just last week in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, 4 white police officers broke into the home of a 74-year-old black woman without a search warrant and without criminal charges pending against the woman. The ensuing handcuffing and rough-housing of the resident prompted a heart attack and a stay in the local ICU, even after the elderly woman – who was alone at home – complained of chest pain before the officers covered up their badges (to prevent being identified) and left the premises.
Public school systems have re-segregated themselves in a de facto fashion over the past 15 years. Recent studies by leading researchers have shown that Americans with “ethnic-sounding” names are less likely to get job interviews and loan considerations upon first glance by those in decision-making capabilities. Institutionalized racism is very real in America, a problem only exacerbated by the economic tension throughout America, the polarizing nature of the first black president with his policies, and our collective lack of balance to address this reality with the courage to eliminate the problem and the emotional temperance to do so without false and overreaching allegations. The added element making race so explosive in America again is not the mistakenness of the NAACP with its recent actions or the actualized racism of a minority of tea partiers. Sadly, it is that in today’s America, combined with our inability to address the problems courageously and truthfully without a heavy dose of rhetoric to glaze over the realities we face comes this stinging truth: Black America is rapidly losing the moral authority to hold up its end of race healing. As more instances of black-centric animosity – be it from a “justification” of retaliation in the Obama Era or merely a misunderstanding of history and contemporary times – come to surface, the more that much of America believes that there is a sense of equal footing in all aspects of America just because blacks in America recently have shown a growing propensity to enact inappropriate racial beliefs. The rue of racial hatred is what keeps the poison recycling throughout our nation: regardless of where the anger starts, it ends up impacting all of our lives.
Unlike others, I do believe that there is yet another level – or several – for us to achieve as the melting pot society. I believe that we are capable of doing so as well. Yet, in order to make this a reality, we must confront the truths about where we stand regarding race as a melting pot American culture – even as we continue to watch the NAACP stumble over racial situations, select Tea Partiers tumble out of leadership because of their racial repugnance, and noted spokesmen misspeak about the death of institutionalized racism in America. Courage gives us the ability to correct the issue as it is, not how it is reported or how it used to be years ago. Conviction allows us to be fair with all Americans so that no mislabeling occurs. Commonality – as Americans – should give us the confidence to use these opportunities to address this head-on before the nation gets turned on its head because of all this.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the author of the book, “Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative,)” purchased online at www.tinyurl.com/lennysdiary and www.amazon.com. Catch Lenny on “Conservative Crosstalk Commentary featuring Lenny McAllister” every Saturday at 11:50 PM CST on www.650houston.com Houston. Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr and on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook .