Racism alive in new form
It seems as though American society cannot completely eradicate feelings of racism, a skewed worldview with roots that can be traced back to the very founding of the nation. Even in the early 1500s, European settlers felt a distinct sense of supremacy over the Native Americans who had inhabited the Americas largely via the Bering Straight years prior to the European expeditions. Jumping approximately 350 years later in American history submerges one directly into the sweat of the Civil War — an imbroglio between citizens of a nation teetering on the edge of tearing apart — with the issue of enslaving black Americans a heated contributing factor.
To deny that black people were outrageously discriminated against in our nation's past would be absolute absurdity; white citizens literally purchased them as if they were commodities rather than living, breathing human beings. To attempt to expunge this blemish on our past would be both highly insulting and entirely unjustifiable to the oppressed. White supremacists believed themselves to be of paramount rank, but they were actually proving their nescience of the incisive fact that all men are truly create equally regardless of the amount and type of melanin that their body produces.
That being said, America has come a long way since the days of the Civil War. Distance from the scene of the crime should not make us as a nation forget our error of ways, but we should in no degree harp on what has come to pass. As a nation, we have risen above the former seemingly-interminable issue of unequal rights and undeserved discrimination. Of course, every generalization comes hand-in-hand with its anomalies. White people do exist who still believe themselves to be preeminent; racism has not been completely aborted, but abated.
Paradoxically, in present-day America, it seems as though some black people refuse to let go of the racism that plagued their ancestors, channeling their resentment toward white citizens in what is easily identified as racism. While I obviously will acknowledge this feeling is certainly not running rampant, I have had firsthand encounters with it. A number of black Americans are all too ready to assume that whites still harbor feelings of superiority toward them. Heavy with baggage from the past, some cannot seem to shake off the notion that they are being looked down upon by their white counterparts. I personally find it exceedingly frustrating when I am automatically grouped into a category that defines me as narrow-minded racist.
In a similar vein, the double standard in the accepted language and behavior of blacks when contrasted to whites in regard to racism today is alarming. Black Americans can get away with speaking much more openly about whites, while if a white person is to make a racial reference pertaining to a black person, they are almost instantaneously labeled as an avid racist. It seems as though whites often have to practice circumlocution when addressing an issue of race — lest they be too blunt, forward or unwittingly offensive.
Kamau Kambon, bookstore owner and affiliated faculty at the North Carolina State University elucidates my point. The C-SPAN broadcasted words of Kambon have been generally overlooked by American society. Addressing a panel on Hurricane Katrina media coverage at the Howard University Law School, Kambon exhibited alarming effrontery, claiming that "white people want to kill us." He proceeded to go on a near eight-minute rant, traducing whites and declaring that the only plausible solution to the "problem" was to expurgate the world of whites. I can soundly guarantee that if a white man were to make such hostile remarks regarding the ideation to eradicate the world of blacks, he would be met with large volumes of uproar, strike and odium. But you have probably never heard of Kambon, and so I rest my case.
While Kambon's racist remarks have earned him no penalty, Don Imus' discriminatory comment cost him his livelihood. Hosting live from MSNBC, Imus bumptiously called the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hoes." For his denigration of the black women on the team, Imus was fired. If it was justifiable to oust Imus, why then do the exceptionally offensive words of Kambon go largely unnoticed?
The erstwhile struggle between blacks and whites in America trickles into modern social issues, maculating what should be a harmonious existence. If we could collectively dissolve our differences and instead focus on the grounds of our shared humanity, American society would have a far more sanguine future.
Jenna Greenfield is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.