It’s amazing what one month can do to show us we still haven’t settled the question of race in America. In September alone we’ve had:
- The massive protests last week in Jena, Louisiana, reminiscent of the 1960’s civil rights era, over racially charged incidents at a local high school and what many view as the unjustly harsh sentences of six black teenagers for beating a white schoolmate.
- The Rev. Jesse Jackson’s accusation that presidential candidate Barack Obama, whom he has endorsed, was “acting like he’s white” because of his measured response to the “Jena 6” episode.
- Continuing fallout from the Michael Vick dogfighting case, with indictments on state charges in Virginia announced this week and a town hall meeting on the “Vick Divide” in Atlanta sponsored by ESPN that was so racially contentious that even the local director of the American Humane Society was shouted down for pointing out the horrific acts Vick committed against defenseless animals.
- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, widely regarded as the poster child for successful black athletes, stating in comments aired this month on HBO’s Real Sports that black quarterbacks are subject to more scrutiny and criticism than white quarterbacks.
- The noose found hanging from a tree in front of a cultural center serving primarily minority students at the University of Maryland in College Park.
- O.J. Simpson back in the news with the publication of the controversial book, “If I Did It” by Fred Goldman, the father of murder victim Ron Goldman, after he was awarded the rights to the manuscript in which Simpson “hypothetically” describes how the murders of Goldman and Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson went down. Oh, yes, he’s back in jail also after being arrested for armed robbery and kidnapping over some sports memorabilia he claims was his.
- Bill O’Reilly’s comments about his dinner date with the Rev. Al Sharpton in which he appeared to express surprise at the quality of service and the well-mannered customers at a Harlem restaurant owned and patronized by blacks. He argues that he was speaking of the contrast between his experiences and the views of most Americans whose perceptions about blacks are influenced by the rap and hip-hop culture, and how important it is for whites to get out more.
- Five of the Republican candidates for President, including the four front-runners, snubbing a long-scheduled minority issues debate at a historically black university. Some, including many Republicans, have criticized the no-shows for not attempting to engage minority voters, while others say there’s no reason for them to show up at a forum where they are likely to be vilified by a hostile and immovable audience.
Pretty unbelievable, isn’t it? These are just the newsworthy items, and there are probably several more in the news that I missed and even more that take place every day outside of press scrutiny. Personally, the events of this month regarding race have me in a state of despair over the topic and it was the Vick town hall meeting that put me over the edge.