Sunday, December 11, 2005

Race Relations Are Rosy

It's probably best to teach racism to young people so that they are well trained by the time they get to college:
A Colorado football player has been suspended and his girlfriend, a cross-country runner, has quit the sports program after being accused of sending a racist e-mail to an Hispanic member of the cross-country team.

The e-mail included a reference to dragging the man behind a car, recalling an incident in 1998 in Texas when a black man was dragged to his death. The two athletes were cited for harassment and ethnic intimidation.

...A police report said O’Neal and Zeigle, who are both white, sent the typo-filled message to Greg Castro. It called Castro a “river rat” and “border hopper.” The message suggested O’Neal would drag Castro behind his car.
Furthermore, we should not allow any "non-American" culture to permeate our schools:
But Zach is also fluent in his dad's native language, Spanish -- and that's what got him suspended from school.

"It was, like, totally not in the classroom," the high school junior said, recalling the infraction. "We were in the, like, hall or whatever, on restroom break. This kid I know, he's like, 'Me prestas un dolar?' ['Will you lend me a dollar?'] Well, he asked in Spanish; it just seemed natural to answer that way. So I'm like, 'No problema.' "

But that conversation turned out to be a big problem for the staff at the Endeavor Alternative School, a small public high school in an ethnically mixed blue-collar neighborhood. A teacher who overheard the two boys sent Zach to the office, where Principal Jennifer Watts ordered him to call his father and leave the school.

Watts, whom students describe as a disciplinarian, said she can't discuss the case. But in a written "discipline referral" explaining her decision to suspend Zach for 1 1/2 days, she noted: "This is not the first time we have [asked] Zach and others to not speak Spanish at school."
I'm not saying all, or even most Americans are racist and xenophobic. Not at all. But racism is still surprisingly prevalent in this country and is something that should be addressed. Back in August I wanted to discuss race problems in the U.S. but then Katrina happened and our failure to address the racial inequalities was shown dramatically on all the networks.

Speaking of Katrina, it's off the radar screen these days. The House recently had a hearing on this that is worth taking a look at. When LBJ signed historic civil rights legislation he said that Democrats were giving away the southern vote for a generation. But that generation is aging and a new generation--a more culturally and ethnically diverse generation--is coming of age. We can't stop the increase in diversity, but our generation can embrace it and make it work like no other generation has been able to.

There are many causes our generation can, and should, address. I think poverty is one. But I also think race relations is another. The potential of this generation is exciting. I hope we live up to that potential.


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