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Racism is still a pervasive problem

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 12:06 am

We don’t need to look further than the pages of this newspaper to see how racism still plagues this entire country. But we can.

In case you missed it in the Halloween issue of the Alligator, there was a front-page story discouraging students from wearing culturally insensitive costumes.

Although this seems unnecessary in what is supposed to be a post-racial society — we elected President Barack Obama, didn’t we? — it is necessary after last year’s blackface incident and that recent case of racist and sexist catcalling.

Those are just two examples of not-so-isolated racist episodes happening on our campus.

Something has to be done. We can talk about it for starters. That’s always good. Even that doesn’t happen enough.

The real problem with racism, though, is that it’s ingrained everywhere, from TV shows with predominantly white casts to Congress. But those aren’t the only institutions infected by racism.

In New York City, home of the stop and frisk, a judge was kicked off a case regarding the issue by failing to uphold the “appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation,” according to the New York Times.

Apparently, Judge Shira Scheindlin was removed from the case because she exercised her First Amendment right to talk about the trial — and only to defend herself from accusations from being impartial. Not only was she removed, but her decision to reform stop and frisk has been temporarily held as well. So there goes the First and Fourth Amendments in one fell swoop.

I know what it’s like to have privilege. I am a white male, and I won’t even pretend to truly understand the oppression people of color face.

But I do know that in 2012, more than 284,000 black people were stopped by police officers without probable cause and searched, a violation of their constitutional rights. That’s five and a half times the number of white people stopped in a similar manner, according to data from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

But here’s the worst part: There’s no proof stop and frisk reduces crime at all, and even though crime has fallen in New York City since its implementation, other cities like Los Angeles and New Orleans had greater reduction in crime without relying on the policy.

We don’t live in a post-racial society. Many claim we do, often citing Obama’s presidency as proof. It is fantastic that we elected a black man as our commander in chief. It is an important step. Don’t forget that after he took office, multiple high-profile white people — not to mention ordinary citizens — were quick to demand Obama’s birth certificate, not believing he was American because of his race.

Institutional racism on this scale affects every aspect of people’s lives.

An American Economic Review study found that job applicants with black-sounding names received 50 percent fewer callbacks than applicants with white-sounding names. Since 1954, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began consistently keeping unemployment data by race, the unemployment rate for black people has averaged 2.2 times that of white people.

My goal here is not to demonize white people or start some kind white-guilt conquest. It’s just that we, as a country, don’t talk about this. Conversations start change.

These numbers are appalling. Many people can’t fathom discrimination on this level, but it is the reality of our society. And there’s strength in numbers. The more equal everyone is, the greater our achievements as a country will be. It’s time to shed the false consciousness and realize we really are one nation, indivisible, united for justice for all.

Justin Jones is a journalism senior. His column appears on Thursdays. A version of this column ran on page 6 on 11/7/2013 under the headline "Racism is still a pervasive problem"

Welcome to the discussion.

8 comments:

  • Romulan posted at 3:12 am on Sat, Nov 9, 2013.

    Romulan Posts: 492

    I already said that many black people fall into this category in this country. I also said I think it is a choice, at least to a certain extent. I know and have known many black people. Those from other countries seem to have a serious mentality, without what I will call 'cultural baggage' clouding their every thought and action. About half of the black people I know, mostly people born here, fall into either group - victims vs. winners. Obama is living proof that black people can work and succeed. But so were George Washington Carver and plenty of others.

    I think it is okay to scrutinize people based on your common sense. I might suspect that someone wearing a grateful dead watch might do drugs. I might or might not care. It depends on the position as to what would or wouldn't matter. Being able to be part of an existing team might or might not be a factor. Certainly I would give anyone of any race a fair chance in the hiring process. I would be looking for winners.

     
  • my2cents posted at 7:22 pm on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    my2cents Posts: 16

    First, I admit that Romulan's position would be much stronger if he would say under what conditions he would hire someone regardless of race rather than continually saying what he would not do. If he is still monitoring this discussion, I would be interested in his response.
    As for Uncle B's, your first response was at best an inference about Romulan and what he might do and not a logical conclusion. What is was not was an identification of issues identified by Romulan and a reasoned response to them.

    You wanted to know what point did not have merit. Let me start by addressing the one that does. Romulan raises the issue that considering certain behavior as unacceptable shouldn't be considered "racist" just because some people of a particular race insist it is part of their culture. If Romulan actually believes that all people of a particular race believe and behave the same, then he is wrong. However, if he believes that are limitation on what should be acceptable behavior regardless of race, he has a valid point.. He also appears to be frustrated with affirmative action which also has merit.

    While I do think that "race hustlers" do exist and are detrimental to race relations, I find it inappropriate to wish for anyone to die.

    His comments about statistics is pointless sarcasm , since sarcasm is not an argument

    As for the column itself, it has a number of flawed statements which would require an additional post to address.

     
  • Romulan posted at 2:50 pm on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Romulan Posts: 492

    Mostly, Uncle B, I would not want to hire someone I think goes through life acting like a helpless victim of a society that owes him/her something, ready to protest this or that as soon as Al Sharpton says so. People who take personal responsibility for getting things done, even if they have to work extra-hard and make other sacrifices, would make better employees. Such people probably do speak and present themselves better, but that is a secondary effect. I hope that is more clear for you.

     
  • Uncle B posted at 8:43 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Uncle B Posts: 260

    My comment was the logical conclusion reached after reading Romulan's comment.

    After all, why would anyone want to hire a person who "commits more crimes," "reacts like a mob," and "chooses to dress/act/speak differently"???

    I insulted his character, really? Just by stating the obvious based on his own words?

    By the way my2cents, which of Romulan's points don't have merit?

     
  • my2cents posted at 9:27 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    my2cents Posts: 16

    The comments to this column are a perfect example of why conversations about race are so difficult. Romulan makes some points in response to the column, some have some merit others don't. Instead of responding to his comments, Uncle B. insults his character. If people really want to have a serious conversation about race, everyone is going to take other peoples views seriously and not respond with personal insults.

     
  • Romulan posted at 3:38 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Romulan Posts: 492

    I would never hire a "person of color" simply to fill a quota. I'd be more likely to hire based on testing that I would administer or at least oversee. And no, there wouldn't be any extra points given based on skin color on my tests, sorry Uncle B.

     
  • Uncle B posted at 10:42 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Uncle B Posts: 260

    I think we all now know that Romulan would never hire a person of color if he had the opportunity...

     
  • Romulan posted at 4:49 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Romulan Posts: 492

    Many black people in the USA choose to have practically a separate culture within our "indivisible" nation. Can you really blame employers for not wanting to hire people who choose to set themselves apart and dress/act/speak differently than the rest of the business world? How about a group of people who react like a mob any time one individual may have been wronged? Is that the type of mentality you would ever want in an employee?

    The crime statistics speak for themselves. Perhaps we should ban/outlaw statistics because they might be offensive to certain reactionary liberals who can't handle reality. Perhaps we should silence black people like Bill Cosby and Chris Rock because they speak out against obvious problems within the black subculture, since we all know that all black people are victims.

    What is Obama's approval rating? Is the next black president soon to follow? It is generally accepted that Obama has harmed race relations in this country.

    We don't need future Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons, or other race-hustlers. Let them die off, both personally and as a genre. Learn to forget and move on. We don't need to figure out ways to make everyone a victim. Spend your time and energy bettering yourself if you want to get hired for a job in spite of being part of a group of people who are known to want to act/talk/dress differently, commit more crimes relative to the overall population, overreact to events in the media that don't personally affect them (e.g. other people's Halloween costumes), etc.

    I think it's hard to have it both ways - to have people want to hire you, and to be part of a culture that cultivates a psychology of victimhood, entitlement, and lack of personal responsibility. Pick one or the other.