I see from a couple of different websites that there was another episode of the ‘knock out’ game in the last few days; this one involved a white disabled military vet on public transportation in the city of Cleveland, attacked and beaten in public by a group of black teenagers. There have been so many of these incidents reported in the last two years or so – usually appearing briefly on the surface of the mainstream news metro section like a bubble, popping and vanishing. Very often the color of the perpetrators is not even noted in the ‘official’ statements, but so cynical are we consumers of news becoming that we know that this means the perpetrators are of color, just as we know that when the political party of a miscreant in the news is not mentioned, (or mentioned very far down in the story) that the miscreant is a Democrat. These stories are, in the parlance those who track pop music hits, bubbling under. Not in the top forty – or in a manner of speaking – at the top of national news. But they happen, and appear to be happening quite frequently; the incidents appear to be covered in local news, and then the news cycle moves on. Until it happens again, in another urban area … but it would be not the done thing for any major national news outlet, politician or public intellectual to note a larger pattern. Nope, don’t want to be called a racist, so the note – if any – is quietly made at a local level, (or in certain English dailies) and we all move on, although the dead victims of these exercises certainly can’t move on. Their kin and loved ones, and those who are merely injured or traumatized must have to make considerable of an effort to do so, though.
Upon the first election of Barack Obama as President in 2008, I cheered myself up with the thought that well, maybe now that we had elected a person of some color, that the ultimate racial barrier was broken and could we now move on from the assumption that the US is the most raaaaacist nation ever? There had to be some good come of this; that the African-American-Black-persons-of-color demographic makes up only about 12-13 percent, and it must be significant that more than just that 12-13 percent voted for him, after all. Alas, even this forlorn hope has been crushed, and I honestly have to say that race relations have worsened in practically every way in the last five years. This is based on what I read in print publications, hear about in broadcast news and media, and on various news aggregate sites. It’s not based on what I have experienced personally in my neighborhood – where relations between black, Hispanic and Anglo are about as amiable as ever, and a considerable improvement over what they had been three-quarters of a century ago. But these hard-won advances in mutual toleration of racial and cultural differences are being pissed away, and it seems as if this is happening faster and faster.
Every time an incident of the ‘knock out game’ is hastily swept under the rug, every incident of a mob of black youths going on a rampage at an urban mall, convenience store or department store is ignored – in spite of video footage of it posted on YouTube by the perpetrators – every time a horrific black-on-white crime is ignored by the national media in favor of breathless wall-to-wall coverage of those few occasions when the colors are reversed, every time a buffoon like Al Sharpton in a $1,000 suit accuses Tea Partiers of being motivated solely by racism, every time a member of the tenured ivory tower elite bleats on about white privilege … eventually otherwise well-meaning persons of pallor who really haven’t gained much from that so-called white privilege become just a little less tolerant. Resentful – angry, even.
I do not see this going anywhere good, at this rate. Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, once chided Americans for being cowardly in discussing race, back at the dawn of his tenure. At the time, I chalked this up to just another demand for white Americans to be silent and apologetic whilst being hectored one more time by the usual race relations ambulance chasers. But at this rate, we might just very well be having an extremely frank and open discussion sometime soon. Probably not the one that Attorney General Holder was expecting, though. Discuss and share your insights.