Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Still Trucking Along

While I envision one day living in an America that no longer sees race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and/or ethnicity as the basis of how view and think we know someone, certain segments of society hold Americans back from this dream. Some people, as this article states, are scared of change. Many people think that racist, bigoted, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic people are dying out, yet the acts committed on college campuses speak against that. Unluckily many young people grow up and are products of their environment. Unlucky that is, when they learn stereotypes and narrow ways of thinking reinforced by family, friends, and/or their local community. This can be amplified by stereotypical images they see on television programs, the news and movies that continuously depict people in negative and stereotypical terms. What people like me, and hopefully like you, can do is try to educate people that are misinformed, question the media (news and entertainment) for more fair and equal representations on television, and basically by showing others that you are like them with the same needs, feelings, and wants as they have. And as a side-note, I do not believe the McCain camp themselves are responsible for views like this, even if these people do support him. This surpasses Republican/Democratic lines in that these people are just misinformed racists.

Ugly Election Incidents Show Lingering U.S. Racism

By Carey Gillam – Wed Oct 22, 3:36 pm ET

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) – Two weeks before an election that could install the first black U.S. president, scattered ugly incidents have reflected a deep residue of racism among some segments of white America.
A cardboard likeness of Barack Obama was found strung from fishing wire at a university, the Democratic presidential nominee's face was depicted on mock food stamps, the body of a black bear was left at another university with Obama posters attached to it.
Though the incidents are sporadic and apparently isolated, they stirred up memories of the violent racial past of a country where segregation and lynchings only ended within the last 50 years.
And some feared that Obama could be a target for people who reject him on racial grounds alone. The Illinois senator leads Republican rival John McCain in polls ahead of the November 4 election and has a big following in many sections of Americans, from liberals to conservatives, black and white, poor and wealthy.
"Many whites feel they are losing their country right before their eyes," said Mark Potok, who directs the Southern Poverty Law Center that monitors hate groups. "What we are seeing at this moment is the beginning of a real backlash."
Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said the incidents were disappointing but he said there were fewer than some had predicted.
"We've always acknowledged that race is not something that's been eradicated from our politics," said Axelrod. "But we've never felt that it would be an insuperable barrier and I don't think that it will be."
The latest incident occurred on Monday when the body of bear cub was found on the campus of Western Carolina University in North Carolina. Obama campaign signs were placed around the dead animal's head. School officials said it was a prank.
Earlier a cardboard likeness of Obama was strung up with fishing wire from a tree at a university in Oregon and an Ohio man hung a figure bearing an Obama sign from a tree in his yard. The man told local media he didn't want to see an African-American running the country.
Potok said the displays of racism did not appear orchestrated as part of a campaign of racial intimidation, but were rather the acts of angry individuals. Their voices are often heard in radio call-back shows or letters to editors.
Many Americans "see the rise of minority rights, gay rights, women's rights as a threat to the world they grew up in and that their parents grew up in. They see huge demographic changes," he said.
"They see jobs disappearing to other countries, and now they see a man who is African American and who will very likely become president of the United States. For some of those people that symbolizes the end of the world as they know it."
He estimated there were as many as 800 white supremacy or nationalist groups in the United States, with at least 100,000 as "an inner core" of membership and many more on the fringes.
One such group, the League of American Patriots, last month distributed literature about why a "black ruler" would destroy the country.
Michigan State University professor Ronald Hall, writing in his new book "Racism in the 21st Century," said racism remains one of the most pressing U.S. social problems, though it now takes forms that are more subtle than the lynchings and mob violence seen decades ago in some parts of the country.
Some groups tagged with racist acts deny the charge.
In California, a Republican group said it intended no racial overtone when its October newsletter depicted a fake food stamp bearing a likeness of Obama's head on a donkey's body surrounded by fried chicken, watermelon and other images evoking insulting stereotypes about African-Americans.
Some acts have targeted not Obama's black heritage -- his father was Kenyan and his white mother was from Kansas -- but the false notion that he is a Muslim.

Read the rest of the article here.

And watch the accompanying video here.

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