Thorny and complex are just two words that describe race relations in the United States. Young Americans or more correctly stated, young world citizens, entered into the twenty-first century as the most technologically-advanced, globally-connected, high speed generation to date. Progressiveness, globalism, democracy, racial equality and religious tolerance are among the many hallmarks boasted of our era.
However, this is only one side of our composition. While extreme conservatism, xenophobia, racism and religious persecution arguably have been and continue to be mitigated, the avenues for insidious displays of any one of these –isms have transformed and multiplied.
Have you turned on the news lately? Ever watched the Cleveland show? Or better yet, do you laugh at racial jokes? With waves of new immigrant groups crossing American borders everyday and domestic minority populations steadily growing –and no I do not speak from a conservative point a view –America has become a sanctuary for a number of races and ethnic groups.
In this day, it’s no longer about Jim Crow Laws, Japanese internment camps, or second-class citizenry. Racism takes on a much more subtle form. Carrying with it the head-shaking shame of the past, the racist card is now played with a new face. We have all probably laughed at a racist joke or two, and contrary to popular belief, racism is not only directed towards underrepresented minorities. Racist humor has unquestionably resisted the test of time. Just tune in to your cable television provider’s next episode of Family Guy, South Park, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Mad TV and the like. Granted these are more in-your-face examples where we see how much racism is still very much alive in Gen Y. Racial profiling, hatemongering, and affirmative action are nonetheless just a few of racism’s latest upgrades.
A friend of mine said to me the other day, “He’s so cute and you know I mean it because I’m not even into black guys like that.” Initially, I laughed and an hour later, I began writing this article. My feelings weren’t hurt. I knew that she meant nothing of it and was merely being sincere. Nevertheless, it made me remember many of the other experiences that we live through day-to-day. While newer issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and terrorism have come to overshadow understated yet daily public concerns, our generation still scuffles with the weight of the past.
Having attended a majority, private institution which costs a whopping $48,000/year , I never heard the end of the complaints of reverse racism or how affirmative action is no longer needed because it only helps minoritie and how white students are at a disadvantage when applying to college. My natural response is pretty much always the same: (1) Give me a detailed example of your experience with reverse racism. (2) How many jobs have applied for lately where you list yourself as being a person of a race other than white? (3) How many of the people in your family hold a bachelors degree or higher? And finally (4) Have you ever been labeled a token?
Race will always be an issue in some form or another as long as it continues to be codified in our legal system, proliferated in news and media, and negatively addressed in our everyday conversation. Concepts do not vanish. They simply evolve over time for better or for worse.