Welcome To Race Relations

Racerelations.net was created to give visitors a web site where people can read essays on race that depict all kinds of racial issues in a forthright, thoughtful, honest, sober, but sometimes lighthearted environment. Perhaps you are involved in an interracial relationship on a personal, social, or professional level and have often felt awkward about asking a member of another race about real and perceived cultural differences.  Maybe you have been reluctant to ask certain questions due to fear of being misunderstood, looking foolish, getting into a verbal altercation, or even worse.  As time goes on, Race Relations hopes to address some of your questions, or at least give you the courage to overcome your own personal obstacles, so that you can begin to feel comfortable with exploring the feelings of members of different races and ethnic groups.

Perhaps you have been a victim of racial profiling , institutional racism, or some other form of racial discrimination or outright racism. Race Relations may be the catalyst for you to share your thoughts, and be enriched or enlightened by the thoughts of others. Of course when speaking on racial issues, such as racism  in America or other areas of the world, there are many varied opinions.  Many beliefs and thoughts about race are based solely on hate, false characterizations, stereotypes  and/or misunderstanding.  Race Relations hopes to winnow out the ignorance that causes division, build bridges to common ground, and ultimately promote multiculturalism and ethnic diversity.

I ask you to read the vignettes and longer essays on race with an open mind. Though you may not agree with every point that I make, remember that the ultimate purpose of Race Relations is to facilitate racial harmony, and make the world a better place.

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For Black Americans, The American Flag Evokes Mixed Emotions

Just like a few American holidays, July 4th, also known as Independence Day, is a time when Americans fly the American flag in honor of America and all that she represents.  As for me, there was a time when I would have resisted flying Old Glory, much less take pride in it. As stated in my poem “Lingering Reality”:

As awful and unpatriotic as it may seem to you
I laugh at the thought of the “Red, White and Blue”.
It symbolizes freedom justice and equality
(But the flag doesn’t mean a thing to me).
It is just a piece of cloth which symbolizes words.
True freedom, justice and equality are totally absurd.

But after maturing and evolving from the “militant radical” that I was once called, it is my opinion that there is nothing wrong with flying Old Glory. I have come to realize that regardless of the racial, social and economic ills within this country, it is still the place where I was born and raised. It is the country where my ancestors battled and died so that I could have the freedom that I have today. I realize that this country’s industry, infrastructure, and economic prowess are in large measure built upon the blood, sweat and tears of black men and women. In this sense ,and spirit, I take pride in my country. This is my country, regardless if I am subject to institutional racism and socioeconomic inequities, and I am loath to allow others’ actions hijack my ideals of the America that I know can become a reality.

Black Americans are too easy to discount the ongoing struggle of our people when we proclaim that America is not our country. Even in all its imperfections and injustices, America is the birthplace of African-Americans, and the American flag symbolizes the spirit upon which America is based—the spirit of freedom. We must remember that it is not the flag that is the problem within America, it is the people who fly the flag without reflecting on what the flag truly represents.

Ironically, it is for this very same reason why many blacks will never fly Old Glory. Why should I, as a black person, fly the flag of a nation that systematically treats me as a second class citizen? To be sure, in the eyes of many blacks, the sight of the American flag evokes images of hypocrisy.  The person that said “time heals all wounds” didn’t address whether deeper wounds take more time to heal. But, regardless, if today’s state of race relations in America is any indication, then fresh wounds upon black skin is still being inflicted, and the American flag is but a bandage that is still presently being soaked with African-American blood.

The Confederate Flag is better left in the past

If you look near the bottom-right of this page in the dark block, you will see where I have referenced the evil that is racism. I really do believe that “to neglect, hinder, or hate someone because of their skin color is a perverse ideology born of depraved men from a darker age.” Well, the Confederacy was part of that darker age, and its Confederate Flag is still flying during these dark days.

Well the Bible says what is done in the dark will come to light, and as Americans try to work out the ugly realization about unjust treatment and killings of black Americans by police officers, now we are forced into facing the heinous acts of Dylann Roof who wantonly murdered nine African-Americans at a Charleston, South Carolina church…simply because they were black. And like many white supremacists and racists, Roof was obviously enamored with the Confederate flag as can be seen in several images circulating across the Internet. Like other racists, Roof associates the Confederate flag with being a worthy white American who essentially champions exploitation, discrimination and segregation of other Americans based upon race.

It is a shame that some Americans want to hang their crosses on a flag that is the icon for a country that was (and still is) divided among cultural, economic, and, yes, racial lines. The time for the Confederate flag upon government buildings in America should have died with the defeat of the Confederacy back in the 1860s. That was the time for the Confederate flag to fly. But when the American flag, as well as the principles upon which it stands, was hoisted in victory at the end of the American Civil War, it is the American flag—Old Glory–that truly righteous and right-minded American lawmakers should have prioritized and revered as an icon for the United States.

The Confederate flag has its place, just like other symbols of yesteryear in America. But the Confederate flag should not be revered because there is too much pain and division woven into its fabric. Sure, the pain should never be forgotten, and that’s why we have books, museums and memorials, but the division need not be exalted. Unfortunately the two can never—and should never—be separated, just like America should still not be separated along racial and socioeconomic lines in the modern world.

American lawmakers, wherever you are, need to lay the debate about the Confederate flag to rest. Let the pain and division rest. Finally place the flag of the Confederacy in its appropriate place: museums and history books.  America’s leaders, and others, need to weave and exalt a more noble American fabric that is unquestionably inclusive of all of its people.

Why I, as a black man, will probably never be a Republican

I registered as a Democrat because it was the thing to do. Most of my family members were (and are) Democrats, and I heard that Democrats were the “party for black people.” Moreover, nearly all the persons that I know of that support the Confederate flag are proud Republicans. And since registering as a Democrat—by default—before the 1988 presidential election, I now know that I was right not to become a Republican.

I can honestly say that I am not an advocate of the two-party political system. I often think about changing to an Independent or other nominal party. But, if I ever had the slightest notion to affiliate myself with the Republican Party, the 2004 presidential election may have irrevocably destroyed any thought of my switching my allegiance to the GOP. Reports of what I deem to be a not-so-well-hidden Republican conspiracy to suppress the black vote were rampant. Florida’s governor at that time, Jeb Bush, used his old tricks of making lists of potential felons. This was his modus operandi to disenfranchise thousands of blacks in the 2000 election. Out of the 90,000 people on that list, reportedly 80 percent were deemed not to be felons. In 2004, outrage in the black community resulted in Bush publicly rescinding the list, but the list was still available to his staff. Moreover, in Florida and other states there were reports of: police blockades of major roads in black communities that made it difficult for people to get to the polls; threats to be jailed for outstanding parking tickets, utility bills and/or rent; people impersonating plainclothes police officers outside of polls asking for identification; and, real election officials unlawfully asking for additional identification. As an American, these actions are truly disgusting and reprehensible to me.

And then, there are the more blatant examples of a right-wing Republican conspiracy to disenfranchise voters in the 2004 election. The Secretary of State of Ohio during 2004, Kenneth Blackwell, advised boards of elections to reject any new registration application that was not on 80-pound card stock. No matter that the Cleveland newspaper, The Plain Dealer, engaged in public service by having voter registration forms printed in their newspaper. State officials knew that a substantial percentage of the newly registered voters were black.  Moreover, in Nevada, a private firm, Voter Outreach of America, was hired by the Republican National Committee to register new voters. Reportedly, supervisors ripped up and discarded registration forms of those registering as Democrats. And, again, many of the unsuspecting victims of the fraud were black. National Republican sentiment can probably be best exemplified by John Papageorge, a Michigan State Representative at that time, when speaking about Detroit which is more than 75 percent black said, “If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election.”

Now how can any Republican expect to get the support of a substantial number of black Americans when they resort to such chicanery and anti-American values? How do they expect black Americans, or any American for that matter, to have faith in government when they have shown that they will attempt to usurp the will of the people by bending, if not outright breaking the law and spirit of the law? And regarding felons, why is it that they don’t have the right to vote, especially after they have served their time? The law to prevent felons from voting has its origins during the post-Civil War era with all of its racist undertones. These despicable attempts to suppress votes and undermine our system of democracy go hand in hand with Republican ideologies. These ideologies flirt with oligarchic, plutocratic, fascist and other governmental systems that survive by using manipulation and exploitation. To consistently vote for the “haves” and vote against the “have-nots” is immoral. That’s why I, like many black Americans, do not put much faith or credence in groups like the Christian Coalition that align them-selves with the GOP. If Republicans can legislate laws that enable them to horde all the money and resources, or send them overseas to protect their interests, while millions of Americans are in need, then the Christian Coalition—which consists of thousands of Republicans—should stop using the Lord’s name in vain.

Moreover, there are the under-reported instances in which persons wearing John Kerry paraphernalia were thrown out of campaign rallies for the 2004 Republican presidential ticket. Three teachers were threatened with arrest for wearing T-shirts that said, “Protect our civil liberties.” Moreover, there were two persons arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol during a rally because they were wearing T-shirts that said “Love America, Hate Bush.” These accounts of trying to silence American citizens’ rights to free speech is, well, incredulous.

Now, more than a decade after Republicans first began letting their true spots show in regards to free elections, they now are passing laws to further disenfranchise largely elderly black Americans by requiring voter IDs, as well as striking down policies that would allow many working Americans to vote early, during times that may be more convenient because of work schedules or transportation issues.  I don’t mind requiring voter IDs, but for many people (including a good percentage of blacks) getting to administrative offices, as well as paying for fees associated with obtaining up-to-date state identification, can be a real hindrance to exercising their right to vote.  The fact is that many Republicans just don’t want these people to vote, or else they would facilitate ways that would make registering, voting and even obtaining required identification easier.  These things can be done if lawmakers who actually believe in free elections have the will to do it.

Lastly, perhaps the most insidious way that Republicans have disenfranchised voters, including black and Hispanic voters, is by gerrymandering.  All over America, Republican legislatures have redrawn voting districts in such a way that packs Democrats in tight districts, while making sure that the majority of districts have a Republican majority, thereby diluting the Democratic effectiveness.  For example, as reported by Billmoyers.com, ” In the 2014 midterm elections, Democrats in North Carolina secured only three out of 13 seats (23 percent of NC’s congressional delegation) even though Democratic candidates in that state won about 44 percent of the vote”.  Now, to be fair the Democrats used the practice to a lesser effect, but just like other in-your-face tactics that have been used by Republicans to exploit blacks, Hispanics and other needy peoples in America as of late, the gerrymandering used in the last few years has been prolific and pervasive.  And, though legal at the moment, it is highly unethical and makes a mockery of the values upon which the American Constitution is based.

The whole way of Republican thinking is perverse and hypocritical. Though I realize that there are many problems within the Democratic Party, including some of the same perverse issues that pervade the GOP, I almost feel like it’s mandatory to vote for a straight Democratic Party ticket in every election.  After being one of the millions of victims in a hijacked presidential election in 2000, then hearing numerous reports of Republican attempts to disenfranchise voters—of whom a disproportionate number were black—in the 2004 election, how can any black American affiliate himself or herself with the Republican Party in good conscience? After seeing Republicans blatantly attempt to quell free speech, how can anyone align him or herself with the GOP? For a party that espouses to stand atop the pedestal of moral values (if not Christian values), the Republican Party and its supporters lose their footing and fall into the mud of selfishness, deception, and sometimes downright racism, when they fail to sincerely atone for the sins of their heritage. Forthrightly addressing social and economic problems that not only exist in many black neighborhoods, but other poor communities as well, will be the only solution for baptizing this nation of its sins. This is the only way to build the great legacy of true freedom, opportunity, equality and justice for all, upon which America stands.