Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

United States much recognize it's racist past

Heritage High School officials recently reported the student who found two letters littered with racial slurs allegedly lied. East Allen County Schools officials said there was only one letter found, not two, and it was in a classroom lab table rather than left in a student’s locker.

Citizens of Monroeville and others believe the student should be expelled. Their wishes have been granted as the student has been suspended for a week as the investigation continues.
Suspensions shouldn’t stop there. School officials need to produce the author of the racist letter and deal with that accordingly. Only time will tell how situation will end as new information continues to unfold.

Racial incidents occur more than we care to acknowledge. The media typically don’t care to shed lengthy attention to racism because it’s a touchy topic for most. Few care to adopt the open mind necessary to hammer away and make change. The only way to advance forward is to not deny the presence of racism and deal with it head on.

When the Heritage High School story first broke, it brought back unpleasant memories for me. I’ve had racial slurs hurled at me. I’ve been called a nigger by racists.

I particularly remember two incidents that occurred my freshman year at Indiana University, Bloomington. I walked my girlfriend to her dorm room in Wright Quad. I lived in a neighboring dorm (Wilkie), which was about a mile walk. As I walking solo that fall evening, I encountered a group of white male students who gave me dirty looks and proceeded to hit me with a litany of racial slurs. After being called more “niggers” than I cared to hear, I struck back verbally. I proceeded to my dorm room wondering what had I done besides be African American to induce such a racial tirade.

In the second incident, I was walking down the street after class near Read Hall. I noticed a car full of white males had slowed down to match the pace I was walking. The male in the passenger side rolled his window down and said, “hey you f------ nigger,” then proceeded to spit at me. His words solicited universal laughter from his cronies as I tried to make sense of what transpired. I stood on the sidewalk as the car sped away, extremely angry and confused.

Twenty years ago I couldn’t really understand why the color of my skin could arouse such hate. I wasn’t emotionally equipped to deal with such occurrences because I simply didn’t know how. I didn’t fully understand the historical development of this country and how racism has played an integral part in shaping American history like I do now. Through a combination of life experiences and increased intelligence I now have the ability to articulate the complex feelings I experienced.

How do you deal with racism? First, the key to ridding a problem is to first acknowledge one exists. Secondly, the root cause must be clearly identified.

Centuries ago Americas “founding fathers” erected a perennial system of oppression that still reigns supreme. They planted the initial seeds of racism via legislation and allowed American slavery to thrive. Those initial seeds of hate have now fully blossomed as racism continues to meticulously divide this country socially, politically and economically.

The founding fathers created many of the racial slurs that exist; they coined the use of the word nigger and all of its derivatives. Yes, hearing the N-word hurts, but to me it’s not so much the word itself as it’s perceived meaning. When an African American is called a nigger it implies inferiority, it means your place is second class, it means you belong to a subordinate class of beings who lack rights and respect from white America. In essence it means you (African Americans) are nothing.

Racists utilize their lingo to oppress and break the collective souls of African Americans. Racists embrace the notion they are superior. They believe they have a sense power and entitlement that’s been handed down from Americas’ original brain trust. That’s why the late Marge Schott, who once owned the Cincinnati Reds, felt she could refer to two of her players as “million dollar niggers.” That’s why a shock Jock like Don Imus can call African American women “nappy headed ho’s” and simply get another gig.

Looking at the Heritage High School situation, the two incidents I encountered and beyond I believe neither the victims nor perpetrators are at fault. The American system that initially produced such hate and social division is at fault. There’s no way around it – America cannot progress until the initial seeds of racism planted are acknowledged and addressed with an open mind.

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