I have news for these conservatives. America is a long way from racial harmony and black civil rights leaders know it even if some Pollyannas want to stick their heads in the sand or blather on about how we don't have "colored" drinking fountains in the South anymore.
I recently offered here some pungent examples of the nasty race baiting that has polluted the nation's airwaves since the Martin verdict. Many black Americans were stunned that George Zimmerman could stalk and gun down an unarmed black teenager and walk away from his crime, rightly believing that if it had been the other way around, Trayvon would already be on death row in Florida.
Rush Limbaugh, who (shamefully) speaks for today's conservative movement, chortled on about he could now say "nigga" with an "a" because that's not racist.
I take issue with the comments of another MDJ columnist who recently wrote, "We know we have worked hard to improve race relations, only to have the nation’s first black President join (Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson) and become a divider."
No, President Obama spoke out, quite eloquently, on the shooting of Trayvon and how many African-Americans feel justice was not served in his case and that, as Americans, we can do better. His remarks were even applauded by his 2008 nemesis, Sen. John McCain. The president has also addressed, repeatedly, black-on-black violence while noting that the lack of economic opportunity for young black men leads to a disproportionate number of them committing crimes.
Perhaps the writer didn't listen to the president's speech. If he had, he would have heard this:
"I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn’t mean that we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues.
"(W) e should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union -- not a perfect union, but a more perfect union."
"My sense of betrayal and frustration lies in the total failure of our first black president to be the reconciler he could have been," writes the MDJ columnist.
Reconciliation is it?
Perhaps he didn't hear Fox New's Geraldo Rivera say this: The George Zimmerman jurors "would have shot and killed Trayvon Martin a lot sooner than George Zimmerman did…You dress like a thug, people are going to treat you like a thug."
Is that how we whites of good will help sooth the raw emotions most all of our black friends and neighbors feel as they watched Zimmerman go scot free especially after one of his six jurors now says he "got away with murder."
The reason Rivera, Limbaugh and dozens of other far right media types can get away with this is because they know too many of their white, aging, male, conservative audiences agree with them. But if Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host who drew national attention to the Martin case, expresses outrage over the verdict, he's hurting race relations.
"My purpose is to emphasize how they and President Obama are making things worse instead of better, and how they are saying 'No thanks!' to citizens, including white conservatives, who have worked diligently to promote racial harmony," the writer continues.
Diligently is it?
Somebody who calls himself "Cobb Co Guy" noted on my blog: "Novelist Stephen Hunter put it best: '[The] presumption is that the African-American community is immature, impulsive, prone to violence and incapable of understanding the nuances of the case.'"
That kind of harmony? Or this kind, from National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent: African-Americans can solve “the black problem” if they put their “heart and soul into being law-abiding...”
Reconciliation comes when you have mutual understanding and a productive dialog, acknowledging and accepting each sides' grievances, and working together toward resolution, which is exactly what President Obama is calling for.