America’s racial crisis will never go away
By Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent
Police and protesters square off outside the Ferguson Police Department, March 11, in Ferguson, Mo. Earlier in the day, the resignation of Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson was announced in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report prompted by the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black 18-year-old by a white police officer. (AP/Wide World photo)
(FinalCall.com) – In remarks commemorating the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., President Barack Obama declared racism and intolerance unmasked in Ferguson, Mo., no longer exists on the same wide scale and in the same way—though America’s race problem remains.
Revelations of racist chants by members of a college fraternity and police shootings of un-armed Black men clearly show hatred for Blacks remains deeply woven into the fabric of America, activists and scholars said.
Fallout continues over the University of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Fraternity since a video of members singing a racist song about lynching Blacks went viral.
“There will never be a n*gg*r in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me,” young white male voices rang out on a bus trip. They have since apologized.
“We can’t shake the problem of race in this country, because race is intrinsic to what America is. America will be racist for probably the rest of the time the United States is the United States,” said Dr. David Horne, professor of Critical Thinking and African History, and former chair of the Pan African Studies Department at Cal State University-Northridge.
Hatred as American as apple pie
The University of Oklahoma disbanded the fraternity, expelled two members, and the national chapter revoked its charter. Although condemnation was swift and the school and fraternity leaders said racism would not be tolerated, news surfaced that 19-year-old Charles Desdunes’ mother filed a $25 million lawsuit against the fraternity at Cornell University, after it allegedly hazed the aspiring doctor to death in 2011.
According to reports, the son of Haitian immigrants died after his hands and feet were tied with duct tape and zip ties. He was blindfolded and given so much alcohol that he died within a few hours of the hazing, according to media reports.
“Race and racism are intrinsic to America. They are as American as apple pie,” Dr. Horne told The Final Call. “Any way she’s sliced, whether it’s a theoretical look at internal colonialism or structured functionalism, doesn’t matter,” Dr. Horne said.
A culture of racism
Black students charged the SAE incident reflects other racial incidents at the University of Oklahoma. They said com-plaints to school officials about a culture of racism on campus have gone unanswered. Dr. Horne argued actions were taken against the fraternity only because frat boys got caught, not because of benevolence toward Black students.
The racist chant video surfaced the day after national civil rights leaders, President Obama, and a diverse coalition of politicians, preachers, and activists commemorated the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, March 6-8.
It also came on the heels of the Justice Department’s scathing indictment of the Ferguson Police Department, which it investigated following Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of un-armed Black teen Michael Brown, Jr.
It also followed the March 9 fatal police shooting of naked and unarmed Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old Black man in Georgia, and the fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson. He was killed inside his home in Madison, Wisc., March 6 after an officer forced his way inside, after hearing a disturbance, according to police.
People are growing tired, noted Dr. Horne.
Part of the whole consequence of race and racism is disrespect, he said. “When you disrespect people for a long enough period of time, they do respond. They do react. People don’t like being disrespected, and that’s what we’re seeing now,” he continued.
The March 11 shooting of two police officers during a pro-test at the Ferguson police station raised serious concerns.
Twenty-year-old Jeffrey Williams of St. Louis has been arrested for the shootings. He’s been charged with two counts of first-degree assault, a count of firing a weapon from a vehicle and three counts of armed criminal activity. Bullets that struck police were aimed at someone else, he said.
“People are tired of being pushed around. They’re tired of being taken for granted,” Dr. Horne said.
He recommended Ferguson residents organize themselves politically and take command of the system.
“Change only comes when people decide that they’ve had enough and they are willing to organize themselves away from what the situation has been,” Dr. Horne continued.
Readin’, writin’ and racism
In certain matters, things are getting worse, according to Professor Patrick Delices, former research fellow and assistant for Pulitzer Prize winning historian Dr. Manning Marable at Columbia University. He now works for a college in New York.
“The United States of America is what it is: a nation founded on the basis of White supremacy. It is a system that prides itself on White privilege, White superiority and Black inferiority, so it is up to us to tap into our resources to create a nation of our own,” Prof. Delices told The Final Call.