d. E. Rogers

Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Racism vs. African-Americans in America Today: AT-A-GLANCE

In Articles by d. E. Rogers on June 30, 2010 at 4:01 am

There is no question that America’s history has been plagued by racism. Slavery remains a dark stain on America’s history which many would rather forget. In fact, there are some who believe it is forgotten, and that racism is no longer a serious issue in today’s American culture.

It is certainly true that racism is not as serious a problem now as in the past. Up until the civil rights era there were many parts of the country in which the government openly supported racist laws. While government support of racist policy is (mostly) a thing of the past, there is still an undercurrent of racism in the culture of America today.

Racist Stereotypes Remain

Today there are few people in America who will openly confess to being racist, and those people and organizations which do, such as the remaining Ku Klux Klan, are usually viewed as social outcasts. However, there are still many stereotypes against African-Americans which influence American culture. Most of these stereotypes are about violence and sex. A study in Philadelphia, for example, found that African-Americans were overly represented as perpetrators of crimes in local news outlets when compared to the actual rates of crime in the city.

Sexual stereotypes are also common, and African-American men and women are often depicted as aggressively sexual. While this stereotype is sometimes twisted into a compliment, it results in severe consequences. African-American men are more likely to be assumed guilty of a sexual crime than men of any other race in America. African-American women are more likely to be involved in the sex industry, but are often paid far less than white women.

Racism in the Media

The study in Philadelphia isn’t the only example of racism in the media far from it, in fact. The Entman-Rojecki Index of Race in Media, one of the most comprehensive studies on the subject, has found significant differences between how African-American and white characters are portrayed in movies. Black women are around five times more likely to be depicted as violent in movies, for example.

Racism in news programs is even worse. The Entman-Rojecki Index has found that it is four times more likely that an African-American’s mug shot will be featured in a crime story than a white person’s mug shot. Stories about African-American suspects are also twice as likely to show the suspect restrained than stories about white suspects.

The Katrina disaster was one of the most obvious examples of this bias in the last decade. The majority of the negative press coverage concerning looting and criminal behavior in post-Katrina New Orleans was focused on African-Americans. Some sarcastic commentators parodied the media coverage by observing that “Black people ‘loot’ food, but white people ‘find’ food.”

Economic and Social Differences

One of the most blatant examples of how racism remains in America today is the prison system. Approximately 10% of the male population of African-Americans between 25-29 are incarcerated at any one time, five times the rate of the next highest group. Racism also faces African-Americans who are looking for a job. While the national unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent, the unemployment rate for African-Americans is over 17 percent.

This isn’t merely a problem which is hurting urban or poor African-Americans, either. Middle-class African-Americans in cities across the country also find themselves suffering the same plight. Columnist Bob Herbert recently wrote about the problems facing African-Americans in Memphis, where he found that the “median income of black homeowners in Memphis has dropped to a level below that of 1990.” African-American families across the nation are more likely to be left unemployed no matter their income. The only thing more shocking than this is the relative lack of coverage in the press – while papers will happily report the statistics, few media outlets are willing to investigate the possibility that this difference is caused by racism.

Police Treatment and Racial Profiling

Racial profiling is one of the remaining examples of how racism still exists in the government. Simply being an African-American greatly increases your chances of being pulled over by police. One study in Maryland found that 76 percent of motorists stopped on a stretch of highway were African-Americans, while African-Americans only held 20 percent of all drivers licenses in the state.

Of all the topics surrounding racism in America today, racial profiling is by far the most hotly debated. The racial profiling debate moves forward on a daily basis, and while the debate mostly focuses on law enforcement, racial profiling is also a problem among the general public. No recent case illustrates this better than the arrest of Neli, an African-American teenager with Asperger’s. Neli was sitting outside of a school library when someone called the police stating that there was a black male with a gun. As it turned out, there was no gun, or any object like a gun – but by then Neli had been confronted by police.  Many journalists and civil rights activists have rightly pounced on this case as an example of racial profiling, arguing that there was nothing different about Neli that would have made him stand out from anyone else in the area that morning – except for the fact that he is an African-American male.

Light Skin and Dark Skin Racism

One of the more subtle issues surrounding racism in America is the difference in racism against African-Americans based on the shade of their skin.

Multiple studies have found that racism against African-Americans is more severe for those who have darker shades of skin than those who have lighter shades of skin. One grim Stanford University study found that in death row cases an African-American defendant was twice as likely to receive the death penalty if he had very dark skin and traditionally African features when compared with African-Americans with lighter skin and more European features.

Similar findings have been discovered in regards to employment. A Bucknell University study found that African-Americans with light skin were more likely to obtain a job than African-Americans of dark skin, although both were less likely to receive a job than a white candidate.

In Conclusion

The unfortunate truth is that racism still exists in American culture.  Many Americans of all races would rather not admit that this is the case. As a country we like to believe that we are civilized, and that we no longer let petty concerns such as race influence our views.

The evidence, however, is irrefutable. African-Americans are more likely to be depicted as violent in the media, are more likely to be sent to prison, are more likely to be pulled over or investigated by police and more likely to be unemployed. While America has made progress from the days when African-Americans were enslaved or blatantly persecuted by the government, our country still has a long ways to go.

By

d. E. Rogers, author of Crossing Color Lines

Sources:
Entman-Rojecki Index of Race in Media – press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/210758.html
NPR: Sex Stereotypes of African-Americans – npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10057104
Infoplease: Prison Population Exceeds Two Million – infoplease.com/ipa/A0881455.html
Washington Post: Unemployment for Blacks to Reach 25-Year High – washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/14/AR2010011404085.html
The New York Times: As Racism Wanes, Colorism Persists – theboard.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/as-racism-wanes-colorism-persists/

Should America End Affirmative Action?

In Series 1 on June 18, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Have we reached a point where we no longer need affirmative action? Like President Obama, should we focus on need-based not race-based? (Barak Obama Has Gotten Past Affirmative Action. Have We?)

The justification for affirmative action is to compensate for past discrimination, persecution or exploitation or to address existing discrimination.  By removing affirmative action, this would mean there is no longer discrimination or persecution in America. It means that without government and educational programs for minorities, we can trust we will still have an equal opportunity. Yet, according to the Federal Reserve, for every dollar of wealth owned by a white family, a black or Latino family owns just 16 cents.

So have we gotten passed this? Should America end Affirmative Action and focus on people with needs, not people of a specific race?

Read the 10 myths of Affirmative Action

We appreciate your input!

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The Color Society Prefers

In Series 1 on June 10, 2010 at 9:00 am

As we watch media today many things can pass right by us not realizing the media puts certain images in our minds and how it impacts our lives. When you really start to look in detail you see how beautiful African American women have changed their appearance to fit the media’s standards. Many celebrities have bleached their skin to have lighter skin; their hair is long, light in color with beautiful perfect curls. However, the message media and role model celebrities are relaying is that if you are dark with natural hair, you have the wrong color and are not considered beautiful. Skin bleaching has become a cosmetic daily routine for many African American women.

In China, those that have lighter skin are considered of high class and skin bleaching is an epidemic. The same goes for Hispanic media – Hispanics are made up of many different colors, some who appear to be African Americans. Yet, on the soap operas, what do we see? We see more of the blonde, blue-eyed actors and actresses.

This video is called The Assassination of Black Women. Although some of the pictures may be questionable, I think the creator has a point and demonstrates clearly the message that is being spread across to many young “dark” African American girls.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EORg-_0jjR8&feature=related

In this video, you see the The View with Whoopi Goldberg discussing why women do not wear their natural hair. Whoopi mentions, “There is a deeper issue.” Unfortunately, as many of these necessary discussions end, it ends in joking as if it is no big deal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQFvtd61ew8&feature=related

This goes back to our previous discussion of assimilation. We are losing a part of ourselves as we assimilate into the preferred, more “attractive” culture instead of sticking to our own culture and really representing who we are and who were made to be.

In Crossing Color Lines, Chase Cain learns the hard way that becoming more “white” is not necessarily the easier route, and that it comes with its own set of problems. Others can learn a lesson from his story. It takes strength and courage to be who you are, avoid the pressure to assimilate, and strive to succeed on your own terms. It is a challenge, but one that is that much sweeter once achieved.

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Is It Really Greener on the Other Side?

In Series 1 on June 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Is the grass always greener on the other side? If you could wake up tomorrow and change your race, would you? These are the issues explored in “Crossing Color Lines.” The questions posed are ones that will make you seriously question the way you are living your life and the goals you have set for yourself. It may even help you come to terms with differentiating between what is an excuse and what is an actual challenge to be taken on and defeated.

Society has created many hurdles to success, especially for black Americans. What “Crossing Color Lines” demonstrates is that we have a choice, every day, and those choices greatly impact our lives. We can choose to be who we are and blaze our own trail or we can choose to assimilate and pretend to be someone we are not. When given the choice and ability to switch races, many people may say, at the outset, that they would choose the race that they know offers the most benefits, in the belief that it is an easier path to a life of success.

In April 2010, a subscriber posted in Yahoo Answers, “If You Could Change Your Race for One Day, What Would It Be and Why?” Answers ranged from, “I am content with who I am,” to “Latin,” or “Asian.”  But two posts stood out the most:

“I would like to be white to see if they’ll give me more respect that way,”

“White so that I won’t be attacked in the south.”

This post was only two months ago.

But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, as the main character, Chase Cain, comes to find out. When you give up so much, how much have you really gained? And if you have to give up who you really are, aren’t you paying the ultimate price? We also have to remember that each and every one of us was created as we are for a purpose. At this time, as our race, with our specific family members, our friends; all for a purpose.

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Conforming to Succeed

In Series 1 on June 2, 2010 at 10:40 am

As we look at how racism has changed, can we really say there is no racism today? Is it an issue that is overrated and is no longer a problem? Have we really become a country with equal opportunity exists for everyone? Or have many African Americans just conformed to a culture that is not their own in order to succeed?

Many have been left to wonder, regarding race in America, just how much people will have to assimilate into the white culture in order to have a chance at succeeding. As we assimilate to this culture, however we lose ourselves – an important part of what makes us who we are. In one area of life we hide who we are to stay under the radar of certain stereotypes and in other areas we are free and are true to ourselves. But if racism was not still an issue today, we would not feel the need to have multiple masks. We would be our true selves in any environment.

Then there are those that choose the more challenging route, believing that there are opportunities to succeed by remaining true to their roots and not falling into the pressures to conform. However, this choice does not come without scrutiny.

A good example of this is the election of President Obama. His victory didn’t come without scrutiny. President Obama was put through the ringer, so to speak, during that election, with people questioning and commenting on everything from his name to his religion, and from his citizenship to his ability to speak so well. Issues were explored and discussed during his campaign – and even after he took office – that no other President ever had to experience.

In a recent Time Magazine article, Why the Obama Plan Is Working, Mike Dorning provides statistics from a Bloomberg national poll in March that Americans by an almost a 2-to-1 margin, believe the economy has gotten worse rather than better during the last year. Yet, Dorning states “the market begs to differ…while jobs have been slow to return, the country has experienced and incredible productivity boom.”

Chief economic strategist, Dan Greenhaus stated, “If Obama was a republican, we would hear a never-ending drumbeat of news stories about markets voting in favor of the President.”

President Obama is an excellent example to all of us and has held steadfastly to his true self during the election and presently as the scrutiny continues.

In your life, do you feel you have to conform to the established white culture in order to succeed or do you believe you have the same opportunity to succeed while staying true to yourself? Crossing Color Lines shows us that we have a choice every day and the choices we make impact our lives in tremendous ways.

Top Issues Brought to The Forefront

In Series 1 on June 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Join us as we bring Crossing Color Lines and the characters to life as we explore the top issues brought to the forefront in the next few weeks.

Crossing Color Lines which focuses on racial relations, comes at a good time, as people around the country have a renewed sense of hope regarding this issue since President Obama’s election.

Join the discussion as we post throughout each week until the official launch on June 22nd. We invite your comments, thoughts and feelings on every issue.

Let the journey begin!