On Facebook, and elsewhere, I’ve had several recent discussions about the continued existence of racism in America. There are those who insist on claiming that race is no longer an issue in America, with the election of our first black president we have somehow moved beyond it. This is especially true in some GOP circles as they attempt their party as being one of inclusion and not exclusion.
Prior to the New Deal the GOP frequently did champion the causes of race and women’s suffrage. Things began to change during the Great Depression as blacks increasingly turned to the Democrat Party to address their issues. It was New Deal policy that provided aid to impoverished whites and blacks. It was a Democrat president, Harry Truman, who finally integrated the armed forces, it was the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who took on the issues of civil rights and economic opportunity.
Conversely, it was the GOP who, in the 1960s, adopted a “Southern strategy” of winning elections in Southern states based on the exploitation of racial bigotry and the federal government’s intervention into the prevailing system of Jim Crow segregation laws.
While continuing to be the party opposed to government’s power to be the arbiter of social equality and economic opportunity, it still strives to falsely portray itself as being the party of liberty and freedom. Today’s “Don’t Tread on Me” Tea Party Republican is only a current means of saying, “Back in your place, boy.”
Of course, the majority of Republicans don’t feel this way. But the majority of Republicans are not the voice of the Republican Party today. They have become the “silent majority.”
On many recent occasions I’ve been told the conservative and black presidential candidate, Herman Cain, is proof positive the GOP is a party of inclusion. Well, given that Cain has a long-time and close relationship with the infamous Koch brothers, known major supporters of the Tea Party and other ultra right-wing groups, how can it be argued that Cain isn’t much more than a token?
Herman Cain, through his own defenses, has given substance to the argument that racism is not a thing of our past. As his critics have pointed out the weaknesses of his positions and statements and as accusers have come forth with claims of sexual aggression, he has quickly and loudly played down the ‘race card’ in his defense. He has as much said that if he were white none of these claims would have been received as much attention.
For Herman Cain, such may be the case. Being black in America comes with a lots of baggage. We all know we have a horrible racial history in this nation and while we have made great strides America isn’t Disneyland yet. And, that’s the point, we have not reached any kind of post-racial reality. Racism is still present and you don’t have to lift many flat rocks or scratch the bark too deeply to find it. Matter of fact, one particular Texas rock all one has to do is scratch off a recent layer of paint and you would find the word Niggerland.
NOTE: Touré, a young African-American writer has recently published a book titled Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?” I’ve seen him interviewed several times on TV and an essay by him about post-racial America was recently published in the New York Times editorial section. Below is a link to his essay and if this subject interest you I’d highly recommend reading it.