There has always been pockets of right wing extremists who have demonstrated nothing but disdain for civil rights legislation that attempted to correct the injustices suffered by black Americans during the height of Jim Crow and racism in America: Affirmative Action; set aside federal contracts; and minority preference for admission into schools of higher learning created a cottage industry of efforts aimed at reversing these hard fought benefits. And since the hard fought legislative and legal victories of the 1950s and 1960s, the landmark rulings and legislation that gave the promise of racial equality in America has been so diminished that they no longer resemble the effort by this country to prove that all men are created equal. The country is embroiled in the midst of two highly charged debates dealing with race: The Arizona law and the extent to which state officials can require citizens to produce documentation proving their citizenship and the Mosque controversy over a Muslim group that wants to build an Islamic center near the former location of the World Trade Towers.
It makes me wonder if a new, but more subtle form of racism has taken the place of Jim Crow in America. Will the citizenship and Mosque controversies become the barometer which measures America’s racial tolerance?
Conservative talk show hosts have been experimenting for years with the boundaries of acceptable dialogue when it comes to race; however the tone has become more rancorous as of late. From Imus’ “nappy headed hoes,” referring to the Rutgers University women’s basket team, to the recent ease and comfort exhibited by Laura Schlessinger when she rattled off the n-word nearly a dozen times. Is it coincidental that popular so called “shock jocks” are pushing the boundaries of tolerable, social conversation, or are we witnessing the prophetic urgings of the late Harvard Professor, Samuel P. Huntington? In Huntington’s book, Who are We, he predicted a white backlash resulting from their perceived threat by the rise of other ethnic groups: “…the various forces challenging the core American culture and Creed could generate a move by native [white] Americans to revive the discarded and discredited racial and ethnic concepts of American identity and to create an America that would exclude, expel, or suppress people of other racial, ethnic and cultural groups…It could produce a racially intolerant country with high levels of intergroup conflict (Who are We, p. 20).”
Laura Schlessinger’s recent, flagrant use of the n-word on her radio show is an unfortunate demonstration of how far some are willing to go to flirt with what is socially unacceptable. Her use of the n-word may have appeared to be an honest effort to demonstrate the lines of demarcation between its use by black entertainers and white people. However, what she (may have) failed to consider is that the average African American listening to her broadcast would find her mantra of the n-word offensive and obscene. Schlessinger lamented that black comics can use the n-word, but white people can’t, and she used that dichotomy as a spring board to leap into forbidden territory. Chris Rock is paid a lot of money to entertain people, and the n-word is a patented part of his routine; however, one wouldn’t expect him to use it during a local PTA meeting.
Ironically, notwithstanding the years of “reasonable person standard” that Schlessinger has offered to her faithful followers, it was her own breach of this standard of care that has been her undoing, as she has announced that she is resigning from her program at the end of the year so she can regain her first amendment rights. Regain her first amendment rights? How absurd! Is she really saying, “I think I should be able to be insensitive to people of other races, creeds, colors, religions, etc. without a public outcry?” I wonder how she would have responded if I call her syndicated radio program and used the k-word referring to Jews or the c-word referring to whites. I’m not sure, but the notion of a white celebrity claiming that her first amendment rights have been abridged because there was a revolt over her unabashed use of the n-word seems to suggest that perhaps black people need to start looking over their shoulders...again. However, I honestly hope that that is not the case.
NOTE: I personally do not use racial slurs, including the n-word. I disdain them, and I have called for the same leaders who demanded a boycott of Imus and Laura Schlessinger to use their same influence against the rap industry for its vile use of the n-word.
Pictures from NCOG 30th Church Anniversary
5 years ago