This article is Part 1 in a four-part series from Gerald Torrence on The Truth About Racism.
Why the righteous indignation over the racist diatribe of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling? Is it not obvious to all that the deep stain of racism and prejudice runs deep in the culture and fabric of this Nation? How long will we continue to gloss over the fact that 500 years of systemized and institutional oppression based on skin color has, and still does define this country?
The laws may have changed but the attitudes that berthed and fostered white supremacy have not. Thank God that the comments of Donald Sterling have once again exposed the soft underbelly of American racist attitudes toward blacks. The veil has been lifted again on the façade of racial equality. The hideous and ugly reality of intrinsic and ingrained hatred against African Americans is once again brought front and center where it should be. It’s past time that we dealt with the elephant in the room…this stinking albatross which hangs around the neck of America, masked by the perfume of political correctness and hypocrisy.
If things are ever to change, there must be first honesty in the discourse. This Nation has always been morally bankrupt, and destitute in fairness and compassion for those who are still the wretched and despised great-grandsons and daughters of former slaves. Make no mistake about it, racism in this country is alive and well despite the election of President Barack Obama. In some ways his election has exacerbated the flames of latent, but still virulent anti-black sentiment. To be honest, racism has never left, what’s done and said in the dark, eventually comes to light. Donald Sterling is no different from millions of other white men and women in this country. His views are the same, as are his sentiments. The only difference is that his private views have been made public. The invisible multitudes of Donald Sterling’s whose mouths drip with the venom of racial prejudice in private, but wear the mask of public political correctness are legion. The elephant in the room has been exposed again. Good!
Now let’s have some honest dialogue about the ugly reality of pervasive racism in this country. Painful or not, we must stop acting like it doesn’t exist and deal with it. What concerns me the most, is that we have a Nation so racked by the guilt and shame of its racist past, that it is afraid and embarrassed to acknowledge its racist present. Donald Sterling is not alone. He only stands alone because the millions of other Donald Sterling’s are too cowardly to publicly admit the feelings and sentiments that they share privately. Until there is some honest recognition of the prevalence of racism in this country, we are powerless to address and change it.
Even the President chooses to tip around the issue of racism for mainly political reasons. Being the product of a white mother and an African father, I’m sure he feels torn by divided loyalties based on his mixed genealogical heritage. He’s both black and white. This is true even though he faces the reality of racism every day he serves as President. Many white people want and plot his failure simply because he is black. Ask Rush Limbaugh. Many others hope he fails for the same reason.
White or black, it’s impossible to grow up in this country and not be tainted and shaped by the culture of racism and white superiority that has been the social and political reality for over 500 years. Consequently, it is sickening to hear the talking heads of white America express their righteous indignation at Donald Sterling when they, the silent majority, are indeed racist themselves. It is impossible to escape. Racism is too ingrained into the DNA of the United States. This country was built, grew and prospered on the principle of white superiority and black inferiority.
Just like every promise and treaty that was broken with the Indians by the architects of the Constitution and their progeny, every promise of equality and recompense to the black man, has been retracted and retreated from by the ruling white power structure. Just ask the Supreme Court. (Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, 12-682)
It’s time for the truth to be told. How much longer will we allow the elephant in the room to be ignored? Just like the “emperor with no clothes,” we are too afraid to acknowledge, and voice the obvious. Until we embrace the ugly entrenched stain of this country’s racist past and present as a reality, we cannot begin to change it.
Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.