The obstinacy of American racism

By Kristin Dellavecchio

To know racism is well alive  and to witness it with my own two eyes is very disturbing. It has been, and continues to be, a global issue.

“Why is our political system unable to ensure health care, a job, and decent living standards in the richest country in the world? Who is responsible? I found it doubly depressing to hear the answers given to such questions by my dearest relatives in the Detroit area: Black people don’t want to work; Obama is a liar and a socialist who has torn down the country…”

These words were published by The News Tribunein an editorial written by University of Washington professor, Michael Honey. Disgusted by these words, I pondered and an array of questions and thoughts began to arise: My first being that this is a racist statement.  Secondly, his relatives are not black, but shared their personal judgment that black people don’t want to work.  Also, can we blame our current president for our country being in the financial lull we are experiencing today?

Clearly, this statement of ignorance proves that not everyone can see beyond ethnic origins.

Professor Honey said his family stated that Obama has torn down the country, but perhaps they should look in retrospect at our previous presidents.  For instance, George Bush forced us into the financial lull that we are currently experiencing.  Recovery is not something instantaneous; rather, something that develops over time.

The racist statement that was published disturbed me the most.  I spoke with Professor Honey about it and here is what he had to say:

“Older generations often think that younger people don’t want to work, and that is often the context for such remarks. I don’t stop loving relatives even when they say (or think) such things because, as my article points out, Fox News and people like Rush Limbaugh constantly indoctrinate the idea that the primary victims of our system of profiteering capitalism and structural racism are themselves the ones to blame.  My article about my recent trip to Detroit that you refer to does not approve of comments such as ‘black people don’t want to work.’It reports on the appalling reality that even as so many remain locked out of good jobs and education it is ironic, to say the least, that some people, even my distant relatives, continue to say that other people ‘don’t want to work’ – when in fact nearly all the decent jobs are gone.

The UWT professor continued to explain that his direct family members (Mom and Dad) taught him anti-racism and equal rights. To this day their statement troubles me.   Blaming our president or an ethnic origin does not solve or answer the issue at hand.

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