In our modern society, we've gotten into the deeply set habit of being accustomed to a definition of racism. For example, an online dictionary has one definition that states racism is "hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.” Elizabeth Martinez mentions how "the U.S. harbors an exclusively white-on-Black concept of racism.” The question we must now ask ourselves is, is this view really relevant?
Recently brought to public attention on the The O'Reilly Factor was the story of Elizabeth Kandrac's lawsuit of Brentwood Middle School, a small Charleston County, South Carolina school with a population of about 472 students. Ms. Kandrac, who is herself Caucasian, had sued the school because of racial incidents that occurred when she started teaching there.
She was racially slurred, attacked, and cursed at by African-American students. When she had brought these complaints to the principal, also an African American, the response was appalling. "I was subjected to all kinds of cursing – things were thrown at me, including desks and books. I reported it, but my principal said this is their culture, this is how they are, and if you don't like cursing this isn't the school for you," Ms. Kandrac reported.
In my mind, that is the most absurd statement that anyone could make, and in this case, absolute ignorance of the general American view of racism.
This statement opens a wide area of discussion, but I only want to address the situation's faulty points. The classic idea of American racism goes back to African-American enslavement and racial differences. In this day and age, we should have completely set aside these "differences" and integrated into an equal society. But, as long as mankind exists, this can never be. The problem is that this is a total turning of the wheel: This is white harassment by African Americans.
In making that ludicrous remark, the principal was dismissing the racism shown by African-American students towards their Caucasian teacher as "part of their culture." That is not a part of anyone's culture. The problem in this modern era is that we have lost all sense of civility in the United States.
The African-American culture, whether it is in the Deep South, middle United States, or Canada, is not culturally formulated around racism towards Caucasians. If you think about it, no race is ever culturally formed to be racist against anyone. People will argue that there have been cultures that were racist towards others. The problem that lies there is that that is not culture. That is the mindset engraved into the people. There is a difference.
When I say this, I'm not attempting to defend Caucasian racism against others, either. I am simply attempting to show how we have drastically forgotten that racism is not simply one way around.
Every day, racism is encountered by both African Americans and Caucasians alike, addressing those specifics. But when Caucasians are being harassed by African Americans, as in the case of Ms. Kandrac, the leaders of Brentwood felt it was not an issue to be dealt with. The situation is not seen as racist; it is excused as "culture."
In looking for reading material dealing with racism, the only thing I came across were those dealing with a racist Caucasian America. When does anyone turn the page to see that's not all the tension that exists?
Civility is the message we need to be teaching our country again. Racial equality does not mean exalting one race over another to tip the scales. It means complete integration into a mindset of "all are equal, none are better." If we can learn that and apply it, there will no longer be a need for such action and the building of racial walls. So the question I want to leave you with is this: do we really know racism when we see it?