Strip off the economic sheen and you will find the most advanced nation upon the planet earth still paralyzed by racial divisions that even the Presidency of a Black American could not erode. The momentous legislative changes of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965, and 1968 are failing to address the major aspects of daily life of black citizens.
The segregated facilities are still the reality of life though the underprivileged are not bluntly told so. The installation of the equality principle in the social order is still a dream. The question is what it would take to call US society an egalitarian society? If a country that talks about democracy and social justice for rest of the civilization, but itself fails the litmus test of Discrimination against its own citizens, on its own shore, than where is beacon of Liberty?
People live the real life faced with personal problems, experiences and not in the ivory towers of policies and statistics.
Taller claims and fine oratory of President Obama is proving to be ineffective to check the job losses, horrific crimes and riots sparked by the high handedness of White American Authorities against the blacks. In 1984, when Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale in the presidential election, many white Democratic voters felt that defeat is consequence of Democratic Party’s leaning toward black American which the Whites disapproved.
The ‘Edsall’ polling studies of “Reagan Democrats” in Macomb County described the voter’s anger in these words:“These white Democratic defectors express a profound distaste for blacks, a sentiment that pervades almost everything they think about government and politics… .
Blacks constitute the explanation for their [white defectors’] vulnerability and for almost everything that has gone wrong in their lives; not being black is what constitutes being middle class; not living with blacks is what makes a neighborhood a decent place to live. These sentiments have important implications for Democrats, as virtually all progressive symbols and themes have been redefined in racial and pejorative terms.”
We can read the similar undercurrents in Indian politics today and we can tour our own ghettos of Ahemdabad; we can capture the lines delineating the two major communities in contrast.
The election of Bill Clinton brought a significant change in the language and themes of American daily life. However, the race relations in US were never free from the legacy of conflicts.
Here I’m reproducing an experiencing of black American Columnist Dough Cunningham:
When I was a first grader riding in the backseat of my mother’s car, we were pulled over in a routine traffic stop. The white police officer approached our vehicle, and before saying anything else to my black mother, he asked, “Do you know what I would do to you if you ever even looked at my wife or kids the wrong way?” My mother shrugged, and suggested that he would lock her in prison. He responded, “I’d kill you.”
I was so young that I had no idea how to make sense of what the officer said to my mother that day, especially considering that earlier in the week the police department visited my school to talk about their role in keeping us safe and protecting us from the bad guys. She was pulled over because her vehicle registration was out of date. My fear during that conversation burned the exchange into my memory, and I still recall it vividly.
My confusion from that day has been undone by a deeper understanding of the powerful impact of racism in America.I grew up in a lower middle class town in South Florida that had pockets of segregation, and where racism was common and happened to be the driving force behind the officer’s hateful speech to my mother.
My neighborhood was almost all black, and nearly all of my classmates in elementary school were black. I did well in high school, graduated from the University of Michigan with honors, and obtained a JD from Yale Law School. My peers became whiter at each level of education, but I stayed black.
Then it was thought the dawn of a new era when President Barack Obama won the election for Democratic Party and harmonious US society.
But today, as the violence continues in Ferguson, Missouri that began on August 9 with the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager shot down by a white cop’s bullets the peaceful demonstrations are turning into looting and mayhem.
Rubber bullets and tear gas are being freely used to control the agitated mobs. Missouri’s governor had to pull out the local police and sent in state officers instead. But the rioting didn’t cease completely. The black anger that was simmering for year came to full boil this week. It is driven by a deep, deep anger might take a long time to calm down.
While Ferguson, Missouri was in flames, the police descended on the St Louis suburb like an occupying army. Two journalists were arrested. Shops have been looted, scores arrested, the stand-off continues.
And this time President Barack Obama is getting the flak, being blamed to have done next to nothing. He was enjoying Golf ! Please don’t blame Narsimha Rao he was watching the TV program when Babri Masjid was razed. History has witnessed many Neros when Rome was burning !
By: Naim Naqvi
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