Dear Mr. Wilcox:
In a column titled “Stop playing the race card”, the editor asked “Why is race still an issue in 21st century America?” I would suggest that despite the election of Barack Obama, we do not live in a post-racial society. I would also ask why is it that when a person of color mentions race, it is “playing the race card”, but when white folks do it, it’s not?
For example, last week Marc Anthony sang “God Bless America” at an All-Star game. The reaction with swift and vile. Major League Baseball was denounced for having a “Mexican” singing the song. (Anthony is actually Puerto Rican.)
Interestingly most of the folks who objected did not realize that Anthony is a native New Yorker, which may be the reason he was asked to sing in New York. And this was the second time in the past month that having an American of Hispanic descent singing at a sporting event has elicited this reaction. So who was playing the race card?
Then there was this. A couple of years ago I was reading an on-line story about Malia Obama’s birthday, which falls on July 4th. I read the comments and was stunned. Now I believe that at my age I have become somewhat jaded, but the absolute hatred and vitriol spewed toward this young girl was unbelievable. About 50% of the comments were negative. Typical (but not the worst by any means):
“No matter how rich a filthy low life ni**er is, it’s still a filthy low life ni**er.”
”I bet that ugly black ghetto bunny smells like ****.”
As I’m reading this I look across the room and see my my great grand-daughter, who was visiting for the week. She is so sweet and so lovely and … she is one of “those people”. She has an African-American father and a Puerto Rican mother and, just like the President’s daughters, she will be a target. She will undoubtedly feel the sting of bigotry eventually, but I will fight to lessen the racism that she will face.
So it is quite personal. My wife is Latina … 100%. My son is also Hispanic – obviously. I look at my beautiful great granddaughter. I look at my extended family with it’s wonderful diversity.
It would be admirable if we truly did live in a post-racial society, but we do not. Until that time comes I will continue to work for justice, for all people. In the end it isn’t simply about the President or Travon Martin. It’s about what type of country I want our children and grandchildren to inherit.