It's often said that racism is alive and well, and that if you look hard enough, you will continue to find examples that seem like they were quotes from the 19th Century and not the 21st.
Yet, these comments and incidents are coming to the forefront more often via technology, despite the progress we have made in civil rights. Even with the threat of exposure and national coverage, that does not stop people and institutions from making comments and decisions that they would go on to regret. Here are just a few examples from last month:
Ah, Paula Deen’s alleged racist comments to a former employee. As usual, the media has presented us with all kinds of information and reputed and disputed facts to digest, but has anyone addressed the larger issue at hand?
Yes, we love a scandal, but the generational divides have not gone away. Just because we've elected a man of African American descent as president (twice) does not mean a KKK and NAACP member want to sit at the proverbial table, hold hands, and sing kumbaya. While I believe that Deen has the right to say what she wants to say, including her "apology," I do commend the Food Network and others that have pulled out of their relationships with her.
What some would argue is even worst, is internal racism — and a prime example of this in the recent news was the premiere, and subsequent reaction to the documentary Dark Girls, which aired on the OWN television channel. But, aside from the lack of a showing of the true spectrum that is the beauty of African American women — the social media warfare that ensued was truly demoralizing.
The #TeamLightSkinned and #TeamDarkSkinned debates that took place, particularly on Twitter, seemed to prove that people missed the point of the documentary entirely. As this article on Clutch magazine touches on this, stating that “whether in-person or on-line, conversations about skin color often transform into scenes that look like they were taken straight out of School Daze.” (If you haven’t seen School Daze by the way, I highly suggest you check it out) It almost confirms that the brilliantly destructive power that the effects on the Transatlantic Slave Trade has, as we continue to draw lines.
To round this all up, the subject of natural textured hair has come into play as well, with the news breaking of a school in Ohio banning Afro-puffs and other styles. Despite social experiments such as the “You Can Touch My Hair,” which quickly was met by the “You Can’t Touch My Hair” outcry in New York City, would have potentially been a sign that mainstream culture was becoming more receptive to different perceptions and implementations of beauty. Yet, as seen in these documents, the school was prepared to make these restrictions a reality. Thankfully, due to the outrage of the community and the news of this ban going viral, the school lifted their ban. At face value, this is a great step in the right direction, but the fact that the ban occurred in the first place further proves that covert racism is alive and well, and needs to continually be called out for what it is and the affects that it has on us all. (The "we're not impressed" face of this girl sums it all up doesn't it?)
Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of comments and incidents such as these three, as through personal experience, many will tell you that covert racism still goes on. Yet, until we continue to have open and health dialogues about racism, and all of the other –isms that we still struggle to deal with as a society, we cannot hope for any long term fixes. Just like the childhood story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, we have been sold a set of ethics and political correctness that leaves all of our issues and stymied social progress for the world to see. Banning hairstyles, throwing around slurs and being preoccupied with the color of our skin (especially within ethnic groups), and then trying in vain to say that we as humans are “okay” is not okay. Nor will that word do anything more than put a band-aid on a deep wound. Here’s to hoping we all properly heal soon.