The Ugly Face of Race in America

CoverCover Story & Inside Photo: Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues

HOUSTON- Even 149 years after the treaty signing at the Appomattox Courthouse between Robert E Lee and Gen. Ulysses Grant ending the U.S. Civil War, America still has issues with race.

African-Americans have been in a constant battle for acceptance and equality and fair treatment.

The promises of freedom continue to elude a people freed from slavery after 400 years of brutality, family fragmentation and mental, physical and emotional abuses.

“The real truth is the history of America is not the history of the Negro,” said Dr. James M. Douglas, Executive Vice President, Texas Southern University. “I am a Negro and no one knows the history of a Black man better than I.”

Douglas has dedicated his life to the continuing legal education of students from all backgrounds.

He was born in 1944 in Omalaska, Texas. He grew up in North Houston and attended Houston Public Schools graduating from Kashmere Gardens High School in 1962. He then went on the graduate from Texas Southern University in 1966 and earned his J.D. In May 1970 from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at TSU. In 1981, he became the seventh dean in the history of the law school and in 1995, became Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs and later was appointed Interim President of TSU. In 2008, he was appointed as executive vice president.

Douglas made some key points while doing a discourse on race spelling out history and sharing a basic understanding of living and being Black in America in 2014.

One of the first great misunderstandings is believing that Blacks must accept the history thrust upon them by a system brainwashing that teaches a one-sided version of what really happen.

“Blacks have been subjected to many stereotypes and undeserved labels,” he said. “Those have been handed down to the present generation and it continues to be a problem.”

Some the weighted labels include the historical fact that Negroes were called inferior, of small-brained intelligence, treated as three-fifths of a White man, were cast as property and labeled as lazy and not willing to work to name a few.

He said that the Civil Rights Movement help quell the stir over racial strife and drove racism into the shadows and underground for a season, but the battle over race was far from over.

The racial gargoyle reappeared in 2008 after Barack Obama became the first African-American President of the United States.

“Using a pill analogy, America was taking her pills, but the symptoms and illness was still there,” Douglas said. “In 2008, America stop taking her pills and we have seen this illness return.”

Much of what has brought the ugly Ogre from the swamp has been statement by Whites who wrap themselves in the American Flag and fan the flames of racism visibly.  Rush Limbaugh is one who made it clear he’d rather see the country fail than President Barack Obama succeed. He has also made rants blasting affirmative action stating his angst about women and minorities being given a preference because of their skin color and because of the history of discrimination in the past – which he said totally disregards the law.

Even in American business and politics, the issue of race continues to demonstrates and undermines the notion that equality will ever happen in America as long as prejudice flourishes and holds back progress of Black America.

Nevada Cattleman Cliven Bundy spoke words that are shared by many in White America about the feelings about the Negro in America.

Out of the abundance of  his heart, Bundy spoke statements that reflect the feelings of many calling themselves Conservative Republicans today.

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy said, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids – and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch – they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. “And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” Bundy continued. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

U.S. Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, further extends ignorance on race with his rants about inner city Black men not wanting to work. Ryan put out that the “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work.”

Then L.A. Clippers Owner Don Sterling gave America more insight into the racist American mentality Sterling meant when he said on the tape, “It’s the world! … We don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture … I don’t want to change the culture because I can’t. It’s too big …” 

Sterling, who did not want Blacks coming to his NBA games, didn’t see his attitude as racist, just a true reaction to the racist world that Blacks have had to contend with for centuries. He has been banned from the NBA, but is taking legal action on the move.

From the words of Cooking Queen Paula Deen, to Radio icon Don Imus to Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, the list goes on and on as some in White America pass racism from one generation to the next.

Other challenges for today’s Negro citizen include the reversing of key decisions on affirmative action, voting rights, civil rights and the constant challenges of criminal justice system that erodes the rights of all Black citizens and increases the prison rolls.

All have come in only 50 years after Black America thought it had turned a corner and dealt with its race demons. The joke is on us.

Douglas said it is fighting an uphill battle for acceptance because many in White America do not want real equality and are happy perpetuating, promoting and advancing the current stereotypes.

According to Douglas,  African-Americans have to look at history through new lens and see a history that builds a sense of new pride that none can separate or take away.

Some of those adjustments include sending a strong letter to the “American White Man” that Blacks will no longer accept the lies and abuses.

The message must be clear that our historical viewpoints must change to reflect that we too are in a fight for independence. From education in HISD and other school districts to fighting for justice and equality in Harris County, across Texas and in other states, it is a battle we must engage and with the right attitude.

Looking at history from a the Negro perspective including seeing “Medgar Evers at our Patrick Henry; the Watts Riots as our Boston Tea Party; Voter Registration Drives as our American Revolution; and seeing modern American as our King George-Great Britain.

He said once that perspective changes then Black America can start focusing on the proverbial “nail” it currently sits on.

“Black America is like a dog sitting on a nail squirming and moaning, but not hurting bad enough to get off the nail,” Douglas said. “During the Civil Rights Movement, we hurt and we got off that nail and we marched and boycotted until things changed.”

He also said knowing the landscape and playing field, Blacks must mobilize and come back to the hoods to teach the young people how to get ready for the challenges they face.

He called for building a city wide coalition to attack problems affecting the Black community.

In conjunction with that, he challenged affluent Blacks who have moved out the “Lands”, ie Pearland, Sugarland and Woodlands to come back and get involved.

“We must take charge of our education and educate our kids,” he said. “History is not being taught and many of our youth do not know who they are or where they are going and cannot make decisions about to be somebody because we have failed to show them how.” 

He also called on Pastors and Ministers to return to neighborhood churches and live and work in the community to help reshape and develop areas.

Race is will continue to be an issue as long as the American Negro depends on White history, courts and time to solve the issue. We must do for ourselves

“This is not a sprint,” he said. “Black people must start long distance running and stay in the race.”

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