Racial intolerance continues to raise its ugly head


I was disturbed to read these three stories this summer that show we still have a long way to go on improving race relations in our community and country.

Boardman Township police in July were called to investigate a reported case of intimidation against a Lealand Avenue resident.

The victim, 27, a black female, reported to police that she received a racially charged, threatening letter.

The letter, addressed to “resident” and without a return address, demands the woman get out of “our white neighborhood.”

The letter repeatedly uses derogatory racial slurs and is signed “the all-white neighborhood.”

Police are investigating the incident as a case of ethnic intimidation.

Last month, we read Youngstown police were investigating a truck that was found set on fire at a business where a threatening letter had been left about two weeks before.

The pickup truck was found ablaze and gutted about 6:35 a.m. Aug. 11 in the 2700 block of Mount Vernon Avenue on the city’s South Side.

On July 24, police were called about 9:50 p.m. to the same address, where a 40-year-old woman told them someone left a note on the door that said she was not wanted.

It made reference to the fact she is black and threatened to burn down her business.

The truck owner told police he had been staying at the business overnight because of the threats, and he woke up when the truck was set on fire. Reports said there was no damage to the South Side building. Also, no one has been arrested.

Nationally, Target recently had to pay $2.8 million to thousands of applicants who were disproportionately screened out of upper-level positions based on their race or gender.

Why is this still happening in the 21st century?

As a baby boomer and a product of the civil-rights era, I once had hopes that all people would one day be judged, as Dr. Martin Luther King envisioned, by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

I once had hopes that my children would live in a United States where they would have equal opportunity for jobs and promotions based on their education, experience and talent.

I now realize that will not happen because, as a nation, we collectively don’t want that to happen.

That might sound negative, but here’s why I have reached my conclusion: There will always be a segment of our society that considers itself superior and considers other members of our society inferior.

Donald Trump, a Republican candidate for president, basically said that, with a few exceptions, Mexican people now living in the U.S., legally or illegally, are criminals.

And if we believe the polls, millions of Americans agree, as his popularity continues to rise.

In politics, of course, that can change in a heartbeat, but the fact someone running for this nation’s highest office can stereotype a group of people and get away with it, with little political backlash from “we the people,” speaks volumes about our insensitivity to how important race is in our country.

If you dislike me, then dislike me for what I’ve done to you. Don’t dislike me just because I am black. The same goes for black people who hate white people simply because they are white.

And let’s stop playing the “race card.” Legitimate criticism of a black person does not automatically make you a racist or a bigot.

If, however, a black person is disciplined or fired for poor performance at a job, and a white person is not disciplined or fired for poor performance, that’s a problem, unless there’s a plausible compelling reason for one person to be treated differently.

The election of President Barack Obama should have galvanized our nation. Instead, electing the nation’s first biracial president just caused the racists to openly come out to spew their venom.

In fact, Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and a vice presidential candidate, once said that the tea party, the conservative section within the Republican Party, would not exist today if not for Obama’s election as president.

Let me be clear: I am not labeling as racist all those who adhere to the tea-party philosophy.

But where was the tea party during the eight-year Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton, a president who was impeached in 1998 for perjury before a grand jury and obstruction of justice, but later acquitted by the U.S. Senate?

The Greatest Generation – those who grew up in The Great Depression of the 1930s and fought in World War II – and the baby boomers born from 1946 to 1964 have failed to resolve the race issue.

My plea is to the so-called millennials – those born in the early 1980s to 1997 – to roll up their sleeves and find an answer to this conundrum.

Better yet, why don’t we all just follow this simple but profound biblical principle: So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at ebrown@vindy.com.

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