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The Question of Race

We have been talking a lot about racism and race relations on the show lately. Of course, Lani Silver has been our conscience on this issue, thanks to her 30 years of dedicated work on the issue.

But other voices have been heard these last few days. Last Thursday, Santa Maria Bill pushed the envelope as far as I’ve seen him ever go in accusing the country of practicing a form of “corporate racism” where minorities are deliberately oppressed by The Powers That Be, and have been since the ’60s. He and Jack from Grover Beach got into a heated exchange that night with Jack arguing that examples like Condi Rice, Colin Powell and the CEO of Coca Cola undermine Bill’s argument. Bill replied by saying these were only isolated examples and did not wipe out the research and he accused Jack of being a racist.

So Jack had his turn in studio Monday night and stuck to his basic thesis that the plight of all minorities has improved dramatically since 1968. One only need look at the campaign of Obama for President to see that.

And we also raised the question as to why the Central Coast/SLO County remains so predominantly white when the rest of California seems to be so diverse. Are we truly the last Anglo stronghold in California?

We just celebrated a national holiday designed to promote diversity and tolerance. Where do we stand in 2008? Have things improved during this generation, or is SM Bill correct that, overall, minorities have been shut out in this country, being marginalized by The Man?

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  1. Rich from Paso
    January 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Racism (From Webster’s): a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

    Are there that many people in America that would actually agree with that definition as their main means of choosing one group over another? I may be naive, but I can’t accept that there are actually that many people that believe that.

    I strongly believe that, as a society, America is not racist and hasn’t been for a long time. What we see today are individuals that continue to pre-judge people on another person’s accident of birth. That’s what racism is to me: the stereotyping all of a group that shares the same or similar accident of birth based on the preconceived notions formed by experiences with representatives of that group.

    A little story of where I think we are in America today: My wife and I on our honeymoon were standing in line for a luau on Maui. The young couple in front of us turned around and the woman says, “Oh, look honey, another inter-racial couple.” My wife, a Mexican, and I, a white guy, turned and looked behind us and said, in unison, “Where?” Swear to God that is 100% true.

    So, my point is that we still have a segment of Americans that still see people by race and then we have the rest that have, for the most part, gotten beyond race.

    When will all in America be able to look behind them and honestly go “Where?” when silly people make silly statements like that? When will Americans stop asking questions like that in the first place? Wouldn’t that be the day when we are actually the colorblind society that Dr. King wanted?

  2. golfingslo
    January 22, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Listening to last nights show, I was amazed at SM Bill’s comments. Using Bill’s argument, I would call him a racist for working for and taking a paycheck form the very same “Corperate America” that he claims to be racist. Which by the way is the same “Corperate America” Bill claims is where all of our problems stem from.

  3. Anonymous
    January 23, 2008 at 12:42 am

    I now many who belong to the minority groups that the mainstream media paints as victims and the so-called civil rights leaders inflame. There is no wide-spread racism over people of different skin complexion or foreign-sounding names. The “racism” that pervades America today is the celebration (by some) of an ungenuine multiculturalism, or non-assimilation, which can only harm a sovereign nation by dividing it against itself.

    That is what men like Sharpton, Jackson, and Farrakhan seek to do. That is what other leaders and organizations of most minority groups seek to do, groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) or the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), who care little about a progressive program of assimilation for prospective Muslim or Mexican citizens.

    If you asked, and if someone had the will to tell you, Americans are just sick of the hyphenated, multicultural twaddle that passes for “rights” these days. We really cannot understand, outside of economic reasons, why anyone who comes to these shores would not bend over backwards to become an American. Instead, we have millions of strangers in a (to them) strange land, who latch on to the Sharptons and Jacksons and special interest groups, as if that is what represents America best.

    Racism is perpatrated by those that say they suffer from it.
    End of story.

    So the next time you hear the race pimps selling their shtick to the “oppressed and downtrodden” of American society and blaming the “angry white male” for all that is evil and unfair, ask them a question. Ask them, if after forty years of singing the same old fight song, if the melody has gone astray, and have the words lost their meaning?

    I think it has, and I am no racist. I am just one of millions upon millions of Americans who wonder why so many would listen to those who would tell you that you are on the outside, looking in.

  4. Marilyn
    January 23, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Hi Dave,

    It’s been a while.

    On the issue of racism in the United States, it is still rampant. Although discrimination based on race and gender is illegal, especially in government institutions, it is still a problem. The proof is in the pudding. Percentage wise, non-white people continue to hold the majority of better paying jobs despite affirmative action and the laws.

    Blacks comprise about 13% of the population, yet the percentage of blacks among the prison population is 44% (from Human Rights Watch).

    Another less obvious indication of racism is the day-to-day attitudes and opinions that many people hold about the “viability” of minorities in American society. The perfect local example was the telling comment made by the Cuesta College official last year about a potential administrator of that college who happened to be black.

    We also have to distinguish between racism (negative attitudes towards people of different races) and discrimination (behavior that deprives people of rights because of the racial background). One can exist without the other, but they can also exist together.

    Most cultures have racist attitudes. The decent thing to do is to try to correct it and not deny its impact on the majority of minorities because of the successes of the few among them.

    Although Obama is running for president, his racial and religious background is under constant constant scrutiny.

    If we were truly such wonderful and understanding people, why even bring it up in an election discussion?

  5. Downtown Bob
    January 23, 2008 at 6:16 am

    After listening to a portion of the segment with Jack from Grover Beach on Monday about racism, I thought about my call and how I did not have an alternative to the pejorative term “those people”; “those people”, IMO, is a means of pointing out how this group or that are “different” than you, thereby it serves the purpose of excluding them from your circle or group because they are “different”.

    As an alternative to using “those people” I would like to suggest to Jack or anyone wanting to sound more like what they feel and believe that they address specifically the group they mean, i.e., “the blacks”, “the hispanics”, “the minorities”, etc., etc.. I know that in the overall scheme of things this is a very small, minute example (almost nitpicking), but I feel that every opportunity should be availed when attempting to move forward on an issue.

    I had called in when you had Lani Silver on recently talking about racism and I made the assertion that people cannot change who they are and Lani flatly disagreed with me; change is possible, but not immediately or easily. By choosing to react differently than you have in the past about an issue (like racism), you can, with practice change the way you behave, and hopefully even the way you think. The danger lies in believing that you have changed and then you stop making that conscience effort and then slipping back into your old way of thinking.

    Thanks for another timely segment, very appropriate for Martin Luther King Day.

  6. Anonymous
    January 23, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Since we have moved to town, my daughter — who, as you know, is adopted from China — has been involved in two separate racial incidents — that we know of.

    The first one, two years ago, was a Caucasian girl on the school bus who began taunting my daughtere with these words: “You’re CHINESE! You’re CHINESE! You’re CHINESE!” Other children then joined in. The bus driver had to stop the bus because it was becoming this crowd hysteria. It was a Caucasian girl in my daughter’s class who stood up for her and held her, who was sobbing.

    We later found out that the girl who began the chant is the daughter of a man who just got out of prison — god knows what she was hearing from him — and the girl’s mother is in a mental institution. The girl also has a baby sister who has Down Syndrome.

    The second one has been going on for some time — it’s an off-and-on thing — and now that my daughter is older (she is 10), she doesn’t like to talk about it. But, it’s a group of Hispanic boys who go up to her (and sometimes to another Chinese adoptee) and slant their eyes w/ their hands and start talking in Sid Caesar-like Chinese.

    We talked to the principal about this and she supposedly (who knows?) was going to take care of it.

    A Caucasian friend of ours adopted a very dark skinned African-American baby who is now two years old. She may be the only black person in in our town. It will be very interesting to see how she is treated by her peers once she starts school.

    I don’t know about other towns on the Central Coast, but racial divisions here are, in my opinion, just below the surface. You don’t have to dig — scratching a little will do.

  7. Rich from Paso
    January 25, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t think that relying on children is an accurate indicator of the racial climate in SLO county. Children have been mean and cruel to one another for centuries. My daughter is a large girl and a little boy made fun of her calling her “fatty”. After I confronted his mother about the way he treated my daughter, his mother scolded him saying, “Why are you teasing this girl about her weight when you know how sensitive I am about mine?” Does thisstory mean that SLO county has a problem with discrimination of obese people? No. It means that children can be mean and cruel. We need better anecdotal evidence then two events with children.

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