It seems the re-election of President Barack Obama is fueling increased incidents of “aggressive behavior” by some whites against Black people. Recent encounters in the workplace, online, on college campuses, on television and walking on the streets are giving everyday people a taste of the divided nation.
Back in August, freshman Jamal Woods notified an instructor at the University of Mississippi (known as Ole Miss) that a racial slur had been written on his dormitory room door. Fast forward to November and on the first Monday of the month a university patrol officer contacted him after discovering all four tires on his truck slashed, KKK etched into the truck’s hood and the N-word keyed into the tailgate. Tuesday’s election results were not fully in before students on the Ole Miss campus staged a 400 person riot in which racial slurs were shouted and two people were arrested.
There is going to have to be a proactive action plan to heal the racial divide in America. Although Obama won by a landslide in the Electoral College, the popular vote demonstrates that there is a clear divide in support along racial lines.
Of course this is not new territory for America. Back in 1997, then President Bill Clinton called for a “National Dialogue on Race”. This was a time when the changing demographics of America were again coming under close observation with the anticipated results of Census 2000. The final data showed that America had become more diverse than at any time in its history.
Now twelve years later, the impact of the changes can be ignored at your own risk. Team Mitt Romney has surely learned this the hard way. Even Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove, was unable to accept the reality of the startling loss experienced by America’s conservatives. On election night, while providing analysis live on Fox News, Rove questioned and challenged the networks decision to declare President Obama as the winner of the 2012 campaign. Rove was visually distraught. “My sources are telling me we may still win Ohio. Florida is too close to call. We’re rushing to judgment” he pleaded. Donald Trump, (his companies have filed for bankruptcy four times) took to Twitter to call for a “revolution” and even blasted Rove for wasting the “$400 million dollars” in monies his consulting firm received from clients in the failed campaign to “take back the White House”.
But it’s not just media pundits, bad hair billionaires, and political strategists that have been rocked to their core, its everyday white folks. Its people like 22-year-old Denise Helms of Turlock, California who was fired after the election from her job as manager at the local Cold Stone Creamery. Why? She took to Facebook to post “and another 4 years of this nigger maybe he will get assassinated this term..!!” “I’m not saying I’d go do that or anything like that, by any means, but if it was to happen I don’t think I’d care one bit.”
It’s time for America to wake-up. And it’s way past time for African Americans to be particularly mindful of the resentment in this country against Black people. We’ve seen Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant and numerous other innocent Black people harassed, beaten and murdered based on racial stereotypes. With the economy being the number one issue going into the election, and still hemorrhaging along in “recovery” post election, millions of people are looking for a convenient scapegoat.
Many won’t blame technology which has improved worker productivity and allows companies to do more with less people, while making record profits. They won’t blame “globalization” which allows U.S. companies to pursue the cheapest labor in the world and outsource millions of jobs to those countries and maximize profits. They won’t even blame the corporate CEO’s sitting on an estimated 5 trillion dollars in cash — with a “hiring freeze” until they see what happens. Nope. Too many of these ignorant white folks are going to blame, overtly or covertly, the African Americans they encounter in the course of their daily interactions.
To address this festering sore is going to require more than a beer summit. It’s going to take more than broad universal approaches for “all Americans”. It’s going to take leadership, targeted approaches, and frank dialogue about race – and this needs to happen now. Otherwise the next four years will bring increased polarization, heightened ignorance, and the further crumbling of democracy.