President Barack Obama is the first African American president of the United States. Some may think that shows how far the country has come since segregation.
However, it seems that racial tensions have increased since Barack Obama began running for president. During the campaign, when anyone opposed his policies, they were accused of being racist. That prejudice has continued. Tea Party members are accused of being racist. In some publicized occasions, the accusation has incited violence.
Many headlines have been popping up recently, but a big incident of racial friction happened last July. Sgt. James Crowley arrested Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for disorderly conduct at his Cambridge home July 16 while investigating a possible burglary. Gates alleged he was a victim of racial profiling. Charges were later dropped. In the midst of this incident, Obama commented that the police sergeant “behaved stupidly”.
Everyone behaved stupidly. Both Crowley and Gates could have handled the situation with more aplomb. But worse, Obama made a judgement without knowing the facts. As the President of the United States, he shouldn’t have made any comment.
This summer, a Department of Justice dismissed voter intimidation charges against the New Black Panther Party, prompting criticism from conservative groups who said the black president was unwilling to prosecute fellow blacks for civil rights violations. A Department of Justice worker said this had become DOJ policy.
Which brings us to Sherrod.
This week, Shirley Sherrod, a black official at the Agriculture Department, said her bosses pushed her to quit after conservative media repeatedly broadcast a tape that seemed to show her saying she had discriminated against a white farmer because of his race. Turns out Sherrod was talking about something that happened years ago and taught her a lesson about the race. But, only the racist statements were released to the media.
Many think Andrew Breitbart, who broke the story, was set up. Words like ‘racist’ and ‘conservative media’ are being thrown around.
Clearly, race is still an issue. America cannot claim to be a post-racial society as long as snap-judgements, misconceptions, and miscommunications determine policy.