Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of an America where his children “…will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.” His was a dream of racial harmony among all Americans. Sorry Dr. King, we are not there yet and the culprit is no longer Jim Crow. The new culprits are: 1) liberals who promulgate government policies that force Americans to relate to each other on the basis of skin color rather than character, merit, achievement, or any other rational criterion, AND 2) racial opportunists who stir up trouble between the races for profit and self-promotion. These liberals and opportunists, who ironically claim to be latter-day followers of Dr. King, are guilty of precisely the types of practices he suffered and died trying to eradicate.
Because America is so diverse, all Americans will benefit from racial harmony just as all will suffer from the lack of it. Consequently, one would think that racial harmony is a worthy goal that would be pursued by people of good faith from both ends of the political spectrum. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Before going further with this argument, let me state that I am not naïve. I know there are still bigots in America that believe in the superiority of one race over another. Unfortunately, these foolish individuals will always be with us, and they come in every race, color, and culture. But radical race-based splinter groups are not the problem that continues to undermine racial harmony in America. Rather, the problem is misguided liberals who promote practices that have the effect of pitting racial groups against each other, practices that have become ingrained in American society.
The first of these practices consists of government policies that require Americans to identify themselves by race. Job applications, census surveys, financial aid forms, and almost all other forms of government paperwork require Americans to put themselves in a racial box. But in a diverse society, people do not always fit comfortably into government mandated boxes. What box does the individual with one white and one black parent check? What about an individual with one Hispanic parent and one Asian? Not to be outdone by the reality of mixed races, the government has responded to America’s growing racial tapestry by adding a new box to its forms: “multicultural.” I have a friend whose father was Hispanic and his mother Asian who refuses to check the multicultural box on government forms. Instead, where the form asks for his race, he writes: “Indy 500.”
The second misguided practice that undermines racial harmony in America is illogically called affirmative action. In theory, affirmative action was supposed to ensure that qualified racial minorities were given a chance. In practice, it quickly became a way to enforce government-coerced racial preferences. Affirmative action or any other system that chooses between people of different races on the basis of anything but merit (e.g. achievement, performance, etc.) is just racial discrimination by another name. All that affirmative action has done is change who is being discriminated against. In other words, affirmative action is government sanctioned Jim Crow in reverse.
The final misguided practice that undermines racial harmony in America is the maintenance of a racial double standard. The double standard shows up in a variety of ways, but one of the most consistent is in what is reported by the media and how it is reported. No incident so clearly illustrates the media’s contribution to America’s racial double standard as the Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman is of mixed parentage: white and Hispanic. But the media repeatedly refers to him as “white.” This is because the media not only knows about the racial double standard in America, it does all it can to promote, encourage, and maintain it. According to the mainstream media, a white man killing a black man is news, but a minority killing another minority is not. Much to the shame of the mainstream media, had the young man who shot Trayvon Martin been black, his killing would have warranted nothing more than a few lines on the back pages of a local newspaper, if that.
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton notwithstanding, there are black leaders who are concerned about the racial double standard in America. According to Walter Williams (Townhall.com, May 23, 2012), “When President Barack Obama commented about the Trayvon Martin case, T. Willard Fair, president of the Urban League of Greater Miami, told The Daily Caller that ‘…the outrage should be about us killing each other, about black-on-black crime. Wouldn’t you think to have 41 people shot (in Chicago) between Friday and Monday morning would be much more newsworthy and deserve much more outrage?’ Former NAACP leader Pastor C.L. Bryant said the rallies organized by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson suggest there is an epidemic of ‘white men killing black young men. The epidemic is truly black-on-black crime. The greatest danger to the lives of young black men are young black men.’” If the goal is racial harmony in America—and it should be—we won’t get there like this.