Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Skin-Deep: Racism in America
I saw a promo for a feature, Skin-Deep: Racism in America, that will be on CNN's Paula Zahn show this evening. The clip showed a discussion of "sundown" towns, where blacks were encouraged to get out of the town before dark fell. I'm glad to see an attempt to talk about racism. We Southerners are well aware of our history on the subject of racism in general, and quite frankly, it isn't pretty.
This really isn't a regional issue, though. When we lived in Mariemont, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, I learned that this quaint, planned village had its own history as a "sundown" town where black maids and service workers were told to leave before dark for their own good. Of course, this had been customary many years earlier, but there lingered the idea that blacks weren't welcome. I checked the 2000 U.S. Census and found that out of a population of 3408, a mere 34 were African American.
I wonder how long it takes to change. We start down the road to Equality, but so often I think attitudes like those expressed in the clip for the show tonight reveal that underlying racism. Most telling was a white woman in a cafe who said something like, "No, I'm not a racist. I talk to black people. But," she added, "when it comes to eating with them, I draw the line." I ask, dear gentle readers, how many times have you heard or said those words, "No, I'm not a racist."