United States A Nation of Cowards??

MA-Caver

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Holder: US is nation of cowards on racial matters

By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer Devlin Barrett, Associated Press Writer 1 hr 8 mins ago
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090218/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/holder_race
WASHINGTON Attorney General Eric Holder described the United States Wednesday as a nation of cowards on matters of race, saying most Americans avoid discussing awkward racial issues.
In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.
"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," said Holder, nation's first black attorney general.
Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, Holder said, but "we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."
He urged people of all races to use Black History Month as a chance for honest discussion of racial matters, including issues of health care, education, and economic disparities.
I don't know if this guy is going to win any popularity contests or not. I can understand his message but it's still a slap in the face either way. Seems what he's asking for is a total lifestyle choice of desegregation on the whole of the populace. I'm sure there are many who wouldn't have a problem inviting a different race person into their home for social stuff and I'm sure that many do on a regular basis.
Seems he's using to broad of a knife to paint the picture as "fine, I'll work with them but won't associate with them off the clock!"
It does happen, maybe not as broadly as this guy wants it to happen but it does happen and more frequently than in the last 10-15 years. But the stigma of racism is a hard thing to get rid of and it'll take time, it'll take at least, IMO, another generation or two to break the self-imposed barriers even further.
Calling us a nation of cowards -- racially speaking is kinda stupid I think, we DID elect a Black man for president didnt' we? Oh wait... he's half black and half white... BIG difference <sarcasm> .
 

Bill Mattocks

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Interesting comments. I don't know if we're a nation of cowards or not, but I agree that we often tend to avoid frank, open, and honest discussions about race. I'm generally not comfortable discussing it, and I feel comfortable about discussing many things.
 
OP
MA-Caver

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Interesting comments. I don't know if we're a nation of cowards or not, but I agree that we often tend to avoid frank, open, and honest discussions about race. I'm generally not comfortable discussing it, and I feel comfortable about discussing many things.
Well the question is WHY are we?
Is it because we may accidentally step on a nerve?
That the "N-word" might slip out during the conversation?
That our real prejudices may show through during the course of the conversations?
 

Kreth

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As long as we have things like Black History Month, and universities have a (using an example from today's local rag) Department of African and Latino Studies, segregation will be an issue.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Well the question is WHY are we?
That is the question, yes. I think the answer, if there is one, is multi-dimensional and deeply buried.

Is it because we may accidentally step on a nerve?

Yes.

That the "N-word" might slip out during the conversation?

For some of us, yes.

That our real prejudices may show through during the course of the conversations?

Yes.

No one is free of prejudice, no one is free of racism. I include myself in that indictment. Injustice has been piled on injustice in the USA, and justice has not always been done, or seen to be done. Many people are insecure, many are angry, many harbor resentment, and many just don't want to talk about it - or don't want to be made to talk about it.

Did you read this thread I started?

http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=73062

The man who saved me? A black man. I thought about mentioning that in the story. I didn't, ultimately, because it didn't matter to the story, which was about a man with a chip on his shoulder (me), biting off more than he could chew, and getting his butt whooped pretty thoroughly, and luckily saved by the actions of a good Samaritan.

Yet, I thought about it. And I cannot remember back to that incident without remembering that the man who saved me was a black man. Why does that matter to me that I remember it so clearly? I know if he had another distinguishing (to me) feature like red hair or freckles, I'd have forgotten by now, or never noticed in the first place. Why did I notice and why did I care and why did I have to even think "should I mention this in the story or not?"

I don't know. I try to examine my own beliefs, confront my own prejudices, and challenge my own racism, sexism, religionism, whenever I suspect I harbor it. I don't know how successful I am at it. I don't know where to begin with the dialog. I don't know who cares or if it matters what unworthy thoughts I harbor from time to time.

For what it's worth, it's been going on for a long time. The Good Samaritan? The reason the 'Samaritan' part was important to the story at the time was because of a common prejudice that Samaritans were not, er, samaritan-y.

I may be one of the only people in the world who thinks the GEICO 'caveman' series of TV commercials is actually edgy racial humor, playing on racial stereotypes and hidden racism in whites. Or else it is just flat racist. It's disturbing to me.
 

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Yeah, well the guy who rolled over on the pardon of billionaire Marc Rich doesn't need to be lecturing others on cowardice.

Another thing.... what's he know about who our friends are and what we talk about? Sounds like stereotyping and nasty overgeneralizing to me.
 

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I think the term "cowards" was a little too harsh. However, it did bring us on the subject of race so in that light, it's successful.

I think Americans, generally speaking, are over-involved with the topic of race. Our concepts of "cool" is dictated at least in part due to race. We live, breathe, and eat racial stereotypes every day. Our media stream is saturated with racial flotsam and jetsam.

Americans aren't cowards, or are afraid to "talk about race." We're just sick and tired of something like that being the premise of the issue at hand, because it always leads to something like "it's because I'm [insert nationality here]"

When will American leaders finally kick the nasty habit of bringing race to the forefront? It's a sad, belittling, stereotypical defense mechanism that Americans of all races fall back on; primarily due to leaders urging folks to rely on that wobbly crutch.

You can't bring up race without bringing up racism, and how it applies to you, and how you apply it to others. Everyone is racist to a degree; our media dictates it. However, it takes a measure of hatred to keep on bringing up Americans' inherent racism and act upon it as a bigot. There are a lot of people out there that can't make that distinction.
 

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(Holder) urged people of all races to use Black History Month as a chance for honest discussion of racial matters, including issues of health care, education, and economic disparities.

I agree. From my perspective as a teacher in Canada, Black History Month is an opportunity to observe history through different lenses. This type of exercise can take students in a couple of different directions:

1. There's a comedian who appears on the Daily Show as the African-American corespondent. He did a funny bit last year about BHM, something like: In exchange for 500 years of bondage, we get twenty-eight days of trivia. A lot of the early material I ran across as a beginning elementary teacher looked like this: http://afgen.com/proud.html

Theo's job was to sweep the floor. He swept and swept and swept. When he reached for the dustpan, it was not there. You see, Lloyd P. Ray, a Black man, invented the dustpan. So he swept his pile of dirt over in the corner and left it there. He then decided to mop the floor, but the mop was gone. You see, Thomas W. Stewart, a Black man, invented the mop.

God, how I loathe this little article, which you can find published on countless websites. It prattles on for pages about black people inventing combs, hair dryers, and vacuum cleaners. Nobody spends this much time talking about Thomas Edison and the light bulb, or Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone. Once you've read the whole thing a hundred times, as I have, you conclude the whole point was to say: You see, Black folks are really quite clever.

The other thing that grew a tiresome was the endless parade of black sports heroes. You cannot surprise a kid at any grade level with tales of Jackie Robinson anymore, and to do so is to revive an era in which African Americans were permitted prominence in the arenas of sport and entertainment only.

If this is the cut-and-thrust of Black History Month, I would have divested myself a long time ago. However...

2. Having come through all of that, new materials and new ideas are breaking through. I can now teach children about Africville, Nova Scotia, an extraordinary tale of early African American settlers to Canada, a story that was unavailable during my elementary education. Or I can direct them to a wealth of information at http://blackhistorycanada.ca/theme.php?id=2

I'm gradually accumulating literally stacks of books on this subject that did not exist a few years ago.

This is exciting to me as a teacher because eight years ago, when I transitioned from teaching adults to teaching kids, none of this stuff was available in a format that I could present to children. If it existed, I didn't know about it because no one ever taught me. The same is very much the case in the USA as a once little known celebration (BHM) has driven a demand for literature, music and art to revive old stories that were unknown to many and only explored at the higher academic levels. It is an expansion both market and intellect.

The point of my long-winded diatribe is that through this singular focused effort of Black History Month, history gets bigger. A thoughtful teacher will be able to impart to students that just perhaps there is more to history than what we read or hear at any given moment.
 

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Because if a white person is critical of any other race the "race card" gets dropped on the table.
 

Bob Hubbard

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Because if a white person is critical of any other race the "race card" gets dropped on the table.
Question "Black History Month", get called a racist.
Been there, have the links to prove it.

If the answer isn't "because the white man is keeping the black man down", you're a bigot.

I'll gladly talk about the issue, soon as people stop making excuses for their failings, and using the actions of a dutch ship captain who died 200+ years ago as a crutch.

Until then, I'll keep quietly celebrating "National White Man Day" the same time I do every year. February 30th.
 

elder999

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As long as we have things like Black History Month, and universities have a (using an example from today's local rag) Department of African and Latino Studies, segregation will be an issue.


I posted my opinion on Black History Month in this thread, four years ago, in the aftermath of Morgan Freeman's well meant but somewhat misguided comments. I think I'll quote it in its entirety, since it still seems appropriate:

el Brujo de la Cueva (that's me!!) said:
Does Black History Month actually separate us as Americans?

Not if it&#8217;s done right.

Freeman is hardly the first African American to gripe about Black History Month.

Funny story:

About 15 years ago, I was working in the training department at a commercial nuclear power plant, back in New York. I was partnered with a Caucasian fellow named Bob, who was and is simply one of the most upright, kind and completely unflappable people I&#8217;ve ever dealt with. We had lots of fun conversations in what was essentially a boring job-at least, it was supposed to be boring; when it was exciting, there was usually something terribly wrong.

Anyway, one day in late January-and remember, this is winter in upstate N.Y., cold to rival Alaska-I jokingly said, And what is up with giving us February? I know what it was, &#8216;they want their own month now? Let&#8217;s give &#8216;em February, and there&#8217;ll be no marching&#8230;.&#8221; Bob looks right at me, deadpan, doesn&#8217;t miss a beat and in the utmost sincerity says, &#8220;It&#8217;s not your Black History Month; it&#8217;s all of ours.&#8221;

To which I could only say he was right-he was, like me, usually right&#8230;.

More seriously, an uncle of mine used to complain, &#8220;Why do we get the shortest month?&#8221; Why, indeed?

It was Carter G. Woodson, a great black historian educated at Harvard and the University of Chicago who initiated what would become Black History month with &#8220;Negro History Week,&#8221; in 1926. He used to complain about it, too. He hoped the event would eventually put itself out of business by promoting the respectful integration of Negro history with everyone else&#8217;s history. In many ways, black history studies have made a lot of progress since those days. In many other ways, we&#8217;re still waiting.

Woodson chose the second week of February so the big week would coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. If Frederick Douglas, who escaped slavery to become a pioneer journalist, diplomat and advisor to Lincoln, were anywhere near as well integrated into American history studies as he is into African American history studies, there would be no need for Black History Month.

And the fact is, most Americans have at least a vague idea of who Douglas, G.W. Carver and Crispus Attucs were, and that&#8217;s about as far as it goes-they may have heard of these men, or even remember them in detail, but what they really remember is Paul Revere, and &#8220;two if by sea,&#8221; even though it didn&#8217;t quite happen that way. Sadly, there are numerous other African Americans throughout American history who made substantial contributions to America, and odds are good that without Black History Month, many of you would never know about them..

Fact is, there isn&#8217;t one aspect of today&#8217;s American culture that hasn&#8217;t been informed by or some form of a response to the presence of African Americans (and yes, that is a challenge), in spite of my famous joke about convening a meeting of &#8216;the Society of African American Nuclear Engineer..&#8221;(you know, as I&#8217;m heading off to sit on the toilet&#8230;.)-and yes, along with my usually more noted American Indian heritage, mine is essentially an Anglicized African American name, and I am descended from freed slaves-who went on to rather famous success in shipping, agriculture and commerce, though one ancestor was burned alive in the slave riots of new York in 1712&#8230;..things you probably didn&#8217;t read about in American history class, but should have&#8230;..

Morgan Freeman offers a delightfully enlightened viewpoint on how to perceive people as individuals, but as far as eliminating racism goes-and it still exists-I&#8217;ve never known a problem to go away by not talking about it. The French sort of tried that: they swept their race problems under the rug in the spirit of &#8220;liberte, egalite, fraternite&#8221;, and refused, as a matter of French law, to recognize that different races exist, which made it hard, if not impossible, for the law to deal with decades of racial discrimination. Long standing racial and ethnic grievances led to the recent uprisings by poor, largely unemployed Arab and African youths in towns across France, just as they led to riots throughout American history.

We Amercians need not, and should not run from our own racial past. It is very much a part of our turbulent history, from the great debate the Framers of the Constitution staged over how to count slaves for purposes of reapportionment (&#8220;three-fifths of a person&#8221;??) to today&#8217;s first black woman Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice.

The bad old days of separtism tried to erase black folks from American history. Black History Month , if only for that month, puts us back in. It is not &#8220;:ridiculous&#8221; to study the tragedies and triumphs of the many, many people who made this country what it is. They have a lot to teach us. We need Black History Month. We don&#8217;t need to limit it to blacks only-or to only a month.

As to the greater issue of the original post-Holder is right and wrong. We're having the conversation, but right here and now most of us are actually having a conversation about the conversation-and the responses in that regard are telling. There are people who post here who are never going to say exactly how they feel about blacks and poverty, or blacks and crime, or the (non)issue of reparations, or any number of things, for fear of being labeled "racist." There are posters here who aren't going to say anything about any of those things because they know that they are racists. There are people who will try to talk about any number of "racial" issues, but try to ignore that there are real and legitimate differences between people-that our country has developed with distinct cultures that influence each other, and have for centuries.

Oh, well....
 

Carol

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I spend a good part of my job interacting with people of another race/language/culture. I'm not truly bilingual but I'm functional enough to be able to work and communicate with Spanish speaking people and not have to switch to English when speaking with them. In addition to juggling the professional differences, I often have to juggle differences of personal perceptions of the different cultures as well.

My friends have brought up race and racial issues in a discussion before, and have done so recently. I won't necessarily shy away from the subject. However, I may not be one to start the conversation either. Because...its a lot like work. I don't always want to think about work when I have some precious free time.
 

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We are not a "Nation of Cowards"..we are a nation of people who have been told that there will be consequences if our opinions don't "toe the party line".
 

Gordon Nore

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I posted my opinion on Black History Month in this thread, four years ago, in the aftermath of Morgan Freeman's well meant but somewhat misguided comments. I think I'll quote it in its entirety, since it still seems appropriate...

Alas, I wasn't here to rep you four years ago, and the thingy won't let me rep you now, so I'm just going to thank you for sharing this again.
 

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That our real prejudices may show through during the course of the conversations?

I don't know about anybody else, but I have been made hyperaware my whole life of how "racist" I must be if I even mention another person's race when describing him/her. "See, you described him as Asian, that proves you're really bigoted, why didn't you just say he was dark haired and brown eyed" for instance.

In our overly PC modern culture, anything you say with regards to race can and will get used against you. So, yes, I am afraid to be "outed" as a closet racist if I talk about a person's race at all.
 

elder999

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Question "Black History Month", get called a racist.
Been there, have the links to prove it.

Not from me-we both have the links (right here!) to prove it. :lol:


If the answer isn't "because the white man is keeping the black man down", you're a bigot.

See above. :lol:


I'll gladly talk about the issue, soon as people stop making excuses for their failings, and using the actions of a dutch ship captain who died 200+ years ago as a crutch.

No "excuses" from me-see above :lfao:


Until then, I'll keep quietly celebrating "National White Man Day" the same time I do every year. February 30th.

Get down with your bad self, Bob!

Is there a "National White Women Day?"

Or am I playing into a stereotype by even asking???:lfao::lfao::lfao:
 

Deaf Smith

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Aw comeon Eric Holder....

Go look at the rest of the world.

Japan is totaly raceist.

Africa is totaly raceist. Hey, they STILL HAVE SLAVERY!!

Europe? Show me any black or Jewish prime ministers or even MPs.

China? Hahahaha. Go see how many gringos are over there.

India? Ever here of the caste system? Try being Jewish in Pakistani.

Holder knows all this, but well he's a Democrate liberal so what do you expect.

Rhetoric trumps logic any day with these guys.

Deaf
 

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I don't know about anybody else, but I have been made hyperaware my whole life of how "racist" I must be if I even mention another person's race when describing him/her. "See, you described him as Asian, that proves you're really bigoted, why didn't you just say he was dark haired and brown eyed" for instance.

In our overly PC modern culture, anything you say with regards to race can and will get used against you. So, yes, I am afraid to be "outed" as a closet racist if I talk about a person's race at all.

Exactly. The media here wont even describe a crime suspect as a "black (or white) male" anymore.
 

elder999

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Aw comeon Eric Holder....

Go look at the rest of the world.

Well, that's somewhat disingenuous. He's the Attorney General of the United States of America. His opinion is about the place where he lives and works. Let's have a look, though:

Japan is totaly raceist.

And has a thousand some-odd year history of being almost completely culturally and racially homgeonous, as well as isolated. More's the pity, but it's not like they can help it.

Africa is totaly raceist. Hey, they STILL HAVE SLAVERY!!

Africa is a continent, not a country. It's comprised of many different races. When you say "Africa," do you mean that Egyptians hate Sudanese and Nigerians, or that Zulus hate white South Africans?


Europe? Show me any black or Jewish prime ministers or even MPs.

England had a Jewish Prime Minister before the 20th century named Benjamin Disraeli, you can read about him here.


China? Hahahaha. Go see how many gringos are over there.

There are, in fact, a great many Americans working in China. Additionally, the "native" populace of that very, very large country is composed of a variety of ethnicities that aren't really "Chinese."

Of course, that doesn't make them not racist, any more than the U.S. isn't because of the diversity of our population.


India? Ever here of the caste system? Try being Jewish in Pakistani.

India? See "China" in reference to diverse population. Sure, their caste system sucks. Jesw in Pakistan? Jews have been in Pakistan for a long, long time, though today most Jews in Pakistan are mistaken for Zorastrians.


Holder knows all this, but well he's a Democrate liberal so what do you expect.

Of course, maybe he knows all of it, but it's hardly relevant, so what do you expect?:rolleyes:


Rhetoric trumps logic any day with these guys.

Deaf

Pot?Kettle? :rolleyes:
 

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