Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Racial Harmony Requires Effort

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Racial Harmony Requires Effort

Article excerpt

WHEN IT COMES to race in America, I suspect that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - borrowing from Charles Dickens - would find this to be the best of times and the worst of times.

We have made tremendous strides on matters of race since the mid-1950s when King first burst onto the national scene.

Restrictions no longer exist that prevent African-Americans from going to the polls and making decisions about what types of individuals we want representing us on city councils, the mayor's office, the governor's mansion and the White House.

No longer are we forced to buy meals to go because of policies that prevent blacks from getting sit-down service at restaurants.

No longer are we prohibited from attending functions or watching films at particular theaters because of policies that refuse admittance to blacks.

And, of course, no longer are we forced to sit at the back of the bus.

I suspect that when my grandfather was born, in the latter part of the 19th century, such strides would have been considered unthinkable.

The thought that blacks and whites could mingle in public places, work together in offices and other settings, even date or marry if they so desired surely would have been considered radical.

What a difference a century makes.

We have many people of different colors to thank - King being among them - for those achievements.

Indeed, in many of these areas, these are the best of times.

But other problems remain that, in some ways, suggest that these are the worst of times.

Despite tremendous strides, the dialogue between blacks and whites seems worse than ever. Although some refuse to even discuss racial issues out of fear of what others might think of them, others seem to use intentionally inflammatory language to get a rise out of people.

How else could you explain the use of the "n" word, or the phrase "white boy" when talking about adults?

After all, wouldn't whites be offended by the use of the "h" word? Wouldn't African-American adults feel insulted if they were called "black boys?"

Resentment of whites by some blacks and disgust with blacks by some whites add more venom to the already poisonous mixture. …

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