09.17.09 ----- Finally, a white man reveals what African-Americans have known for years. Yes Virginia, racism does exist.
It’s been my experience that because crosses aren’t burning in yards and we’re not openly and typically called the ‘N-word’ on a regular basis, that racism ended in the 60s. But on the contrary, it is alive in a more subtle way. Many of us have experienced the injustice when we’re followed around in department stores, passed over for promotions, seated last in restaurants. And it’s not just those African-Americans who are economically or educationally challenged that are experiencing this injustice. It’s a reality for affluent blacks and one that I strongly believe President Obama is experiencing.
On Tuesday, Former President Jimmy Carter stirred the pot when he declared that Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst to President Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act "based on racism" and rooted in fears of a black president.
“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he is African-American," Carter told NBC’s Brian Williams in an interview Tuesday.
The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders. He repeated his sentiments at a town hall held later at his presidential center in Atlanta.
"Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," he said. "It's deeper than that."
In an attempt to smooth things over and not play the race card, spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Obama — the nation's first black president — doesn't think that criticism of his policies is "based on the color of his skin."
Unfortunately, this reaction among African-Americans isn’t surprising.
Michael Steele, the first African-American to chair the Republican National Committee, denied Wednesday that race is fueling protests.
"President Carter is flat-out wrong," Steele said in a statement. "This isn't about race. It is about policy."
Steele said Democrats are just trying to divert attention from what he called the president's "wildly unpopular government-run health care plan."
It’s often seen as a weakness by white Americans for minorities to declare any sort of discrimination – even when it blatantly exists.
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby said Wednesday in a written statement on his facebook page that he agrees with Carter.
I agree with President Carter that racism is playing a role in recent outbursts against President Obama. During President Obama’s speech on the status of health care reform, some members of congress engaged in a public display of disrespect. While one Representative hurled the now infamous “you lie” insult at the President, others made their lack of interest known by exhibiting rude behavior such as deliberately yawning and sending text messages ....
Various polls prior to the election indicated that between five and ten percent of Americans would never vote for an African American president. That number, of course, only includes those who actually admitted to their prejudice. How many others harbored such feelings but did not respond honestly when asked the question? And how many people oppose Obama’s plan because the President is African American?
In "Birth of a Nation," D.W. Griffith used white actors in black face to portray black legislators as having low intelligence and acting like fools. Today, we have a band of real life congressional fools seemingly bent on blocking any meaningful reform of the health care system. But if we allow even one American to die simply because he or she cannot afford treatment, we are creating a shameful scenario that could aptly be called “Death of a Nation.”
Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, was formally rebuked Tuesday in a House vote for shouting "You lie!" during Obama's speech to Congress last Wednesday.
The shout came after the president commented that illegal aliens would be ineligible for federal subsidies to buy health insurance. Republicans expressed their disbelief with sounds of disapproval, punctuated by Wilson's outburst.
Despite the controversy, hankfully Carter is strong enough to stick to his guns and has continued to reiterate Wednesday that he believes racism is an issue for President Obama in trying to lead the country.
"When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds," the Democrat who served from 1977-1981 told students at Emory University.
"I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American.
"It's a racist attitude, and my hope is and my expectation is that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the president of the United States," Carter said.
"I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that shares the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans."
To Former President Carter, I have too.