Nothing new about racism of course but now that it is less blatantly shown the strategy for indulging in it has changed. What I’ve noticed….
1.) The reaction to Paula Deen’s comments under deposition as well as her plans to hold a slavery themed wedding and her brother’s comments to African-Americans at the restaurant she owns showed an attempt, part of an ongoing process, to separate racism from present day America and in a sense excuse it by defining it as from another time the way we excuse Columbus’s genocide and slavery and a whole host of historical evils. However, we are only 50 years removed from major civil rights legislation. The excuse that Deen is from another time in the South and is allowed to use language of this nature is just bullshit. When’s the cutoff then? If we consider 1964 year zero for race relations in the USA then what of lingering racist language, attitudes, and actions? If we are in a post-racial society then those who use racist language and indulge in racist actions should be doubly punished. The Food Channel was right to give Deen the boot. The Supreme Court was wrong to gut the Voting Rights Act. Literacy tests and Poll Taxes are not that far in the past. Limiting minority voting is an old Republican trick. Republicans only win office when voter turn-out is low.
2.) Under the aegis of fighting crime, a lot of injustices have been done and are still being done to the African American community (and Hispanics as well). Despotic midget Michael Bloomberg has now all but admitted that the stop and frisk program is race based. African-American are given much longer prison sentences than white counterparts and more likely to be thrown in jail for bogus crimes. Police brutality is still a big problem for African Americans. Police are more likely to use deadly force against African Americans because they know they can get away with it. There is not much regard for those who live in poorer areas especially if they are non-white. Trayvon Martin’s body lay in the morgue for two days before anyone thought to call his parents. A lot of these problems would be solved by a Federal Anti-Racial Profiling Bill which is something I strongly support. Also decriminalizing marijuana and other drugs and getting rid of corporate for profit prisons (relying on constantly being filled up with prisoners) as well as strong Federal financial penalties on local prosecutor offices who knowingly convict innocent men of capital crimes by hiding evidence, manipulating witnesses etc. would go a long way
3.) Terrorism and the issue of immigration also provide cover for racists. The line between xenophobia and racism is thin and often it is only a matter of semantics. The way Arabs, Indians or anyone with a funny name is mocked on television shows like The Simpsons and in movies where the villains are Muslim terrorists creates a climate of ugliness. Hatred of foreigners is one of the few acceptable prejudices left in the USA. A way to marginalize anyone who isn’t white as the white majority gets closer demographically to being a white minority in America. The controversial Arizona Immigration Bill gives police the right to stop anyone who looks like an immigrant (i.e. brown people) and ask them for identification. That is both unconstitutional and unacceptable in a country with a rule of law like America.
Racism in America in 2013 is sneakier and either excuses itself as part of ancient history or under the guise of crimefighting. The good news is (as shown by the Paula Deen episode) that the light of day embarrasses and demolishes the racist. In present day America, exposing and otherwise calling out the racist often solves the problem and one should not hesitate to do this when confronted with a bigot (this goes for homophobia too).