Can racism in America be cracked?

A quick glimpse through the Drudge Report the other night brought up quite a few articles focused on racial issues. While I know that Matt Drudge lives for controversy, I still had to wonder whether this was indicative of our nation as a whole. I am always hesitant to write about racial incidents given my background (white, middle-income, small town/suburban). What in the world do I know about it? I grew up in a relatively homogeneous community, and I live in one today. Still, I am concerned.

Drudge had linked to a story about a large group of black people who were “kicked out” of a restaurant in South Carolina (that was not the exact link – but it tells the same story). Of course, I decided to read the comments of the story…and I was truly ashamed that I did so. Even with the media source’s requirement that commentors be logged into their Facebook accounts, the racial slurs and derogatory remarks flew right and left. They were a (not so friendly) reminder that racism is NOT unidirectional either. I realize that a newspaper comment section is hardly indicative of the population as a whole…or at least I hope it is not. Still, over 600 comments – the vast majority of which were racist – it leads me to wonder if beneath it all, things have really become any better than what they were fifty years ago when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous “I have a Dream” speech.

Focusing on the aforementioned in particular: perhaps most of America is like me, if a group of twenty-five people were waiting to be seated as I was eating it would be a disruption. It would not be because of the color of their skin, it would be because of their number.  Large groups can get rowdy sometimes, especially if they have been waiting for TWO hours as this group reportedly was (why they were waiting so long is unclear – did they not make a reservation, did the host/hostess refuse to seat them…I don’t know). Granted this was in a wing joint and not Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, therefore any disruption they may have caused would have been significantly lessened if South Carolina wing places are like those up North.

However, what was vastly worse than the action perpetuated by the restaurant was the reaction to the story.  White people automatically calling out the black people who were potential clientele, black commentors responding with racist remarks of their own, smattered with a few opinions that were not incendiary. Why can’t the discussion ever be elevated when it comes to race? It always seems to degrade to the lowest level possible when given the opportunity to do so.

Unfortunately, racism of all kinds is still alive and well within the United States. The question is – is that racism growing? If so, what can be done to stop it? After all, the United States of America is supposed to be the “last best hope of earth“.