The term “racist” has become almost as offensive to Americans as the “N” word is. Calling the average American a racist will elicit a varied response, but most Americans will be offended, and will defend their minority friendly credibility with a story about their black friend, a count of the minority friends on their Facebook friends list, or even the fact they voted for Barack Obama.
The media is generally quick to accuse politicians and superstars of making “racist comments” even though some of these comments taken in context may not have really been racism. Calling someone a racist can be a weapon in politics, if you can convince voters that one candidate in any race is a racist, the negative publicity can change the vote.
With the general attitude in the mainstream being very anti-racist on the surface, generally we feel that in our country we have “moved past that”. After all we elected our first black President, so we cannot be a racist nation right?
Despite all of this, racism is still alive in America. Recently I was talking to a black friend who lives in a small town in Montana. In her place of employment a group of customers were discussing the upcoming election, debating whether they would vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. A few of the customers were calling Barack Obama a “ni**er” right in front of her. She was absolutely hurt, not just that they were making this racist slur, but right in front of her while she stood there listening. She burst into tears. How could these people hate her so bad that they would do that? It is the year 2012, haven’t we moved past that?
The Associated Press developed surveys, which were administered online, to measure sensitive racial views in several ways and repeated those studies several times between 2008 and 2012. In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote in his Nov. 6 contest against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. **
So in truth a deep seated racism still exists in much of our culture. If it can affect the outcome of the Presidential election, it surely can affect the board of pardons and parole. If average everyday Montanans can be blatantly racist when speaking of the President of the United States, they can certainly be so when speaking of a felon looking for a chance to live again in society and prove he or she has changed.
It is about time that we here in Montana weeded out the racists from the Board of Pardons and Parole, the judicial system, and our local police departments. They exist, they hold these positions, and it affects the lives of real people every day. Do you want your tax dollars supporting racially motivated oppression in your home state? Maybe it is time we admitted we haven’t moved past that, and we worked to ensure equality for our fellow citizens.