International Anti-Racism day on March 21, established by the UN, should be a mandatory observance in America. Better yet, the US should start its own National Anti-Racism day. We could use it to mark a day when no racism of any form is tolerated in America. It would be like a moment of silence only lasting for a full day. Imagine, we outlaw racism and prevent any form of it from being practiced on just one day. But, first, we’d have to talk about racism and acknowledge that it still exists in America.
There are many persons who still believe that with the election of President Obama, racism ended. They think that his election turned us into a post racial society. How silly of a notion to think that one event would eliminate hundreds of years of institutionalized racism in America. Nothing is farther from the truth. If anything, the election of President Obama has proven to me that we are still a country that is full of racism. His election was not about race but about change. And his election and campaign for the presidency brought out a long suppressed racial rage among some, starting with those phone comments made by former President Bill Clinton during the campaign. Remember when Bill Clinton turned inward to his true feelings and said in a conversation to Senator Ted Kennedy about Obama that “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” Although, Bill Clinton has apologized, it doesn’t take away the racist sting of the statement for blacks or the racial feelings behind it.
The Birthers and now Donald Trump picked up the racial banner left by Bill Clinton by saying they don’t believe President Obama was born in this country. Simply put, all the Birthers are saying is that it’s impossible to believe that an African American could have “legally” won the election to the White House. Apparently, the votes didn’t lie so Obama must have cheated in some other way. That way must be his alleged illegal citizenship. Some say he was born in Kenya and others say it was Indonesia. The government of Hawaii has provided proof of President Obama’s birth place in the US. But, instead of dying, the birther argument is growing in steam and popularity with no further proof of life for its existence.
Then let’s not forget the Tea Party. There are many persons who do not believe the Tea Party has a racist bone in its words. Well, when the Tea Party decries they want to take their country back, to whom do you think they are referring? And in wanting to turn the clock back to the way things were, that takes blacks back to a simpler time when blacks had few or no rights. And as we have become a more intolerant country against acceptance of other non-Christian based religions and particularly Muslims, the labeling of President Obama as a Muslim, is yet, another way of spewing hatred.
The United Nations proclaimed March 21 to be International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to increase efforts to eliminate all forms of racial intolerance and discrimination. It marks the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa, when South African police opened fire on thousands of unarmed anti-apartheid demonstrators, killing 69 and injuring 180 persons, over 50 years ago. In the US, we should mark the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the day on March 7, 1965 when Alabama police brutally beat over 600 peaceful civil rights marchers, including now Congressman John Lewis. And we could continue to mark the anniversary of that day as National Anti-Racism day until we truly become a post racial society.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a lawyer and political and legal commentator. She is frequently seen in the media. She also writes for the Huffington Post. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.