A Crisis of Color

Racism. It’s quite a loaded word isn’t it? Many people view racism as a relic of a far-gone era of intolerance. One would think that the white, Christian majority in our nation would have abandoned its fear of those different from them. Unfortunately, the demons of racial ignorance and intolerance survive in our nation today. While people of every color are guilty of racial ignorance and fear, some members of the white majority still seem to be the most afraid of any challenge to their economic and political stranglehold. Through and through, my ancestry is white, Christian, and mostly affluent. Few things eat at me more than seeing my Southern peers fearing the dwindling dominance of white people. Many of my friends back home in North Carolina speak bitterly of policies like affirmative action, claiming that minorities are “taking their spots” in college admissions (and don’t pretend there isn’t a sizable contingent of like-minded students at Andover.) These friends and students didn’t arrive at these conclusions on their own. Our generation’s picture of race relations is very much the same as our parents’, but the once bold colors of racism are now of a more pastel hue. Last weekend I watched the movie American History X, a story that delves into the dark underground of a modern white-supremacist movement. Derek, the main character, is pushed vigorously down the path of racial ignorance by his own father, who convinced Derek that his English teacher was secretly trying to advance some kind of black-power agenda. Sickeningly, Derek’s father seemed to think he was being a good, loving father when he told his son to look out for more of “this nigger bullshit”. What’s worse is that truth is stranger than fiction; I’ve had more friends than I’m comfortable admitting ask me questions along the lines of “What do you mean you and your dad don’t sit around and tell racist jokes?” The struggle for civil rights was the great war of race relations in the United States. Now we have entered a racial Cold War. A vocal minority of white people in our nation still subtlety embrace the ignorance of old; many of them put themselves so firmly at odds with policies like affirmative action in order to combat a perceived racial foe that simply doesn’t exist. At home, my own beliefs put me at odds with many people of my own race. This awkward middle ground can be a little shaky at times; one of the reasons I left home was because I was fed up with racism at my old school. However, I have realized that this problem of racism is not solely prevalent in my home state of North Carolina, but is a sad reality manifested throughout our nation.