Call me naïve, unrealistic or simply crazy; but I believe race relations in America have improved tremendously over the years. I also believe that the younger generation (those currently in high school) will be the group that has the best potential of closing the discrimination gap considerably, if not eradicating it totally.
What I don’t believe however, is what respondents of a poll released last month claim. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, a large portion of whites feel that discrimination against them today is as big a problem as discrimination against Blacks and other minorities.
A white female blogger from New York best surmised what I was thinking when she responded to the poll findings: “Until whites are subjected to a generation of slavery, they have no basis to compare their supposed ‘discrimination’ to what has been suffered by Blacks.”
Make no mistake, I’m not saying that whites aren’t discriminated against, because I’m certain they are to some degree or another, however, to compare any discriminatory acts they experience to the ill-treatment Blacks and other minorities received is unfair.
Perhaps the mindset of the poll respondents sheds light on the data.
All the respondents were white, 62 percent identified themselves as tea party members, 56 percent were Republicans and 53 percent were white independents. With merit, the study noted that the vast majority of respondents who felt discrimination against them is equal to discrimination of minorities were indeed conservatives.
What’s interesting about that revelation is the conservatives polled obviously exhibited a victimization complex, despite the group’s political philosophy of personal responsibility.
It begs me to ask the question: Where’s the proof of these discriminatory claims?
In regards to Blacks and other minorities, the proof is quite known.
For Blacks, there’s the overt racism and discrimination exhibited pre-civil rights era. There also are the countless discriminatory acts that have taken place in my own lifetime, such as the vicious brutalization and sodomy of Abner Louima, the Haitian-born man who was assaulted in 1997 by New York City police officers.
For Native Americans, there’s the harsh manner in which the land their ancestors cared for was taken from them.
For Hispanics, there’s the recent immigration law that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer implemented, giving police officers the right to randomly search “illegal immigrants” and demand proof of citizenship.
Where is the proof that whites in this country have experienced the same, or even remotely similar instances of discrimination?
While I certainly believe in freedom of speech and one’s right to express his or her opinion, such views hold far more merit if there is evidence to support the claims.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on whom you ask; claims from the Public Religion Research Institute can’t be substantiated.
We all (or most of us, anyway) want a world bereft of prejudice and discrimination. If it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, I’m confident that a positive change will one day come.
You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.