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Keep Talking About Race

I cannot thank Post Metro columnist Petula Dvorak enough for her piece today, "Too Often, We're Mute On Race." She underscores what I said during the Crowley-Gates-Obama drama of July: We have to talk about race. And then she makes a courageous confession about how she handles it with her five-year-old son. "I'm guilty of silence on the subject," Dvorak wrote, "despite living in a majority-black city."

Dvorak quotes Rebecca Bigler, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who said, "White parents, unlike parents of color, do not talk about race." That's when the memory of one of the most painful conversations I've had with my mother came roaring back. I was about 12 or 13. We lived in predominately white Hazlet, N.J., and my next door neighbor, Skip, was my best friend. We led a merry band of mostly white hide-and-go-seek/Risk/tennis-playing nerds. One day, my mother sat me down. I don't recall what prompted this unscheduled reality check, but I'll never forget what she said.

"Right now, you and Skip are here," she said, illustrating parity with her hands. "But as you get older, you won't be equal." Her hands now visually unequal, she continued, "He'll have advantages that you won't because he's white." Well, this was just unacceptable to my young mind, and I let loose one of those adolescent tirades that would have been hilarious were it not heartbreaking.

With tears streaming down my face, I repeatedly said, "No! That's not true!" And I demanded, "How can you say that?" I thought my mother was being cruel and a prisoner of the past. Of course, I knew well our nation's painful history of slavery, the injustice of Jim Crow and the ongoing struggle for equality. My childhood summers in North Carolina and the oft-repeated stories about my mother and her siblings in the cotton fields when they were my age ensured I'd never forget. But nothing she said jibed with my post-Civil Rights reality.

Conversations such as these would crop up throughout my adolescence. When my mother remarried and we moved back to Newark, my then-step father issued a series of warnings. There was a general one against running on the city's streets, but he was adamant that I not run while carrying anything in my hands, lest the police think I stole something or was carrying a weapon. Variations of those warnings are delivered on a daily basis to black children across America, especially the boys.

And, yet, knowing all this, I never let go of the idea that it didn't have to be that way. Martin Luther King often said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." But the bend doesn't happen on its own. It requires us to step beyond ourselves to understand a different perspective. To understand how a shout of "You lie!" by a southern white congressman to a black president would strike many African Americans as an unconscionable affront. Or to understand that the fears of government intervention and rampant deficits are real concerns that aren't necessarily a cover for latent racism. (Although, I wish a national Republican would show some leadership and pull his Grand Old Party away from the extreme voices that make it increasingly difficult to think that bigotry doesn’t undergird their anger.)

My belief that I have a part in bending the arc has allowed me to be intimately aware of the role race plays in America without it becoming a pair of dream-deadening lead shoes. And it is that belief that fuels my desire for us to keep talking about race. We can never hope to cure what ails our nation if we're unwilling to acknowledge more forthrightly and more consistently that we have a problem.

By Jonathan Capehart  | September 15, 2009; 2:58 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Joe Wilson Proves He Deserves His Reprimand


Jonathan- I really love this article. I am pleased to say I am not an African American and was still outraged by Joe Wilson's outburst- and more outraged by his "milking it" with his cohorts in the following days. This cracker is NAUSEATING! But I shouldn't call him that just because I am an educated Northerner - that just keeps the whole dirty mess going. But do I think he (and many others both in and out of Congress) are racist? Yes I do. I have seen nad heard with my own eyes and ears how white people will wait until their black "friend" walks away to say something disgusting about black people in general. My mother always demonstrated how to behave by explaining -"how would you feel if you knew they would be talking about Jews the minute you walked out of the room? And then took it the next logical step which is not to embrace such feelings at all. Then you have nothing awful to talk about and you can focus on other, better, more important things. Like how to educate all our children, like how to get health insurance reform that works. Mr Obama is not perfect, he is certainly to the right of where I am idealogically, but from that bitter cold day in January on the mall, all I can think whenever he opens his mouth is "I LOVE my President". I can't help it.

Posted by: u028021 | September 15, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

yes this is the "talk" that black families must have with their sons, and should be given to their daughters as well.
as long as there is a visible difference that can be readily seen, there will be racism toward people of color.
sometimes i really don't think it's a conscious is so ingrained in our culture.
talking might help, but people are so sensitive about race, one group cannot bear to be called racist, or feelings of guilt. the other segment don't want to be thought of to be living in the past and blaming others for their fate.
we can talk about the most personal aspects of our lives, but race is usually taboo. maybe one day it will
incidentally, how is your friend skip?

Posted by: ninnafaye | September 15, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

During the election, I was inclined to think of Pres Obama as a good-intentioned, misguided, liberal politician with great public speaking skills.

Since then, I have become convinced that he is a marxist tyrant who has absolutely no regard for the constitution and who will lie on demand to get his way.

Now you insist that I think of him as black and that this is a racial divide.

Very well, he is a BLACK, lying marxist who wants to destroy the constitutional government of our country.

Posted by: junkman1989 | September 15, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe in the intrinsic hierarchy of the races, but that is not the point. As Colby King pointed out in his column last Saturday, the powers that be routinely accept dysfunctional behavior in black neighborhoods that would be totally unacceptable in more civilized white sections of the city: robberies, gunfights, shootings, and crime. The cab drivers who routinely refuse to accept black passengers are generally not white racists, the cab drivers are usually men of color themselves who fear for their safety when traveling in black neighborhoods. And one look at the mortality statistics comparing cab drivers and policemen will explain why.

Instead of complaining about racial prejudice, why don’t we do something useful like finding ways of ending children having illegitimate children in ghetto neighborhoods. These male children see few options other than crime and the females choose to go on welfare and have children to perpetuate the cycle. Let’s end this dysfunctional cycle, if it means garnishing wages of the male fathers or placing the children in orphanages, anything, just end the cycle. Otherwise as long as the black community is associated with ignorance and crime then we will continue to despair over our racial problems. As it stands now, the black children of teenagers have little or no chance. I wonder how many people, black and white, are afraid to speak out because deep inside they reluctantly believe in the hierarchy of races.

Posted by: BabeintheWoods | September 15, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

The appropriately named 'junkman1989' writes a typically uninformed, fact-free, regurgitation of right wing talking points against Obama.

I have a couple of questions:

1. Do you even know what Marxist means? Please define in what ways Obama has demonstrated that he is Marxist?

2. Do you know what a tyrant is? Please spell out in what ways Obama has behaved like a tyrant?

3. Do you know what the US constitution says? I can name a dozen ways in which the Bush administration trampled on the constitution. In what ways has Obama demonstrated a disregard for the constitution?

Sheesh .... do these people have any intelligence or ability to think for themselves?

Posted by: sambam | September 15, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

In the 60's we fought for civil rights for all -- remember the south never, never came around. Sad.

Posted by: nellie3ster | September 15, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I have a couple of questions:

1. Do you even know what Marxist means? Please define in what ways Obama has demonstrated that he is Marxist?

2. Do you know what a tyrant is? Please spell out in what ways Obama has behaved like a tyrant?

3. Do you know what the US constitution says? I can name a dozen ways in which the Bush administration trampled on the constitution. In what ways has Obama demonstrated a disregard for the constitution?

Sheesh .... do these people have any intelligence or ability to think for themselves?

Posted by: sambam
A Marksist is someone that believes in income redistribution , individuals should produce based on their ability and recieve according to their needs, a utopian outlook. Obama is on record supporting income redistribution.

A tyrant is a ruler that abuses power. Something like making people that invested their retirement in GM bonds take less than they were legally entitled to and give that asset to a union that coincidently supports him. Or perhaps uses his power to force a bank to purchase another that they didn't want. A guy with that kind of gall could even take over a giant private corporation and fire the management, hard to imagine.

As far as the constitution, it says all powers not specifically given to the federal govt. belong to the state's or the people. This means you would have to prove the constitution gives him the power, in the absence of that proof the constitution says he does not have it(tenth Amendment).

As far as Bush, get a new excuse,He's gone.

Please cite the dozens of constitutional violation's by Bush.

Posted by: saw1 | September 15, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

This is interesting - another tea-bagger who's trying to maintain that Obama is a "marxist tyrant who has no regard for the constitution" :-)

1. If a Marxist is "someone that believes in income redistribution", then Adam Smith, most US Presidents, and most western economies are Marxist because they believe in progressive taxation. I highly recommend Economics 101, Mr.Tea-Bagger.

2. If Obama is a tyrant because he forced "people that invested their retirement in GM bonds to take less than they were legally entitled", then you need to think about how said share and bondholders would have fared in a sudden bankruptcy, which was the only other alternative when the government stepped in. Incidentally the titans of capitalist finance that you people so admire proceeded to do the exact same thing when the banks started to implode last year. No doubt all of these ex-Goldman Sacs executives at the Fed and Treasury are closet communists too :-)

3. As for the constitution, here's another right wing crackpot theory "all powers not specifically given to the federal govt. belong to the state's or the people". As numerous people have pointed out, a literal reading of this would mean no highway system, no education department, no FDA, no Medicare or Social Security, the list goes on. And it also means that by that definition no President in the last 60 years has had any regard for the constitution. And no Supreme court has backed that radical a reading of the constitution either. Find yourself a constitutional lawyer (like President Obama) to explain it to you!

Once again, do you guys even think before you utter phrases that Lord Limbaugh trained you to spit out?

I'll address the Bush administrations trampling of civil rights and the constitution in a separate response, but if you're truly unaware of them I highly recommend you get yourself some critical thinking skills and stop watching Fox News. It will corrode what's left of your mind :-)

Posted by: sambam | September 15, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Stop with the Race card it only fosters old hates,
Please listen before you alter fates. Do not let one’s false pride,
Cause this great nation to divide. Look at what is happening in such a short time, What this is undoing is really the crime. All across America people are upset, Now I ask you All what good will all this get? A learning lessons already taught, So many people’s mending has been for naught.
A man has risen to lead us all, Do not be a part of America’s fall.
This is the year of our lord, two thousand and nine, So please do what you know to be divine. One planet, one race, as one beating heart, The world may end some day, please do not be the start. We lead the world with freedom first, Do not let racism quench it’s undying thirst. To not enslave us all at last,
Lets look forward away from our troubled past.
The mistakes we make and continue to do, Could spell the end of more then me and you. By bringing down our great nation, All of this for the sake of sensation. I ask you not to let our enemies see, Such things may still live in the land of the free.
I love the different colors of man, We were created according to plan. So different and the same, All of us with our own name. Man and woman combine, To create new life is so divine. Able to mix and mingle, No one has to be single. Banding together to survive, I for one am happy to be alive. If we all looked alike it would not be nice, I’m so glad to be the only Sonny Rice.

Posted by: SonnyRice | September 15, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

SonnyRice: "Stop with the Race card it only fosters old hates"

I agree, in fact, it is apparent that it is being used as argument rather than fact. It would be as if I told you "I heard from God and He told me...". It is lazy and results in emotion over reason.

Posted by: 2009frank | September 15, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Call me crazy, but I think it's just as good an assumption that Joe Wilson's remark was driven by CLASS than it was by race. No matter where you think he was coming from, he made the remark in response to the notion that the plan would cover illegal immigrants, a charge that is in line with any conventional right-wing attack on a left-wing policy, no matter the color of the person pushing it--that it will help people on welfare, that it will reward the lazy, that it will give amnesty to law-breakers (illegal immigrants). Sure, such attacks often have a racial element, but I've heard enough immigrants and members of minorities ranting about similar concerns to know that you don't have to be white to have them. This whole racial discussion is a convenient way to ignore other, real ways Obama has been angering people: bailouts for the auto industry, blanket support for Wall Street, using the economic crisis to pass a stimulus bill that was more about his liberal agenda than mitigating the recession. I share his liberal agenda, and these things still anger me. This is the real backdrop to the "you lie" outburst. To say its necessarily about race is just liberal condescension.
I don't doubt that Joe Wilson probably has racist sentiments, as many southerners do. It's just plainly clear that there's a lot more going on, and a lot more that's pertinent to the national discussion, than just race here.

Posted by: neel1 | September 15, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

A psychology professor declares that white parents do not talk about race, and you repeat the statement without criticism.

I think you've got it wrong. Lots of white parents, including me, talk about all sorts of race issues with their children. You can't talk about American history, domestic and international politics, sports, how teenagers should conduct themselves in encounters with the police, etc. without talking about race.

Posted by: coastofutopia | September 15, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I am or Puerto Rican descent. I was born in New York City. My parents came here in 1937 and '39. I grew up with similar lectures and exercises on how to avoid revealing anything when asked "where are you from?"
In my own community, as in so many others, the issue raises it's head. Here is a link to the conversation going on in my local "on line" newspaper in my community.
Thank you for sharing your story.

Posted by: ortiz1 | September 15, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

What confuses me (a white woman) is just how, in the inflamed atmosphere of today, is a person who disagrees with the president (civilly, not shouting or calling names) permitted to do that without being called a racist?

I don't care for many of the president's policies or actions. I would not have agreed with a white president who followed this path, but I could do that without being called names.

I agree that we need to have discussions about race. We ALL need to have discussions, not just the white people who disagree with the president.

I think columns such as this are thought provoking, but they don't really help unless we just all throw in the towel and get on the Obama Express. But, that is not an acceptable path for some of us for practical reasons, not racial ones. Honest.

Posted by: annetta3 | September 16, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Hi Capehart,
I remember my mother told me not to associate with white girls (circ 1960). I at 14 asked her why. She said they are lynching us for even looking at them. One day a female classmate(white) called, my mother answered the phone she screamed my name I had no idea she was that adamant. She had two uncles lynched in the 30's and never got over it. Living in Baltimore I felt things were different. I was young and naive and later it would almost cost me my life at the hands of a white co-worker from Mississippi.

We in America who think and feel that we are a melting pot are just as naive. It's like a mixed marriage. We don't talk to each other because one side historically believes what can possibly be learned from the other. The other side knows the reality of the morbid abusive relationship.
The abuser does not believe that marital consule is necessary. So the history of racial hatred in the US is perpetuated from generation to generation in the job place in government,in social status, in penal institutions, and etc.,etc..

I feel it is refreshing to find racial diverse couples who can live in harmony and raise families. I remember hearing Southerners in government as defense for segregation that race mixing would harm children. Never mind the race mixing that took place over the past couple hundred years. When Barack Sr and his bride married almost 50 years ago, there were states er.. still states that have laws on the books preventing it in the south. Look at the make up of the Senate but more sadly the House of Representatives. Why did the Sonia Sotomayor comment infuriate the white men and women in the Republican Party. School desegregation was opposed by men without the ethnic gifts she brings. In 1968 after the murder of DR.King we tried to have a dialogue on race to prevent more fires from igniting. But lip service was given.There are folk who say race doesn't matter. Many on the side of that arguement(white and black) are trying sweep it under the social rug. Why are AFrican-Americans more likely to be stopped while walking or driving in areas under patrol. Unemployed 2 to 3 times in highly populated areas. When AA men are beated or murdered the populus doesn't raise an eyebrow. But the same folk become irate at the Rev.Al Sharptons and the Rev. Jesse Jacksons of the world, why? Well those of us who feel they do a social service awaking the neigbors' conscience.

Maybe if the whites of this country had used dialogue instead of lyching and burning their innocent black neighbors maybe today's dialogue would not be a lump in the rug.

Posted by: wvgoody | September 16, 2009 2:20 AM | Report abuse

You and much of media are giving the racsit "which are a smaller percent" the vast majority of air time. They have won. What about the facts of health care and other important issues. They will all be dead one day so we should concentrate on future.

Posted by: jfs2632 | September 16, 2009 7:02 AM | Report abuse

annetta3, I think Barack Obama would be the first person to say that your civil disagreement is welcome and not a sign of racism. If you have civil disagreements, you aren't who people are talking about. By trying to play the victim yourself, all you do is give cover to people who, frankly, are racists.

As a white fortysomething who lived the first half of his life in the South, I have a hard time not seeing racism in the absolutely outrageous conduct of some of the militant opponents of Obama. I've tried to give the benefit of the doubt, but, to my mind, the breaking point came with the ridiculously vehement attacks on Obama for delivering stay-in-school and work-hard messages to schoolchildren, as white presidents of both parties have done. Your civil criticism of the president on substance does not lead me to think you are a racist. But an unprecedentedly disrespectful interruption of a joint address to Congress does--especially when the interruptor has a history of associating with Confederate idiocy and making racially charged public statements. I actually believe there's plenty of room for ordinary folk to criticize the president in harsh terms without being thought of as racists. But the intensity of some of it has finally led me to conclude that some of it is race-based animosity and disrespect.

And here's one thing that you (and the GOP) could do to help yourselves: When you see a critic of the president go off the deep end, level criticism that is oddly intense (as with the school speech), treat the president with unprecedented disrespect (like Joe Wilson), YOU SHOULD STAND UP AND CRITICIZE THEM YOURSELF! They risk making all critics look bad or racist.

Posted by: uh_huhh | September 16, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Ain't life grand, when we are all classified as racists for thinking liberal policies from a liberal president are bad. I came up with a new song for the occasian.

"I'm a racist, you're a racist, wouldn't you like to be a racist too! Be a racist, Drink the racist kool-aid", then repeat, Sung to the tune of the Dr Pepper commercials.

Are black people that did not like Bush and his policies racist?

Posted by: thelaw1 | September 16, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

What a fascinating article and equally fascinating comments...most of which are quite well thought out, regardless of point of view. As a 78-year old white woman who was raised in New York and who has lived in southern states, I was never confronted with radical racism until I did indeed follow my husband to Oklahoma and later to Texas in a differenet era. My parents had colored help whom they treated with respect and affection -- and my sister and I were taught by example. The only person my mother ever fired was a white person she had hired to take with us to the beach for one summer. That person was rude and arrogant and mean to my mother's children. The sixties were so traumatic at so many levels and really opened my eyes to not only white v. black but black v. white hatred abounding. When my 8-year old daughter was attacked at the school bus stop by five young black girls with whom she shared nothing -- school, geography, living -- her only crying out was, "Mommy, why did they do that?" I brought them up on the white egg and brown egg theory that inside we were all alike. Anyway, the vitriol, the blatant hatred (sic the march on Washington by the True Haters) takes me back to the sixties and in the same apprehensive way. Guns in churches, bars, at 'Town Meetings'; doctors being slaughtered for having a different opinion than the haters; women being beaten and disrespected; hating politicians who bloviate and spread vicious untruths being elevated. It is all horribly familiar, and horribly frightening. This is NOT the America that nurtured my soul as a young person in an imperfect world.

Posted by: LTM6463 | September 16, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Agree. Yes. Race must be talked about.

Racism Pure and Simple #barakobama #racism #whitebacklash #sonnet!s-what-you-mean

O Barak, my president, I respect and revere you.
You’re no secret Muslim, terrorist or socialist.
Though others accuse you of being a Nazi true,
It’s clear you’re no authoritarian despot or fascist.

They lie and hate who call you Kenyan or crook
But they really exaggerate beyond the reason
When saying racist and reverse, quoting racist book
Written in poison when slavery was in season.

All the accusations and attacks are thinly veiled
Covers for the ‘N’ word. That’s the ruthless truth.
Schools blocking speech your dignity assailed
Silent Republicans, along with screamers, all uncouth.

The sum total of vile labels and insults:
Irrational spouting by bigoted adults.

Posted by: aureliom | September 16, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

What would Ted Kennedy Say?

Would he be proud?

What would MArtin L. King Say?

Would he be proud.

What would GAndi say?

Would he be proud?

What would Nelson Mandela say?

Would he be proud?

What would the Jews who died in the Holocaust say?

Would they be proud?

What would an American Indian who was diven from their home say?

Would they be proud?

Grow up! The United States has a shameful past and the future does not look any better!!!

Posted by: aggiephysics | September 16, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

You've articulated a picture of reality that all of us need to consider, Mr. Capehart. You have joined Cobert King, Maureen Dawd, former President Jimmy Carter, and a few others who are courageous enough to address a dangerous issue which permeates throughout America. u028021's(9-15 at 4:04 PM) comments are worthy of an op-ed in the Washington Post.

Posted by: BooJa | September 16, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Elegantly done.

I thought that the Henry Louis Gates episode was a misunderstanding - a cop doing his job; a professor insulted by being asked to provide I.D. in his own house. I still think so.

That said, the signs flashing on the TV screen at the tea party in D.C. were shocking - a time capsule back to Jim Crow. There weren't just a "few."

Their proud owners didn't realize they were debasing themselves - but thought they were insulting the dignified man we are lucky to have as president, and his race. Anyone present should have demanded the "protesters" who created the obscenities not only take them down, but leave. Obviously, nobody did.

I'm white. I disagree with parts of the health care plan. Everyone has a right to argue strongly about what will affect their personal lives, their kids, their wallets, and an exploding deficit. But I immediately read Joe Wilson's outburst as disrespect based upon the president's race. He felt entitled to insult.

Society, and most especially the Republican party, has a moral obligation to denounce the accumulated ugliness and those signs in the strongest possible terms.

Posted by: SueR1 | September 16, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Brilliant and well written. Keep this discussion going. I live in the northeast and I hear racist comments toward the President all too often. So when I hear Morning Joe say, as he did this morning during your segment, he barely ever hears anyone making racist comments, I wholeheartedly do not believe him. Jonathan, keep up the good work.

Posted by: crossi92 | September 16, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

In response to aggiephysics,

You sound unhappy, I suggest you look around the world for your utopian home. Try and express your opinion in some Marist country.What about Iran. Their government opened to critiscism.

Posted by: rmasterson34 | September 16, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I find the ironies in this piece delicious.

The author describes his faith in human nature being destroyed, not by any racial encounters at age 10-12 while living in supposedly racist North Carolina, but by his black mother inculcating him with her fears and prejudices against.....white people.

This is further reinforced by similar indoctrination by his black stepfather warning him about racist cops in the supposedly racially tolerant, liberal, Northeastern New Jersey.

No where does he recount his own experiences, first hand, that makes him hear Joe Wilson add, "BOY!", to the end of, "YOU LIE!." (See the leader of liberal thought M. Dowd for reference.)

Unfortunately, I no longer agree with the theme of his article, "Let's keep talking about race." The black leadership, liberal community, and press, have now decided to launch the race card on anyone that dares to question the efforts they are making to; (add whatever conservative positions you wish here, I agree with most all of them.)

For me, I no longer wish to discuss it with them. They are now shown to be the enemy of myself, my country, and my children and grand children's future. They have demonstrated they will wage war with no bounds, and give no quarter.

Nor will I. The risk, and the price, is just to great.

Posted by: Rjames2 | September 16, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The left are pulling out the race card? It means they lost and they are desperate.

As Gerald Warner brilliantly put it in London Telegraph:

"If a black mugger tries to steal a citizen’s wallet in a Washington street, is it “racist” to resist? Then why is it racist to protest when a socialist president, who happens to be black, robs the taxpayers of $0.75 trillion?"

No matter. Let Left have their race "conversation" (more like insane screams) as long as they don't mess with the economy and foreign politics. We are getting there.

Posted by: pihto999 | September 16, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

A censured Joe Wilson denies
Minorities he must despise;
He's simply astonished
At being admonished
For some of his best friends tell lies.

News Short n' Sweet by JFD8

Posted by: jd121 | September 16, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, racism against blacks does exist. But not because of the color of their skin but by their ongoing poor performance in society. Domestic violence, street violence, drugs, unwed pregnancies, dropouts, you name it. Blacks tend to frame things as whites disliking "people of color" . But other people of color, indians, asians, hispanics etc. also share this frustration with blacks. As someone else pointed out here, cab drivers (who are generally not white) do not want to pick up black passengers, waiters dont like to serve black customers. Yes, the general population is racist against blacks. But is blacks who need to remedy that proving that theyr'e actually better than their stereotype.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 16, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

one problem with talking about race is that liberals cannot handle moderates and conservatives take on the issue, and blow hards like jesse jackson and al sharpton take faux-umbrage.

Posted by: dummypants | September 16, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"He'll have advantages that you won't because he's white."

funny, i wonder how skip was benefited by affirmative action. i would trade getting pulled over by a cop on false pretenses once of twice for getting into that law school I was wait-listed at--IN A HOT SCECOND. if i had been black would i have gotten? most likely yes, and to say otherwise is to deny what affirmative action is and does.

Posted by: dummypants | September 16, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

his article made no sense, capeheart talks about when his mom talked to him about race, and made no mention about any impact it had--other than to say it made him cry.

this entire article is a series of non-sequiturs, and doesnt even illustrate the author's thesis.

Posted by: dummypants | September 16, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

i think we've reached justice in this country, so what's left to talk about?

Posted by: dummypants | September 16, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

williamporterfield, I'm not sure where and how you developed the notion that blacks are the ones who primarily suffer with the problem of "[d]omestic violence, street violence, drugs, unwed pregnancies, dropouts, you name it." (We get a small notion of where your head is at with the reference to "unwed pregnancies". Yeesh.)

For instance, the drop-out rate stats show folks of hispanic origins had a drop-out rate of 21% plus in 2007, as compared to blacks at 8.4%. The drop-out rate in general in this country is fracking appalling, regardless of racial background.

"But other people of color, indians, asians, hispanics etc. also share this frustration with blacks."

Uh-huh. The *only* race everyone can agree on to be inferior are blacks. So would you share a little about your background and circumstances so that we can get an idea of how you might have developed this enlightened ideas? Something about your upbringing and parents? I have a feeling you don't have personal relationships with a huge cross-section of American society from various walks of life.

"As someone else pointed out here, cab drivers (who are generally not white) do not want to pick up black passengers, waiters dont like to serve black customers."

Really (or, as the kids would say these day, "for reals")? And why do you think that is? Is it about actual personal experience or knowledge or is it based on some retarded ideas people manage to cultivate?

"But is blacks who need to remedy that proving that theyr'e actually better than their stereotype."

Wow. And, assuming you're of caucasian descent, how do you suggest we caucasian folks deal with how *you* bring us down/sully us -- how do we "fix" you? You can fix ignorant, but you can't fix stupid, so which are you?

Posted by: Fallen1 | September 16, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"President Obama doesn't believe that racism is much of a factor in the wave of opposition to his policies evident at rallies and other protests around the country this summer."

So either Jimmy Carter and the rest of the folks whining "Racism" are horses patoots or your Messiah is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Posted by: AnAmericanFirst | September 16, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"So either Jimmy Carter and the rest of the folks whining "Racism" are horses patoots or your Messiah is wrong, wrong, wrong."

He's not wrong-wrong-wrong, he's lying, you dolt (it's called trying to be nice/being PC). Do you *really* think the President can say "Yeah, I know we have a 30% effwit contingent in this country and it's truly challenging to lead them, but whaddya gonna do -- have death panels for the lunatics?"

Posted by: Fallen1 | September 16, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

A Congressman yells "you lie" at the wrong time,(Aggree or not it doesn't matter)then One X president makes a stupid comment, (which he should have kept to himself) based on his opinion, not fact and look how much came out of it. Look how twisted this comment made of things. It just seems to me that if you don't have any thing to work with you fall back on the race card. It reminds me of grade school kids calling each other names. Its pointless and gets everyone no where.
People who Judge each other on skin color are not worth the effort,(These idiots will never change) they will be there no matter what you or I do or say.
There are also the people that think everything that doesn't go the way they wanted was based on race,(these idiots will never change) they will always be there no matter what you or I say or do.
Get over it people! And would someone give Mr Carter his altimers meds

Posted by: rainman2 | September 16, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Fallen1 -
As you ask, a little on my background, born and raised in NYC. Where over 80% of violent crime is commited by blacks. Marine Corps vet and graduated college w/honors. I worked summers doing repairs in tenement buildings where blacks on public assistance had 50"+ tv screens while their multiple children live in squalor. Foreign born hispanics have a higher drop out rate, but among native US born, the drop out rate is far higher among blacks than among any other ethnic group.
I'll ask you why all other cultures disdain blacks. You suggest it's because of "retarded ideas" people cultivate. Really? All these people from different cultures come to the same "retarded" conclusion. I find it more likely to believe it has to do with the high rate of black violence, squalor, etc. I mention above. You bring yourselves down And with every failure you pull the race card. Of course, you have the option of living in the black-dominated continent of Africa where there whitey isnt there to bring you down. How's it working out over there?

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 16, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The matter is of color. Mr. Obama believes in red. Americans believe in red, white, and blue.

We agree investigation of A CON and its founder is long overdue.

Posted by: tucanofulano | September 16, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Fallen1 -
Additionally, you're quite wrong about me having relationships with a cross-section of this country. I speak two languages. My family is of mixed religions and adopted eastern european and mexicans.
My neighbor hood is 60%caucasion, 30% asian, and the rest is a sprinkle of east indian.
And i dont need to resort to personal insults, as you have(ie. "are u ignorant or stupid"), to make a political point.
I also didnt get 15 points added to entrance exams in a desperate attempt to make my race appear equal.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 16, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

You write the same crap on every post about race relations. You are a racist and an ignorant one at that.

Now, I don't need to use personal insults to make my point. Anyone reading your posts can see what you are; but sometimes a personal insult is what's called for. Clearly this is one of those times.

Ironically, you remind me of the man who went on a shooting rampage in the Gym. (I'm sure you saw the news reports). This guy was mad at the world and especially mad at white women going out with black men. It seems both of you feel the need to put down blacks in an attempt to make yourself feel better. Obviously, it didn't work for him and judging by your silly little posts; it's not working for you either.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | September 16, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

wmwilliams - Remember that Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro were called racists when they dared criticize Obama. It's commonplace for anyone who criticize a black to be called racist.
But,yes, i am a racist. But not an ignorant one. i dont make up the statistics that show the ongoing failures of blacks in our society. I didnt make up a 80% violent crime rate from the 30% of blacks in NYC. Your only response is to insult me. Liberals love to talk about having a dialogue about race, but they only want it oneway. Never are blacks held responsible for the worlds view of them.

Based on a judgement on blacks, which i've back up w/info that's of public record, u think u know so much about me. Wow, who's being prejudicial?

I'm not at all mad at the world. I'm not mad at blacks. White women can go out with them all they want. But i do hold them responsible for their own reputation. And i am a bit offended when blacks talk about whites not liking "people of color". It's a bit the other way around. All people of color have become frustrated with blacks. Virtually every other ethnic group has succeeded here except - guess who?

Insulting me doesnt change the situation. I would love to be convinced otherwise. I would love to see harmony. Indeed I had a far more liberal view back in my teens and early 20s. But your's or anyone else's replies to my opinion with personal insults doesnt change anything but make a thug out of you. Since you cant, or choose not to show me how im wrong, i dont think im the ignorant one.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 16, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and wmwilliams -
You say you dont need to make personal insults to make ur point. But you didnt make any point in your comment, none at all, beyond insulting me.

If u have something constructive to say, please do so. But if your just going to rambling anger, well, i can listen to Al Sharpton for that.

Posted by: williamporterfield | September 16, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

For me the race question has always been weird. Maybe because I grew up in a household where my father, who worked for the UN, always had friends over for dinner who were from every race and country. Race was never an issue in my house. But it invaded my youthful consciousness when I was 7-8 and my best friend was an African-American girlfriend (and I'm Italo-American). We hung out an enjoyed each other's company until once, when I was at her house in what was then called the "projects" in my hometown - high-rise low cost housing for mostly African-Americans - her mother said it was perhaps better that I didn't visit anymore. Obviously this was peer pressure at work. .And she actively disuaded her daughter from frequenting me. This was in the early 1950's and I can now imagine her worries, but as for me, at the time, I was crushed. She was my best friend.

Race has always worked both ways in the US, separating people who would otherwise perhaps be friends and surmount the issue. It's a sad pronouncement on our national sin.

Posted by: ncm1 | September 16, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Crying "racism!" is simply a way to avoid the argument.

I appose the growth of the government because it is a danger to our freedom. I appose any person who is in favor of a larger government regardless of race.

I believe that it is morally wrong to use the coercive power of government to take away the fruit of someone’s labor in order to give it to another.

How does this have anything to do with the race of the statist I am fighting against?

Posted by: armykungfu | September 16, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who goes "down town" and who isn't concientiously suspicious, and aware of the people there hanging out is a fool, then a victim. In fact anybody who isn't suspicious of anybody just hanging out anywhere is a fool, then a victim.

Posted by: rpatoh | September 16, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that Republicans see the need to make rock stars our of criminals and miscreants?

They are adored on Faux News, drooled over on AM Radio, given platforms to expouse their disregard for the law and Constitution.

From G. Gordon Liddy, to Ollie North, to Karl Rove and Joe Wilson.

It seems to me that the party of personal responsibility celebrates the lack of personal responsibility.

Posted by: thecontributist | September 16, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Put a few beers into any Republican and the truth will come out....

They only like white conservative people, everyone else can go to 4377.

They have an inexplainable attraction to bathroom stalls.

Their fingers stick to their pictures of Sarah Palin.

"Monkeys belong in zoos" real quote from a real Republican.

Debt is good, more debt is better.

Profits come before everything.

Morality can only be achieved through the Republican party.

Posted by: thecontributist | September 16, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

sambam: Adam Smith believed in progressive taxation (excuse my ignorance)? That's good to hear, that his insight into the wealth of nations included this belief.

Posted by: newageblues | September 16, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rdonrichardson | September 17, 2009 4:25 AM | Report abuse

In psychology, the Rosenthal Effect says that people tend to live up to society's expectations of them. so telling a child that he is disadvantaged because he is black may actually cause that child to become disadvantaged, when s/he might not otherwise have been. so are we really doing children a service by teaching them that they are disadvantaged because of their race?

Posted by: adifferentpointofview | September 17, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Well rdonrichardson, when I see a post in all upper case I size them up as idiots and walk on.

Posted by: craigjjs | September 17, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

As a black woman in my 50's who has tried to raise her children in more racially diverse environment than I had growing up, I must confess that right now, I'm afraid of white people that I don't know. I grew up in a segregated South and did everything that I could to possibly broaden my horizons as a child and young adult with choice of schools and college. I even went so far as to move further north (Norther Virginia) and vowed to never move back to the deep south. But lately, I'm nervous. I don't know what to expect from people at the grocery store or the gas station. I smile and am friendly to everyone, but I wonder if people somehow now think that my son would attack them because of their color especially when he has always worried that he would be attacked because of his color and sexual orientation.

Scary world that I'm living in right now.

Posted by: | September 17, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Keep talking about race?

Why not? It keeps some segments of society employed and off the streets.

Posted by: AlongTheWatchTowers | September 17, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Of course racism remains a problem... but it is mostly a practice and a belief on the Left.

What do we call Jeremiah Wright's church of hate teachings ?

What do we call Obama's immediate admittedly uninformed and mistaken reaction to the white cop ? Obama may be forgiven as he suffered for 20 years under J. Wright.

What do we call the rush to judgment by academics and media, and the year-long ordeal of the white Duke lacrosse team ?

What do we call Attorney General Holders halting of the prosecution of the voter-intimidating Black Panthers ?

What do we call the beating of a black conservative by white SEIU thugs ?

Racism is alive and well and practiced and preached overwhelmingly by the Left in America.

Posted by: pvilso24 | September 17, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Capehart, this column just breaks my heart.

I'm a middle-aged white woman who supported President Obama's candidacy and voted for him. I was thrilled when he won, and I can honestly say that I trust him and believe in him. And, for the record, I'm certain that he's waaaay smarter than I am (and I'm not chopped liver in the intelligence department).

Your article affected me in same way as did a conversation many months ago with a black female friend. She was relating an incident about her husband, an MIT-educated engineer, who was stopped on an interstate while traveling with several friends (also professional men) to a wedding. They were pulled over by a state trooper and subjected to a variety of intrusive questions before being allowed to proceed on their way. Their only infraction had been DWB -- driving while black.

But what really pierced me about her story was when she said, matter-of-factly, that the men in her family are used to this sort of thing and almost unconsciously behave and carry themselves in such a way as to attract minimum attention. They'd been doing this all their lives.

Your column here carries the same message. African Americans, mostly the men, expect to be under suspicion 24/7. They go through life having to prove they've committed no crime (whether or not an actual crime has been committed), having to behave in ways that demonstrate they're not carrying stolen goods, a weapon, or even an attitude.

As I said, this breaks my heart. Why should one sector of our society have to feel all the time as if others think they've done something wrong? And how does this belief -- and its corresponding behavior -- compromise their sense of self and leave them always feeling that they're outsiders?

It is this kind of soul-leeching, passive-aggressive attitude on the part of white Americans that makes me sick.

I continue to support President Obama and to feel that he can be relied on to accomplish the things that so badly need doing in our country right now. I feel immeasurably safe with him in the White House and have great confidence in his ability to lead.

I do believe, though, that he will have to engage with the race discussion, because it's not going to just go away. This is a defining moment in our national history, and the President needs to be a part of that. How? I don't know. But I trust in him to find the best way.

Posted by: kjohnson3 | September 17, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

This week’s Jedi mind trick to control the public square’s conversation is “So my opposition to President Obama makes me a racist?” If inserting that line and it changes the overarching conversational subject, I say well on you.

For those who cannot be derailed by such a sophomoric tactic and stays on subject, the overarching subject remains calling out actions such as 1) on the public Face book network likening the First Lady to an escaped gorilla. 2) created a cartoon of an ape laying on the ground with bullet holes and two burly white male cops standing over him with pistols drawn (implication being President Obama is an ape and should be ….) 3) Sending an e-mail picture depicting the White House lawn planted with watermelons under the title "No Easter egg hunt this year."

Now we either have a lot of people that didn’t fully understand or want to understand for themselves what the subject definitions are, instead they opted for the news media’s host personalities to defined it for them; or a number of individuals wanting a sense of belonging simply want to aligned themselves for no other reason than to look shock and say “A racist, Who me?”

Posted by: Mas1 | September 17, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article. If we continue to teach our children maybe this conversation will not have to be a rite of passage for any young children in the future.
We just need to be more civil with each other. It is natural for us to disagree and healthy for different opinions to be expressed but the hateful tone detracts from the conversation and lessens the chance for true and meanigful compromise.
America is flawed but where else would any of us rather be?

Posted by: apexmerch | September 17, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Everyone is talking but who is actually listening. The time for talk is and has been over. So, some continue ignorance and hatred so why listen to that. I am not wasting my time or yours conversing with jackas.s.s and foolish nonsense.

So, talk and hopefully some of you will have something intelligent to say and give us a reason to listen and not be pawns when you want our vote or do a survey or attend your meetings to create a colorful background.

It is wiser to listen than talk and really be saying nothing worthwhile and not really mean it. Just be hateful and racist with no rational reasoning at all. So, my skin is different but, so is your damn brain-got it? Guess not you were not listening.

Posted by: Scar1 | September 17, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

President Carter is speaking a truth that few Americans are willing to hear. He grew up at the height of Jim Crow in the Deep South—the man knows racism when he sees it. Most white Americans simply cannot face the ugly past of “race in America” and how much it is still with us today.

Rep. Joe Wilson’s, R-S.C., inability to contain himself from yelling out “You lie” at the president during a joint session of Congress is a classic case of an angry Southern white male reaching his limit with the uppity Ivy-League educated, one-term-senator-turned-president. Some may argue that this doesn’t make him a racist. But at best, his outburst demonstrates an intolerance and a lack of respect that he never would have shown to a white commander in chief. Such is the case with much of what we hear from our fellow citizens. There is an anger, a vitriol, a hatred of this president that seems deeply personal. And it is unnerving.

As Americans, all of us should be alarmed at the increasing hostility of our dialogue: There’s Fox News TV host Glenn Beck calling the president a “racist.” Rush Limbaugh declaring that “Obama’s America” is one “where black kids can beat up white kids on a bus.” Then there’s the “birthers” who swear that Obama is not a legitimate commander in chief and those who sob that they want “their country back.” My question is: From whom do you want your country back?

The problem is that we’ve gotten so used to not dealing with racial tensions in this country. They’ve become so nuanced that we cover or shrug them off because they are not as blatant as they were in the 1790s, 1840s, 1920s or 1960s. That’s a mistake. Whether we like it or not, those tensions are still here with us.

Posted by: Privilegedmen | September 17, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"US President Barack Obama does not believe current criticism of his policies is based on the colour of his skin, the White House has said."

Realistically, President Obama could not possibly say anything else without adding fuel to the growing racial fire that the media broadcast actions of those who have "intentionally demonstrated animosity" toward our President have sparked.

Even so, it should also be clear to anyone rational that while the issue of racism may not be the "overwhelming" motivation of those who loudly and publicly proclaim to be "Birthers", "Deathers", "Tea-Partiers" and "You Liars" seeking to reclaim "their" country, the intense level of demonstrated animosity directed at our new President, as compared to the lack of such directed at our ex-President and government as a whole during the past 8 dismal years, just as clearly indicates that the color of President Obama's skin has and is playing a part in what is now motivating some of these people.

The real shame of the Repudiated Republican Party of No is that collectively and individually they are satisfied to sit back silent and/or deny that the issue of racism exist and thus let such a sad motivation continue to stir itself into a frenzy without taking a public stand against it and in doing so only further repudiate itself and themselves.

Of Course President Obama Rejects Carter's Racism Claim!

Posted by: csfoster2000 | September 17, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Fallen1... The point William saying, "taxi drivers don't want to pick up blacks and waiters don't want to wait on blacks" was the vast majority of them do NOT tip... not that its mandatory to do so, but its business and if you were going to be able to pick who to serve, who in their right mind would choose somebody that is very much more than likely not going to tip you? The fact that you don't know this however, ironically shows your lack of experience in a "cross-section" of American Society... or you would know that already... its not a racist thing, its a fact... they don't tip and demand the highest quality of service... and he absolutely has you beat on the issue... african americans are by far the most racist ethnicity in America... you can simply judge by the numbers that came out to vote for a black man compared to the numbers that did and will in the future stay at home when a white is running for president... I would argue far more people voted FOR Obama based on race than voted AGAINST Obama based on race... its a mute point...

Posted by: lanceshinn | September 18, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what williamporterfield meant when he wrote this:

"I'm not at all mad at the world. I'm not mad at blacks. White women can go out with them all they want. But i do hold them responsible for their own reputation."

"But i do hold them responsible for their own reputation"


Sorry, but that sounds racist to me, a white woman.

Posted by: FedUp1 | September 19, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

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