The good, the bad and the ugly

The original intent of Beth Rankin’s March 13 column, “I am not a white bitch,” was to encourage open discussion about racism in our society. The leadership of, TV2, the Daily Kent Stater and Black Squirrel Radio anticipated differing viewpoints and hoped to foster an intelligent conversation.

But while many have shared their points of view in a civil, constructive way, there has also been a disturbing number of racist and hateful comments posted to the site. We do not agree with or support the ideas expressed in these comments; we find them to be disturbing and disgusting. However, we have decided it would be hypocritical to ask for an open discussion but then shut it down when the dialogue turns ugly.

These comments demonstrate the fact that hatred and intolerance are very much alive and have no place in civilized society. Because of this, we strongly feel the discussion must continue.

We do not intend to encourage racism. Instead, as a community, we need to address those who still feel justified in holding these views. The only way to fight back is to know racism and prejudice still exist and confront them. This won’t be an easy task, but it is the only way to go beyond wishful thinking.

Last week’s Black United Students’ meeting was the start of what we hope will be many public discussions on campus. The only way to begin fixing racial problems is to bring them to light.

Let’s be honest. Racism is ugly, inflammatory and incredibly hurtful. Though some have and can experience it, most white people can never fully understand it. This is not to fault them. White people are in the majority in terms of population. Historically, Anglo-Saxons have been in control of politics, the economy and education. Even when they are no longer the largest ethnic group in America, they will still hold the seats of power and influence.

It is almost impossible for whites to fully understand racism. They will never experience what it is to be black or any other racial/ethnic minority. That’s why they don’t see it.

It can’t be an excuse, however, to be insensitive to racial issues. Not anymore. Just because you don’t see it or realize it doesn’t make it any less offensive. God knows how many can, and have, coast through life without paying any attention to race. The only way to become more sensitive is to educate yourself.

This may come across as a simplistic solution. Make yourself smarter and more socially aware, and racism won’t exist anymore. But if you start now, with yourself and eventually your children, it’ll be harder for ignorance to take hold. If you show no tolerance for racism now, how can it possibly exist later? If the hidden prejudice in us falls apart now, the hate spewed by people who have commented on this column will become a thing of the past.

The lesson to take from what they’ve written is that racism obviously still exists. Because it exists in such an extreme form, everything between that and love is around, too. While it may be too late to show them the error of their ways, we can learn from them.

Hate and racism are still here, but they don’t have to be if we don’t let them.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, and the student leaders of, TV2 and Black Squirrel Radio.