One of the more unfortunate side effects of the election of Barack Obama as president has been a rise in prejudice hate crimes across the nation. These incidents have ranged from the expected name-calling to nooses being hung to a store in Michigan flying a flag upside down — the international signal for distress — the day after Obama was elected.
Perhaps the most disturbing story to come to light involves a school bus of second- and third-graders in Idaho chanting, “Assassinate Obama.” One is left to wonder how the chant started, and what the kids’ parents are teaching them.
This rise in hate is simply another sign that Obama’s election did not signal a new birth of America as a color-blind nation — it was simply a step on the path to that hoped-for future.
Frankly, it’s likely that any realist could foresee these events occurring. Anyone who has been paying attention knows there are a lot of people in the U.S., and many of them hold a lot of unfounded hate inside. It’s likely that for many people with racist tendencies bubbling just under the surface, the election of a black man to the highest office in the land was enough of a trigger to bring that hate to the surface.
What’s really scary is that this newly exposed hate may now be spread to children. We can’t forget that children are born without a reason to hate anyone. Prejudices are passed down by adults — resulting in incidents such as the one in Idaho. The anger parents feel toward Obama can easily become an irrational hatred their kids also hold.
Now it’s likely that we’re currently witnessing a knee-jerk reaction to Obama’s election, and as we get further and further away from Election Day, the hate will begin to die down somewhat as people grow more used to the idea of a black president and accept that their candidate lost.
Some of people’s hate might also simply be ignorance — there are plenty of people in the world to whom minorities are a concept they only read about in the media. As Obama begins to accomplish things and hopefully improve the nation, these people may begin to realize there is no real difference between the different races.
Of course, the flip side is that if things deteriorate under Obama, it’s likely racists will simply see his failures as evidence of black people’s inferiority. Unfortunately, many of the people like this are probably set in their ways, and nothing will change the way they think.
What the country needs to do is focus on those who are more open and willing to change their minds — especially young people. Obama can provide a visible example of the fact that the only thing that matters is what a person does, and not what they look like.
It’s imperative that as many people as possible understand that the color of a person’s skin doesn’t matter to ensure that we can finally reach a place where race truly no longer matters.
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