Racism In America
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Racism in America has gone from blatant, obvious expression to nuanced, subtle behaviors. It is an example of how two seemingly conflictual feelings can coexist both in an individual and in society at large.

In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till walked into a grocery store to buy gum. In 2012, Trayvon Martin walked into a grocery store to buy Skittles and an iced tea. Both were brutally shot to death at close range. Racism (and profiling) are at work in both of these incidents. However, the racism against Emmett Till was embedded in the theory that white men were superior to black men. This was Jim Crow and the deep south. The racism connected with Trayvon Martin also rests on the same, but in addition, it reflects the urban American creation of the black ghetto. This segregation of the black community coexists with the ongoing formation of the black middle class. This author labels it the “iconic ghetto”. Similar to the racism of the past it reflects the belief that African Americans have a ‘place’… from the cotton fields of the south to the ghettos of our cities. This author calls it a “cultural lag”.

We have made significant racial progress, from the civil rights movement to the re-election of President Obama. There is still a backlash undercurrent that Barack Obama is ‘out of place’ and therefore ‘not quite’ President.


Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin

 ”Emmett and Trayvon: How Racial Prejudice Has Changed” by Elijah Anderson

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Separated by a thousand miles, two state borders, and nearly six decades, two young African- American boys met tragic fates that seem remarkably similar today: both walked into a small market to buy some candy; both ended up dead.

The first boy is Emmett Till, who was 14 years old in the summer of 1955 when he walked into a local grocery store in Money, Miss., to buy gum. He was later roused from bed, beaten brutally, and possibly shot by a group of White men who later dumped his body in a nearby river. They claimed he had stepped out of his place by flirting with a young White woman, the wife of the store’s owner. The second boy is Trayvon Martin, who was 17 years old late last winter when he walked into a 7-Eleven near a gated community in Sanford, Fla., to buy Skittles and an iced tea.

He was later shot to death at close range by a mixed-race man, who claimed Martin had behaved suspiciously and seemed out of place. The deaths of both boys galvanized the nation, drew sympathy and disbelief across racial lines, and, through the popular media, prompted a reexamination of race relations.

In the aftermath of Martin’s death last February, a handful of reporters and columnists, and many members of the general public, made the obvious comparison: Trayvon Martin, it seemed, was the Emmett Till of our times. And, while that comparison has some merit-the boys’ deaths are similar both in some of their details and in their tragic outcome-these killings must also be understood as the result of very different strains of racial tension in America.

The racism that led to Till’s death was embedded in a virulent ideology of White racial superiority born out of slavery and the Jim Crow codes, particularly in the Deep South. That sort of racism hinges on the idea that Blacks are an inherently inferior race, a morally null group that deserves both the subjugation and poverty it gets.

The racial prejudice that led to Trayvon Martin’s death is different. While it, too, was born of America’s painful legacy of slavery and segregation, and informed by those old concepts of racial order-that Blacks have their “place” in society-it in addition reflects the urban iconography of today’s racial inequality, namely the Black ghetto, a uniquely urban American creation. Strikingly, this segregation of the Black community coexists with an ongoing racial incorporation process that has produced the largest Black middle class in history, and that reflects the extraordinary social progress this country has made since the 1960s. The civil rights movement paved the way for Blacks and other people of color to access public and professional opportunities and spaces that would have been unimaginable in Till’s time.

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