No, Oprah and Barack can’t fix racism: Stop celebrating “how far we’ve come!”
Yes, Black stars break down barriers--but this week showed they don't signal broad systemic changes. Here's why
By Brittney Cooper
Fifty years ago, scores of exceptional black people used our position at the margins to push this nation into a different and more inclusive future. Five decades later, we live in a world where ordinary black citizens are still murdered by police officers. We live in a world where exceptional black people elicit ephemeral waves of white outrage, but the perpetual killing of ordinary black people will largely be met with silence. We live in a world where the police call George Zimmerman “another Sandy Hook waiting to happen,” while other officers of the state have allegedly conspired to let him get away with Trayvon Martin’s murder. We live in a world where black people absolutely cannot trust the police. We live in a post-moral universe where justice is a moving target that manages to curiously and conspicuously evade black people.
We live in a world where brown people are viewed as threatening terrorists, never mere citizens: That is true whether we are speaking of a disoriented, scared 20-something who has just survived a horrendous car wreck or a beautiful Indian American woman who has been crowned Miss America. This was just as true 50 years ago.
To underscore the point, let's look at a typical week-plus in racist America. Here are some news items that appeared from September 9 to September 17 this year:
Limbaugh names Obama’s Syria plan “Operation: Shuck & Jive”
Judge: Abercrombie wrongly fired Muslim for hijab
Racist “patriots” want me dead: I dared criticize “the troops”
You heard me: Rush Limbaugh is “a racist troll”
Ann Coulter’s Psychotic Racism Too Much Even for FOX
How I Called the Cops and Almost Got Shot: the Politics of Being a "Threat"
Florida man accused of ‘walking on wrong side of the road’
O’Reilly and Allen West agree: Trayvon Martin died because ‘he looked a certain way’
Rush Limbaugh Insults His Own Sponsor McDonalds By Calling McNuggets Poor People Food
Obama Derangement Syndrome Explodes: Right Goes Crazy As FLOTUS Suggests We Drink More Water
7 crazy right wing statements from just last week
Fox Nation Reacts To D.C. Navy Yard Shooting With Racist Hate
This Might Make You Sick: 11 Cases of Restaurant Racism
Miss America sparks America's racism
'How Could Anyone Have So Much Hate?' New Kind of Range War in So. Dakota
University of Alabama president admits: ‘Our Greek system remains segregated’ by race
When It Comes To Illegal Drug Use, White America Does The Crime, Black America Gets The Time
Report: Exec overseeing U.S. Open security wanted guard dog for ‘some n*gger eating’
Note that I didn't include items primarily about prejudice toward women or gays. If I had included them, it would've doubled or tripled the number of items.
Any questions about the ongoing racism in America despite--or because of--having a black president?
For more on the subject, see White Privilege = Male Privilege and Whiteness Defines Others as Outsiders.