barbarahowardweb.gifA few weeks ago, my mother angrily uttered an oft-repeated phrase of the black middle class, “America is a racist nation.”

She did not understand why I do not agree. So she sent me several issues of the award-winning Intelligence Report  magazine to prove her point.
The Report is published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded by famed civil rights lawyer Morris Dees. My mother is a member of the center.  The organization follows the actions of such well-established racist organizations as the Neo-Confederates, the Neo-Nazis, the skinheads, the many affiliates of the Aryan Brotherhood, and the most famous of the white supremacist groups, the Ku Klux Klan.

Dees has a passion for civil rights, and has chronicled the movement of left-wing and right-wing extremists, anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Catholic and militia organizations. He has also tracked Russian-speaking Christian fundamentalists and the black supremacist Nation of Yahweh, formerly headquartered in Miami.  There are close to 900 active hate groups.

So, if you read the Intelligence Report, you could very well conclude that America is filled with racist organizations and evil racist people. But one must ask some questions before one can conclude that America is a racist nation. The most important question is, “Do these people make up the majority of Americans?”

I think not.

True, there is racism in America, but is America a racist nation?  What is the definition of racism?  And does everyone agree on what constitutes a racist act?

For instance, why is it that when Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer thoroughly insulted Harry C. Alford, CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce, in an open Senate hearing, none of the black community “leaders” even gave it a second thought?  Even though Alford stated that he felt like he was back in the Jim Crow era, not even black media thought it rose to the level of racism.

Yet, just a few days later, when a Cambridge, Mass. police officer arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., every black media outlet, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the black clergy, CNN, white liberals, even the president, called the actions of the cop racist.

When a violent black career criminal was killed in Oakland by a white cop after murdering four cops himself, there was also an outcry of racism, the same way that the Rev. Al Sharpton and the
NAACP cried racism in Florida even though black criminals had tortured, raped and robbed a black woman.

And any time a Republican speaks against the president of the United States or anybody black, for that matter, the charge of racism gets hurled around on every liberal media outlet around. 

But when black Republicans Michael Steele, Condoleeza Rice, Frances Rice, J.C. Watts, Alan Keyes and other black conservatives get insulted by liberal whites, there is not a word of complaint by anybody in the black community – not the media, not the clergy, not politicians – nobody.

So the question remains, what is the definition of racism?

Most accept that it relates to racial superiority, racial discrimination, racial intolerance and/or hatred for another’s race. So technically, that could mean anybody belonging to any racial group who is guilty of feelings of superiority, actions that discriminate, intolerance or hatred for another group due solely to their race. That would make my mother’s assertion that America is a racist nation at least plausible.

But since most blacks refuse to accept the proposition that anything they say or do can be considered racist, then we are left to assume that only non-blacks can be guilty of racism, and only blacks and other minorities can be considered victims of racism.

So then why wasn’t there an outcry of racism against Sen. Boxer, who demeaned and insulted  Alford, a black Democrat, or any of the other whites who attack black Republicans on a regular basis?

Why is it that any verbal or physical attack on a black Republican is ignored, but those same actions toward any other black person are defined as racist?  That’s not to mention any action by any white or non-black cop?

Was U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder right when he said we need “to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us?’’

Because, frankly, I’m confused.  Somebody redefined racism and neglected to tell the rest of us.  Instead of selective memory, we suffer from selective racism.

And “never the twain shall meet.”

Barbara Howard is president of Barbara Howard & Associates and the Florida state chair for C.O.R.E. (the Congress of Racial Equality).