Sunday, April 23, 2006

Tunnel Vision in Omaha

A few years ago, a lady at my church, who happened to also be an ordained minister and professor of theology, was relating a story about one of her colleagues. This other lady, who was Black, was asked to give a talk on racism or something to that effect. "I don't know why they always ask a Black person to talk about racism" my church friend quoted her colleague, "racism is a white person's problem." I of course could not shut up and said," I certainly disagree and I feel that your friend is racist by making that statement". My comment was met with stony silence.

Racism is racism, sexism is sexism, every prejudice is shared by both parties in the room. Omaha, NE is seeing that first hand in the raging battle over school district boundaries. Racism on all sides prevail, stupidity reins, tunnel vision is the norm... and the kids and poor suffer.

A Black state senator and constant critic of the city, says families in predominantly Black neighborhoods of northeast Omaha don't want their schools controlled by mostly white administrators who hire mostly white teachers. He arranged a law that has divided the city schools along racial lines. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if a white or Hispanic legislator did that? But he feels this is not racist. Look in the mirror honey, you are a racist.

Legal experts, the NAACP, and most people with a brain think that the new law is unconstitutional and smacks of "separate but equal" policies outlawed when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered desegregation in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.

However, The Omaha Star, a black-owned newspaper, published an editorial saying the new law was not such a bad idea and could provide more resources and local control. "This concept that black kids can't be successfully educated unless they are around white kids is in and of itself patently racist and illogical." Racism. Maybe I want my schools controlled by my people and I think that is racist and illogical that my kids would be better educated among students different than them. "That is racist", I would be told. The screaming and wailing would be deafening.

The man behind this is angry we are told. "I've a reason to be." He recalled growing up in mostly white Omaha schools where one teacher read aloud Little Black Sambo, prompting chuckles from his classmates. Get over it doll face, ASAP. I guess I should be angry.. I was intimidated and threatened by black students in High school, shoving and hitting their way down the hallway. The only crime committed against me was by a black person. I guess I can have a reason to be an angry racist.

Tunnel vision prevails, names are called, a "not me" attitude prevails... and still Johnny can't read.

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