The National Catholic Review

Two carloads of Mississippi teens drove into Jackson for no other reason than to beat up the first black person they came across. It was not the first excursion to what the boys called “Jafrica,” where they would target vulnerable African-Americans who were not likely to go to the police. But this time the victim would not remain nameless. James Craig Anderson was standing in a motel parking lot when the gang beat him to the ground, ran him over with a large pickup truck and yelled “white power” as they left him for dead. This heinous murder occurred not 50 years ago but five.

On Feb. 29, 2016, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ordered four of the primary co-conspirators—each already sentenced in February 2015 to seven to 50 years—to pay $840,000 in restitution to Mr. Anderson’s estate. In an impassioned speech at the original sentencing hearing, Judge Reeves recounted the savage history of “Old Mississippi” and noted the state “has struggled mightily to reinvent itself” from the legacy of slavery and lynching. And yet these young people lived their whole lives in the “New Mississippi,” raised in its families and educated in its schools.

Likewise, the racial hatred surfaced by this year’s presidential campaigns has its roots not just in 1860 or 1960 but in modern institutions and hearts. A former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard has endorsed the Republican frontrunner; two men in Boston yelled “Donald Trump was right” as they brutally beat a Latino man; and some 30 black students were thrown out of a Trump rally at their own college. Many find it easier to see these incidents as relics of the “old America,” reminiscent of Jim Crow, rather than as signs of our time. But the progress of the civil rights era was neither perfect nor permanent. And today, as bigoted voices are raised and amplified, Americans must respond with more than dismayed silence.

Comments

J Cabaniss | 3/12/2016 - 10:07am

The racist incidents you cited were inexcusable. They do not, however, justify your implication that white racism is still a major problem in the US. If you want to make that case you cannot do it with isolated, anecdotal events, you have to show what is happening statistically throughout the country. If you try to do that, however, your position becomes a lot less sustainable.

After the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, it has been assumed that white cops are so bigoted they will kill black suspects with little to no justification. That is the implication we are meant to draw from those incidents. As I said, if you look at national statistics, the picture is completely different. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has a category called Arrest Related Deaths (ARD) which is "an annual national census of persons who died either during the process of arrest or while in the custody of state or local law enforcement personnel."

Here is what the numbers show: of all blacks who died in ARD incidents (2003-2009), 61.3% died of homicide. This would include incidents like Michael Brown in Ferguson. Any guess as to what that number is for whites? Based on the complaints of the Black Lives Matter group, and articles like this, one would expect a huge discrepancy between the two numbers, but in fact the percentage of whites who died of homicide in ARD incidents was...60.9%.

Your article is part of the problem. It assumes a problem exists and goes on to "substantiate" that assumption by innuendo and implication. If we really have a race problem in this country where are the numbers to support that claim?

Joanne Love | 3/11/2016 - 11:00pm

It is very difficult for me to believe that this is happening in the 21st century. In 1967, as a (white) college student, I encountered this kind of bigotry at a lunch counter in Atlanta. My son has told me that his best friend since childhood (mixed race) is afraid to go to some parts of Atlanta after dark. My own (black) friend has told me she feels the need to carry her passport in parts of Atlanta...what is happening to MY America?! And more importantly, how do we move forward. You are right to suggest that we cannot remain silent, but how do we reach the folks who buy into Trump's fantasy of "great again" - I, for one, do not want to go back. It just hurts my heart that bigotry remains so intrenched

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