If we need any further evidence that we are years if not decades away from a post-racial society—and that point has been made repeatedly with the rash of fatal assaults on unarmed Black men by white police officers—check the recent racist emails, comments and responses from law-enforcement officers in Miami, a school principal in Georgia and a professor at Duke University.
Each of these outrageous actions is a product of someone in a supposedly trusted and responsible position in our society, yet somehow they were unable to contain their feelings about Black Americans.
An internal affairs probe in Miami Beach disclosed that two high-level former police officers sent hundreds of “crude, racist and pornographic emails to fellow cops over a two-year period.” The incidents included racial jokes about President Obama, golfer Tiger Woods and rap artist Snoop Dogg. One email shows an image of a woman with a black eye and a caption that read: “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.”
Another featured an image of a game called “Black Monopoly,” and every board game square shows a cop saying “Go to Jail.”
Even more harmful than the insulting words and images, these egregious emails may have compromised many criminal cases in which the officers were involved as witnesses. Their testimonies could have been racially bias against someone arrested and accused of a crime. Sixteen officers were implicated in these emails, and all of them have been fired.
In Georgia, Nancy Gordeuk, principal of TNT Academy, an alternative private school with grades 7 through 12 in Stone Mountain, has also been fired after making racially charged comments during a graduation ceremony. She mistakenly dismissed attendees before the valedictorian spoke and as people began to leave the room, she tried to call them back, referring to one of them as a coward for leaving.
“Look who’s leaving,” she also said, “all the Black people.” There was a loud reaction from the Black students, many of them yelling and rebuking her. Later, she apologized, saying “the devil was in the house and came out from my mouth.”
And then there is Professor Jerry Hough of Duke University, a political science teacher who in a response to an editorial in the New York Times compared African-Americans to Asian-Americans. For Hough, an expert on Russian history, the inability of Black Americans to integrate in society is because of their names. “Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration,” he wrote. “Virtually every Black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration.” Rather than following Dr. King, he continued, they followed Malcolm X. Thus far, he has refused to apologize.
It is not necessary to present his full response; from these two lines his simpleton analysis is abundantly clear.
We could go with other examples of what is increasingly becoming a barrage of racial animosity and insensitivity to diversity, and we saw it in the chants of a fraternity in Oklahoma and in the discriminatory action of a sorority in Alabama.
We cannot help but conclude that if the most educated of our society is full of racial animus, what is the thinking of those less endowed with these opportunities?
Before us is a very bleak scenario, and it seems to portend—and we will be naïve to think otherwise—that it’s going to get much worse before we have any indication of a more caring racial climate.