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February 20th, 2009
11:49 AM ET

If not a nation of cowards, then certainly a nation in denial

Attorney General Eric Holder helps celebrate Black History Month at an event Wednesday at the Justice Department.

Attorney General Eric Holder helps celebrate Black History Month at an event Wednesday at the Justice Department.

Carmen Van Kerckhove
President, New Demographic

In a speech at the Department of Justice on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder declared that when it comes to dealing with the issue of race, we are "essentially a nation of cowards."

While his choice of words was harsh, he was absolutely right in pointing out the fact that honest, authentic, and productive conversations about race rarely happen in this country.

Following his historic speech on race last spring, Barack Obama was castigated by some cable channel talking heads for "throwing his white grandmother under the bus" because he had the audacity to point out that his own flesh and blood - the grandmother who had helped to rear him and loved him like a son –- had herself been guilty of internalizing and reflecting racist stereotypes.

Should Obama’s revelation have come as a surprise? Not really.

We've been conditioned from an early age by advertising, pop culture, and the news media. We're surrounded 24/7 by images steeped in racial stereotypes. There's simply no way for us not to be influenced by them.

So why the denial? For the reason Holder explained: Once we open this particular Pandora’s box to the light, we’re going to expose notions and prejudices most people fervently wish we could put behind us.

Unfortunately, trying to relegate racism to the past is premature. We’re just not there yet.

Just look at the reaction to Holder’s comment. Instead of acknowledging his (somewhat obvious, really) remark about race with a silent, knowing nod, many are rushing to call Holder a troublemaker for stating an inconvenient truth.

People are far too eager to proclaim how colorblind and post-racial they are. Last summer, a Washington Post-ABC News poll posed the question “If you honestly assessed yourself, would you say that you have at least some feelings of racial prejudice?" Only three in ten of the respondents answered yes.

Apparently, many Americans of all backgrounds have convinced themselves that they are not any part of the problem, even though racism continues to deny people of color a level playing field in just about every aspect of our society.

We’ve fallen victim to denial because in the past twenty years, there has been far too much emphasis on “celebrating diversity” at the expense of taking a hard look at race and racism.

As Latoya Peterson recently wrote on our blog Racialicious, "The history that we currently teach is hopelessly sanitized to the point where people are still unsure exactly what happened at a lynching, and are unaware of the historical meaning of behind leaving nooses as 'a prank.'"

School textbooks gloss over the unsavory realities of genocide, slavery, and other systematic forms of institutionalized racism. Every February, black history is boiled down to little more than a series of Trivial Pursuit™-like facts about who invented peanut butter.

What Holder said hit many as hard as it did because, down deep, we know he’s right. We don't dare face our own deepest, darkest prejudices and bring them into the light where we might re-examine and eventually obliterate them.

Professing to be “colorblind” is not an answer; it’s a dodge. We need to stop pussyfooting around the issue and face it head-on.

It's time for us to have a real conversation about race.

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Andi

    Quit taking Mr. Holder's words and twisting them. We ARE a nation of cowards when it comes to race. Look how angry people became when he said this and how they raced to defend themselves!

    Just like the Republicans and their denial of the Stimulus plan....if your life is all rosy and ducky, you think everyone, if they had been like you, would be all happy, too. How quick we are to forget how easy it is for some because they are the right color, have the right parents, or the right trust fund. These same people rant on about how hard THEY worked, when most of their success is based not on talent, but on who they are, what they look like, and who they know.

    A really simple example of this is during a Chicago Blackhawks home game, between the 2nd and 3rd periods, there is a 'shoot the puck' contest. The contestants are, a little boy, a man from the crowd, and a sexy woman in tight clothes and high heels. My niece, who was in 4th grade, watching this asked me, "Auntie, why do the girls have to have big boobs to shoot the puck? I bet you could shoot it way better than that...." How do you explain that you have to 'look' a certain way as a woman to enter contests? Same theory as our 'cowardice' when it comes to race.

    February 23, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  2. KIm

    "School text books gloss over .....?" When was the last time Holder visted a publc school ? Peanut butter sandwiches are for lunch !

    February 22, 2009 at 8:14 pm |
  3. Pat

    When I hear conversations about race and indifference it reminds me of this poem. The intermixing of different patterns(cultures) different colors(race) all have a part in the working and making of a unique colorful design that all can enjoy and feel proud of. But if we were to cull on of the patches of the whole which one would it be? They are different but work, meld together to build a unique lasting fabric.

    THE PATCHWORK QUILT.

    Life isn't given to us all of a piece,
    It's more like a patchwork quilt –
    Each hour and minute a patch to fit in
    To the pattern that's being built.

    With some patches light – and some patches dark,
    And some that seem ever so dull –
    But if we were given to set some apart,
    We'd hardly know which to cull.

    For it takes the dark patches to set off the light,
    And the dull to show up the gay –
    And, somehow, the pattern just wouldn't be right
    If we took any part away.

    No, life isn't given us all of a piece,
    But in patches of hours to use,
    That each can work out his pattern of life
    To whatever design he might choose.

    ~ Helen Lowrie Marshall ~

    February 22, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  4. Marissa

    And to people who think that Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, etc....are all just whining and LOOKING for racism..... That's like being a man and telling a woman that sexism doesn't exist–she's just looking for stuff to whine about! It's like being straight and telling a gay person to stop complaining about the homophobia in this country. It's like being a Size 0 and bigger person to STFU about her struggles!

    How can you say such things if you don't know what it's like to be part of that group?! *Sigh* I should just give up!

    February 22, 2009 at 6:43 am |
  5. Marissa

    Isabell, Melissa and Ding–I totally agree!! All this whining is giving me a headache lol..... Just proving Carmen's point! Some people just refuse to really learn and care about the struggles of other groups..... Oh well!

    February 22, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  6. Joshua Adjei

    Yes, America is "a nation of cowards." America act like it is not there but it is. Black and white are very careful to talk about it. However, it is very there in out schools and work places. People are very scare to talk about it because they are scare to loose their job or ant privileges. Racism against minorities in Upstate New York @ Syracuse and Oswego areas are increasing. it is seen in sports team and academics, but people are scare to talk about. This needs to be investigate.

    February 21, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  7. mb

    And everyone is even more prejudiced against cowboys. No one, white, black, or purple runs to me to go riding. I haven't been made CEO yet, so that's got to be because I'm "country". Boy if it were only so easy to go through life being able to use that as an excuse.

    There are a TON of people in this country whose families were not in America during the slavery period, yet they're lumped into the "white" mix and claimed to be racist as well. How many black/minorities know the history of every race that makes up this country?

    As far as employment goes. Asian-Americans have the highest average earnings per household. Whites come in second, then Latinos, and finally blacks. Asian-Americans also have the highest percentage of those who have a 4 year degree followed by whites and then blacks, and finally Latinos. Check the census. Immigrant blacks have a higher rate of college graduates in America than those who were born here. The income statistics reflect educational acheivement.

    We constantly hear the failure to acheive is because of racism, but yet minorities (Asian-Americans) earn on average more than whites. Statistics show success is driven by education, not color or race. Of course Asian-Americans place more emphasis on education than whites, and whites more than other minorities. If you have HS diploma, then expect an hourly wage at best. If you have a 2 year degree, then don't expect to make much more than $40K a year. To make it comfortably into the priviledged middle class it takes on average a minimum of a 4 year professional degree plus experience. However, there are far too many people who want the six figure income, but don't want to put in the work to qualify for the jobs. We have almost 50% foreign workers in my department because there aren't enough qualified Americans to fill the positions. It's not color that's keeping minorities out of these positions. These are six figure jobs.

    Whites are called racists, but when President Obama was elected the black community was excited because kids finally had a role model. WOW! It took the President being black to be a role model, yet they aren't racist and seeing color? Why does it take COLOR to be a role model? Who taught kids that blacks can't make it and why did it take one to show them it is possible? Why don't blacks use whites as role models? Not good enough? Not one of "them"? Face it. Racism is on both sides.

    Oddly enough, those who aren't hung up on blaming others, treating people with mutual respect, and working to get ahead on their own merits and not excuses, find there's far less racism in the world. If you want to dwell on the past instead of the future, then I've got no use for you.

    February 21, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  8. Wardell katrina Survivor

    IT;S said that the' TRUTH HURTS" no all whites aren't cowards, nor all anybody else, but in this country NO other ethnic group, other than NATIVE AMERICAN INDIANS, have endure as much striff, blood ,sweat, and tears,lost of life, humility than african americans, you can't relate, because you reaped the benefits, one lady suggested maybe academia was the answer, we were deprived of that, and still are,the Civil War was mentioned and laws that came about, look at the constitution and see when some states ratified slavery, that's only on paper,read " 12 years a slave ", some of you really don't get it, you want be be offended,when a lot of you came over and just assimulated, your GUILty, because you didn't rock the boat, and if you did, it was very suttle,WAKE UP AMERICA, look at that ugly, evil face in the past and present mirror, I know, you don't like what you see, or hear, not very pleasent, some said just move on, tell that to the jewish people and lets see what happens, they have a right, so do we, to express the horried past, and present, for some it's not as nice as you think even in 2009,look at yourselves, pretty, I don't think so.We have just expericened the ' GREAT AMERICAN RIPP-OFF" who did it, wheres the money,while you where living it up we were struggling to survive,now my children and greatgrand children have to pay for whose, GREED,wasn't that a part of what SLAVERY, was about, how do we catch up,the Bush children don't have to worry, the Cheney children don't have to worry, but my children have to pay for their good life, ever seen the movie " TRADING PLACES" I don't think none of you would like to trade with me,and I've worked since I was 7 years old, shining shoes on world famed canal street, where a child I saw one of the most evil, ugly thing s, , II've ever seen, a riot, because of busing,sorry for the double take, this is bad, but thats good, strike a nerve, let's talk, GOD, help US.

    February 20, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  9. Charles Randall

    Mr Holder needs to do his job as US Attorney General of Justice Dept. and just follow the law not try to re-write it or become a black advocate.
    Obama already has to cope with Biden, Bill Clinton & Pelosi .... he doesnt need another dumb butt talking stupid crap.

    I dont have serious discussion with relatives because I dont like a lot of them, the same goes for co-workers....why the hell would I want to do the same for a group that is carrying a 200 year old grudge that no one living today has any true familiarity with. Get rid of chip & take place as one new majority & stop whining about lost excuses.

    Almost every ethinc group in america came here in some form of slavery or indenture – Irish, Indians, Chinese, ect. The chinese americans actually had slavery issues longer & more sever than many black americans and yet they never try to go thru life getting a free ride out of it. Obama told blacks that thier day of excuses was over with his election – now the rest of you have to live up to it.

    February 20, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  10. Isabell, Indiana

    Are we in denial? I am only offended by an insult if I am in denial about its truth. If the insult is false, I simply dismiss it. If is true, I appreciate the criticism. If, however, I am in denial, being confronted with the truth will make me feel very uncomfortable.

    Are we a nation of cowards? Sadly, I do not see notable acts of courage in which people extend past social boundaries on a regular basis. It seems many people are isolated on their own islands with friends who have similar views. It is rare to see someone reach past religious, political, and racial lines to warmly and lovingly embrace others who are different from themselves. Being called cowards, should stimulate us towards improving ourselves, not cause us to cry and whine in way that only gives credence to the insult.

    February 20, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  11. melissa

    & btw, keep the great articles coming, carmen!

    we all have to remember that talking about racism in this country is not just about the black vs white binary: it cuts across all ethnic, racial & religious intersections–discrimination against & demonization of muslims in this country, tensions between minority groups who both find themselves at the bottom of the heap, the minefield that is immigration (no explanation needed), etc. all of these experiences ARE real–real big problems that everyone needs to face and shouldn't be afraid to discuss.

    February 20, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  12. melissa

    "We now have a black President, First Lady, Attorney General, mayors, governors, generals, etc., etc. Still the whining continues."

    umm, when will people stop using the successes of the few to gauge the overall health of an entire community? just today unemployment was reported at 9% nationwide, but 13% among black and latino communities, and as high as 20% among black males. as they say during an economic downturn, when "america catches a cold, black america gets the flu". so when the black community does try to pull itself up by its bootstraps (b/c honestly other than so-called affirmative action, no one else is doing anything to help socioeconomically) by engaging in "black activities", "black initiatives", "black scholarships" (or "black bike week" as another poster commented on) to improve conditions in the community and secure bright futures for young kids, they are labeled "divisive" and "segregationist"! wow. just can't catch a break...

    February 20, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  13. Roy

    So whites are cowards? What about blacks? no cowards there? What about asians? Mexicans? Etc? Not ALL whites are cowards. And neither are a lot of the other people mentioned. So to say whites are cowards is wrong. Not all whites are cowards, same as everyone else.

    February 20, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  14. Bill

    Look at the current university system in the U.S. and how for-profit universities seem to take advantage of minorities using taxpayers' dollars?

    We pay for these for-profit universities to make their profits using tax dollars while many people agree that the for-profit university students do not receive an equitable educational service in return?

    We should ask ourselves, What race compises the majority of the stockholders in these companies? and What race comprises the majority of service recipients in these companies?

    This might be a perfect example of racism based on educational services offered and provided to U.S. citizens.

    February 20, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  15. sarita

    exactamente ding....thanks Carmen for putting out your viewpoint which has not been offered in any other response that I have seen thus far. And I would add that Holder's comments were not harsh. Harsh are the statistics of institutional racism and their impact on real, everyday folks. Paz.

    February 20, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  16. ding

    ...and the comments here just prove carmen's point. (SIGH)

    February 20, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Melissa

    You mean the fact that the majority of people in the country decided to view Obama as nothing but a man instead of a black man means nothing?

    Honey, thats the kind of thing you're looking for. True equality is where the color of your skin ceases to mean anything in any way.

    Does it mean the same to YOU? To me, I was supporting a man. The fact that he was black didn't even remotely enter into the equation. Nor should it. Because it shouldn't even be an issue.

    February 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  18. Ella

    I don't think Attorney General Holder was referring to defending our families and country. I think he was referring to our cowardice of not being able to feel totally relaxed with someone of another race. I think a better word to use is "fear". Example, the white person is fearful that the black person will seek revenge (guilty complex); the black person is fearful that the white man is making fun of/belittling him/her.

    We all need to exhale.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  19. JC- Los Angeles

    With all due respect, you should speak for yourself when suggesting that most are in denial regarding race.

    Eric Holder and his separatist, segregationist and racist comments is simply abhorrent, egregious, divisive and counter-productive.

    While horrific racial and religious persecutions of the past should most certainly not be minimized, they should no longer be used as excuses or reasons for a lack of accomplishment, self respect, education, successful parenting, lawlessness or achievement.

    On January 20th, Americans of all races, religions and creeds watched as the candidate they voted for was sworn into office; he wasn't black or white or asian or native american, he was merely the one elected.

    It's a new America for those willing to embrace it and the end of the line for the separatists and cowards who cling to the trite past.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  20. Larry

    I am tired of all the republicans bashing President Obama's Stimilous package before it even has a chance to materialize and take effect. They (republicans) had 8 years to keep our economy out from this recession we have now and they did absolutely nothing!!! They need to give it a chance to play out and see what happens. They need to quit whining and bickering and make this plan work and work together for the country. The American people need a government that works together not republicans arguing against democrats.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  21. JAN

    White people have more than rallies. They have the right color according to their standards, They have the best jobs, money and the backing of the media. So, yes Larry. Whites have that and a lot more. Blacks are usually portrayed in a negative light where whites are concerned. It has always been that way in America.

    Conversation about culture in the light of black and white is hard for whites to do, because they have been the cause of the conversation in the first place. Whites have degraded blacks for so long and today they would like blacks to forget it. How and why for these conversation? Blacks are still stigmatized and ridicule and hated, and racism is still in your face. Whites are cowards they have always been cowards. Example is the KKK. Why do you think they have been covering there faces when hanging blacks? White are cowards in many more ways than can be addressed or talked about when it comes to racism.

    Ron Christie is a lost cause where blacks are concerned, he may owe some whites his position, so he’ s constantly kissing up, something is definitely wrong with him and many others like him. He thinks that he should have been born white.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  22. Bev C.

    Mr. Holder shouldn't have colored everyone with the same brush. I grew up with blacks. Two members of my senior class officers were black, and this was back in 1967 mind you. Does racism still exist? Of course it does – but NOT as before. This is a country of different people, religions, races, etc. You can't everyone to agree about one item. We now have a black President, First Lady, Attorney General, mayors, governors, generals, etc., etc. Still the whining continues.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  23. jimmie tucker

    why white people dont like to talk about race please read the WILLIE LYNCH LETTERS

    February 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  24. GF, Los Angeles

    Sharon S you may associate with people of different cultures but there are many that do not. Not everybody is like you. Most of the people you know are like you which is why you don't see what Mr. Holder is saying.

    I agree with Larry – for some reason people don't believe whites are discriminated against yet isn't that what affirmative action does? Why should we care about the "equal" number of gender and race working in a company when it should be the"best" regardless of gender and race?

    February 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  25. Mario Houston

    Racism...what a emotional word. A word that evokes fear, thought, violence, and hopefully now dialogue. I was not upset at the recent events that have occured, NY Post cartoon, and AG Eric Holders comments. But I was surprised by the overwhelming response they have attracted. Some will say racism is like terrorism. It only exsist when others take notice of it. Some will say that those are days gone past and we should look ahead. But, racism is like a comet that streaks across the sky. One that scars the universe with its heat. People know that the comet came and they know it left a mark but they want to move on with their lives. That is what racism has done for our country. The mear site of it made us stop and pause some just for a brief minute others for a lifetime. America cannot continue to ignore the damage that racism has and continues to cause. Just as it cannot ignore the beginings and foundation of our country. Everyday in schools across America the history of our nation is studied. Great detail is covered as they walk through time. But little attention is paid to slavery and what was the root cause of it. If you ask any school child to tell you why Washington crossed the Delaware they can. But if you ask the same child who was Crispus Attucks or who was Emmet Till, they probably cannot. This is because we are shamed by the events and the attrocities that occured in our near history. We are uncomfortable with talking about America's history when it relates to blacks. This is why AG Holder's comments cut so deep. This is why they needed to be said.
    America was built on the backs of people of color. Those that were looked down upon by a vast majority of people. People that procreated and perpetuated their thoughts on their offspring, and so on, and so on. If this were not so then we wouldn't still have confederate flags flying in some of our southern states. Young black men wouldn't still have to avoid certain areas of the south. Yes these are isolated occurances, but they still happen. There are still wounds of racism that continue to have the scab torn off. Conversely, there are people actively trying to live harmonously (sp) regardless of color or creed. This is why open dialogue about race is needed. It should not be looked upon as negative but as an opportunity to discuss our differences and see how our similarities can continue to unite us. We are a nation of proud men and women that can do amazing things if we embrace CHANGE. The cycle of hatred can end if we do as some have already choosen to do...talk about our past and build for the future. A future built, this time by people working and living to understand that our diversity strenghtens us.

    February 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  26. C Williams

    I keep coming back to that number "3 in 10" and wondering if we're asking the right questions. Maybe we need a new way of looking at this that acknowledges things from a more scientific perspective – humans process the vast amounts of information we take in by categorizing things.

    We're are taught sequencing in preschool because it will help us to recognize how letters and words come together when it's time to read. We identify everything by grouping it – we naturally look at things based on what they have in common and what is different. It's human nature. Because of this, we process the people around us quickly, and *that* isn't where the problem lies – it's when we receive input that makes those groupings easier because we say to ourselves "this is a negative thing and this is a positive thing". Somehow we have to acknowledge that we are ALL sorting and seeing differences AND similarities, while weeding out the information that comes from ignorance.

    On the other hand, it just might not be possible to have a completely racist-free society – while there are still people who believe you get a cold from being out in the cold; that beating their children makes them behave; that they can handle their alcohol and it doesn't affect their driving – while any of those thought processes and a million other unscientific harmful bits of ignorance are out there, how can we hope to convince people to see each person as an individual?

    I think one way is to acknowledge that slapping *everyone* for something is actually self-defeating – by shaming everyone including the folks who are knowledgable and compassionate, aren't we, in fact, doing the exact same thing as being racist – just filling in the blanks with different nouns?

    There's a lot of room for thought here, but broad sweeping negative statements aren't really going to motivate the ignorant, they're just going to disappoint the people who are actually living in an open-minded world.

    February 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  27. M Baier

    I agree with J. Greenwood. I had to explain this to my child as well. When I was finished the only thing she said was "well that's just stupid." I always thought that when you expected certain behaviors out of someone because of their skin color, that is considered racism. So in my opinion, painting me with this broad brush without ever having had a conversation with me is racist. Maybe the Al Sharptons of the world should start focusing on something they can actually do some good with such as, supporting victims of crime regardless of race. Maybe then the American People as a whole will come together instead of being separated by race which seems to be the case when ever these inflamatory "activists" appear.

    February 20, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  28. Bill

    So many well-known, publically-accepted newspapers publish truly, newsworthy stories such as this one covered by CNN, but at the same time some newspapers accept the postings of advertisements in their pages from what seem to be "scandalous" online universities, and I won't mention any names.

    Search university scams on the Internet and read the results. That's news worthy of reading, too.

    Scamming U.S. consumers and U.S. taxpapers using government funds through our education system sounds like real fraud to me. I guess this type of system might be acceptable when supported by the "establishment" but such a system must surely suffer from intellectual and return on investment atrophy.

    If we're not careful, we'll soon be calling ourselves "cheats," too. Unless we truly are in full-scale "denial."

    February 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  29. Larry

    Sadly, it seems my vote for Obama as an American President, not an African-American President, has been hijacked by the african-american community.

    February 20, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  30. Rose from NY

    Calling us a country of cowards is a very divisive statement. What an odd first statement to the people of our country. I am puzzled how this furthers race relations in a positive way.

    As our Attorney General, I would hope Mr. Holder uses better judgment in the future.

    February 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  31. Bruce Hoff

    I am German-American and my wife is Irish-American. Our ancestors were not brought here by force and treated as slave labor. However, neither of our ancestors was involved with slavery. They did have to slowly migrate into the social fabric and faced discrimination as they did.
    I was born and raised in the South and my wife was born and raised in the North. However, neither of our families raised us to discriminate against anyone. Though, we did grow up in a discriminating society.
    The Civil War brought about legislation that declared freedom for all Americans, but failed to teach anyone how. Women did not gain equality until much later and that is still a work in progress. The treatment of child birth and pregnancy didn’t take root along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it is still a work in progress.
    The way Africans were introduced to American was a travesty committed by a select group and there treatment since is not felt by all transplanted Americans. The treatment of Jews in Europe was a travesty committed by a select group and there treatment since is not felt by all Europeans. The treatment of the American Indians was at the hands of all of our transplanted ancestors and still felt by a few select Americans.
    The saying “the faster I go the behinder I get” applies to the racial tensions that DO still exist. We can not move towards a united America until everyone takes a deep breath, slows down and stops making statements that promote racial tension. We all need to take a broad view of who we are and what we need to do to live in harmony. If we can’t do it here, we sure can’t expect to promote it abroad. Another thought: why is it necessary to have a black spring break, a black bike week, etc. This line of thought broadens the gap between people. This is America, a beautiful mixture of cultures, races and religions. We are all Americans and not German-American, Irish-American, Cuban-Americans, etc. Remove the descriptive barriers that keep us separated.
    One thing for sure, we are all suffering economically and we are doing it as a nation of Americans. Reach out, help a neighbor and stop defining them. We will recover and we will do it because we are a nation of United Americans.

    February 20, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  32. Mike in NYC

    (So this is where it's at. Holder can call us cowards for not being open, and when one of us is truly open and honest, the gatekeepers at CNN shut him up. You "journalists" are a disgrace.)

    February 20, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  33. Roy

    I'd be more than willing to discuss race issues with Mr.Holder as long as he wouldn't call me RACIST when i voice my opinion. Thats the problem. If a discussion is set up, it's usually with sharpton, jackson or some loudmouth that has the ability to shout down a train horn. It's not a discussion it is a media event where another couple white people get labeled RACIST because they have been told they can voice something and then they are virtually edited to look the part. But then again I guess only white people can be racist. No one else can.

    February 20, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  34. J Greenwood

    I'm so angry. I just had to explain to my 15 year old son why anyone would connect a monkey with a black person. It took me about 15 minutes to force my mind to remember what the connection was!! Never in a million years would I have looked at that comic and thought it was a racial slur. Certainly most of my children's generation would have no idea – but they certainly do now, don't they?? There are people out there of a certain generation or who have a certain agenda who are trying to keep racism alive and shame on the media for given these devisive people free reign! This is NOT how most people in this great country feel – or we would not have elected such a promising young man for President (who just happens to be black).

    February 20, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  35. Sharon S

    Well I can only speak for myself but I have to say this, I have friends and Yes I said FRIENDS of many different colors and cultures, not just working buddies!

    I was taken aback by Mr Holder actually saying that most Americans just are social at work only with people of other races! I do not believe that because I have never been that way and I notice many others who not only hang out at work and lunch but off time and some of our best friends are of different races and cultures!

    I am not saying this does not go on of course it does there are many whites and many blacks and even hisspanics who don't like anyone of any other race but that does not mean most or all of our country is this way!!!

    I do think America has changed quite a bit over the years and I embrace and enjoy meeting people from other cultures there is so much to be learned from them, one reason I love to travel is to meet other cultures and learn about their lives!

    So I think Mr. Holder was a bit out of hand with his racist comments and I for one did not appreciate them and I think it is comments like his that keep the race war alive!

    I think if more people would stop talking about our differences and just speak to us all as a whole nation of individuals eventually but maybe not over night people would start to embrace us as a whole!

    I think these racist comments really need to stop is it Mr Holder who can't seem to move on? Because most of the people I know of all cultures never speak of these things and we just treat each other with respect as another human being, not a color!

    February 20, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  36. Carol Orticari

    Sorry, but this gentleman doesn't know me. A thirty year veteran teacher who always talks about race and similarities, and yes differences. His claims hurt those teachers like myslef who fight the good fight and it lambastes(sp) our students.. Yesterday as we discussed the comments of this light skinned black man who should know that color or lightness of skin creates challenges in the black community, one of my girls told me her black mother told her balck son, this gals' brother, he'd better not marry a black girl. He had better marry a white girl. Our politicians need to speak with real people, the kids in our schools and they will tell him like it is, not like what he imagines it to be, especially as a light skinned blcak man. he should no better. he's just manking Wall Street angrier.

    I totally dislike this white/black. light/dark stuff because it takes us away from our humanity, our similarities, and focuses on differences. Perhaps he should return to high school and read some good novels. I am sure the novels will introduce him to life as it is. A small mind sees differences, a great sees similarities. How small is this gentleman?

    Yes this race quandry exists and if you wonder about Wall Street, while I am not a fan of Ann, she does speak some interesting truths. When the white boys on Wall Street get off their race wagon, things in the economy will change. Cannot you see, the white boys who run the world are upset. Poor guys. They'll never get it right until they stop asking their moms to wash their clothes and make their beds.

    Sorry but silliness begets what it begets.

    February 20, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  37. Mike in NYC

    More of the usual party line.

    America certainly hasn't been "pussyfooting" around when it comes to assigning blame - it's always whitey's fault.

    To Kerckhove and her ideological compatriots, Whites will always be guilty, no matter what they do. “Celebrate diversity,” and you’re guilty of not taking race seriously. You’re made to walk on eggshells through endless browbeating, and then are called cowardly because you don’t talk about race enough. Double binds are the name of the game.

    I welcome an open and honest discussion about race. Let's start with interracial crime, the vast majority of which is committed by non-whites against whites. The ignored epidemic. What are we going to do about it?

    Or the almost 80% illegitimacy rate among blacks. You can't blame that on whites. Let's talk about that, too.

    Or "hate" crime hoaxes. There seem to be a lot of those. We’ve got to deal with it.

    Let's go.

    February 20, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  38. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    Race was never an issue in my home as I grew up. I found it appalling that people would wast their time, hating. I believe understanding nullifies hatred. Yes, discussion should take place openingly...I suppose academia is the best starting place.

    February 20, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  39. Michael C. McHugh

    Holder was correct that we still have de facto segregation and exclusion in housing and education, and that people stopped talking about it a long time ago. It's still true that the most segregated time in America is Sunday morning, when people attend the church of their choice. There's a whole history of segregated religion in America that I'm sure this country cannot bear to look and–and worse, Christianity being twisted to support slavery, racism and segregation. No, no one will dare talk about anything like that on CNN or any other major media outlet.

    It's not surprising that many whites voted against Obama because he was black. The only surprising thing is that enough voted for him to make him president. Part of the reason was the failed economy, and part of it is just the fact that we're in a cyclical reform wave for the first time since the 1960s, and in that McCain could never have hoped to compete with Obama. He was too tied to the conservative base of his party, and most people are just sick of hearing from them and about them. They have to answers for the crisis we're in.

    Obama's election, though, does not change the fact that there's still a lot of racism just under the surface of the country. I've seen the Republicans appeal to it more than once with their Southern Strategy. Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes all used it. Recall Reagan's speech about states rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1980, or Willie Horton, or what Bush Junior did to McCain in the South Carolina primary.

    February 20, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  40. Desmond

    Mr holders' comments were exactly what this contry needs. People are so hell bent on being politically correct that we sometimes fail to push ourselves as a country. we all know that sometimes the truth, while it can make a person or situation better, can hurt. As proud as we are of our country we should have the integrity to accept constructive critisism and use it as fuel to do better as a nation

    February 20, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  41. Larry

    Blacks won't let whites talk about racism because they think that they are the only ones who understand what its like to be discriminated against. Blacks talk like they just escaped from a plantation. They see racism everywhere and blame all white people for their self-fulfilling prophecies.
    Why are there awards, tv stations, churches, schools, etc, just for black people?

    February 20, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  42. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    America is in denial on just about everything--changing the words doesn't change your intent--Holder!

    February 20, 2009 at 10:08 am |