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February 20th, 2009
11:55 PM ET

The racial divide vs. the generation gap

Eric Holder spoke to an overflowing crowd for Black History Month at the Justice Department Wednesday.

Eric Holder spoke to an overflowing crowd for Black History Month at the Justice Department Wednesday.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Are we cowards for not talking more about race?

Attorney General Eric Holder says that is exactly what Americans are for not directly engaging in that thorny issue. His statement has raised a lot of eyebrows from people of all colors, especially considering Holder is the first African-American to hold that position while Barack Obama, just one month ago, became the nation’s first black president.

For many Americans – black, white and otherwise – these are signs of extraordinary progress and it hardly seems the time to be putting on a fresh hair shirt over this issue. There is, after all, that whole economy business. One could argue that the only color we should be worried about at the moment is green.

Holder is certainly right, however, when he says that we remain a largely segregated society. Despite decades of cheerful talk about better days coming, the vast number of our communities tend to be largely monochrome. Sure, you can find places where brave racial explorers have established outposts in neighborhoods where almost everyone else is a different color; you can even find some areas with dazzling mixes of ethnicities, religions, ages, and political views; but towns like that remain rare compared to the size of the country’s population.

Still, despite our bird-like tendency to flock by the feather, the attorney general may be overlooking some important signs of racial progress because of his age.

Holder was born in 1951. I was born eight years later. We’ve both been around long enough to have witnessed some of what sure-enough segregation was about: teachers telling white children to stay away from black children, racial fights raging at bus stops, restaurants where only whites were welcome, older white people openly disparaging black people and the list goes on. It is little wonder the subject remains raw for people over forty.

But younger Americans are a different story. A study by New York’s Hamilton College some years ago found that people born after the civil rights struggle of the 1960’s (which is to say ‘born into a country free of formal racial barriers’) view race in far more relaxed and accepting terms than their parents. Most favored the idea of multi-cultural teaching to reduce racial misconceptions. More than 70 percent said they would consider dating someone of a different race. Almost half said if they adopted a child, the race would not matter. All of that is undeniable progress.

To be sure, America still has real racial problems. The recent history of our prisons, our courts, our politics and social structure all say the Attorney General has a point. But for many younger Americans the change of heart he is after may already be old news.

soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. honoria lamb

    When Erich Holder spoke about cowards he spoke to me and my family.I am insulted. He owes this nation an apology.He owes my son who fought to keep this country free an apology.He owes my husband who served in the United States Marine Corps an apology.
    We are a biracial family and we have no problems discussing the racial challenges in this world.I hope that the racial gains we have made in the last hundred years will not be ruined by this administration and that they are not compromiseing the security of our country. We are a strong and proud nation .

    February 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  2. Olorunbunmi--California

    Does it really matter that he's the attorney general and said these things? The fact is that he's right! Granted, I think the term "coward" was a little harsh, but as a 21 year old young woman at a private university, I see de facto segregation EVERYWHERE!!!!! Most people, of ALL ETHNICITIES, only associate with people of their same ethnicity. Koreans hang out with Koreans, Latinos hang out with Latinos, African Americans hang out with African Americas, and Caucasian Americans hang out with Caucasian Americans. It's true and its sad. And the things people say in my classes are APPALLING–and this is what they really think of particular ethnic groups. We can only move past racism in this country if we CONFRONT it head on. And we're always trying to sweep it under the rug so quickly that we don't deal with it.

    Maybe if we did talk about it, open up to one another, etc. maybe we would get somewhere.

    February 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  3. Melissa

    As a Canadian living in the US, I really have a hard time understanding the complete obsession people have with "race".

    Why is this even an issue at all? Everyone needs to stop obsessing over their differences. On BOTH sides.

    I could care less what the color of your skin is, I care what your behavior is.

    February 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  4. JIM FALLBROOK CA

    This is what I believe our socialist president Barack Hussein Obama meant whe he called for change. I have Eric Holder calling me a racist. He may have been right back in the 1950's. The blacks got even when the affirmative action program was implemented. Then they got preferential treatment. A current example of black racism is the city of Detroit. After the riots in 1967, it became a combat zone in 1970. There was no safe place to live. It has been know n as murder capitol of the world. The blame can only go to the likes of Eric Holder. They run the city and cannot blame the condition of it on racism. If they keep burning down buildings at the current rate, there won't be any left in 20 years. I am appalled that a official in high office would make such a statement. If I made that statement, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, ACLU and NAACP would file a lawsuit against me. Apparently they think that Eric Holder is one of them, they won't take any action. I have to admit that this would happend under Obama.

    February 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  5. Vicki

    The Black dominance takes precedence because of a practice that dates back to slavery called the "One Drop Rule" which basically states that any person who is born with just one drop of Black blood is considered Black.

    It is very interesting to me as a Black woman that when confronted with the issue of racism, White people (and I do acknowledge the generalization) tend to downplay or minimize the issue, which in turn, minimizes all of the experiences and feelings that Black have experienced. It's as if to say, because I have never experienced it, it doesn't exist. Or they get defensive – which usually is a cover for guilt feelings. And to respond to Larry, all of the tv stations, awards shows, and magazines because for more than 150 years, Blacks were not represented or accepted in mainstream society or media, so we had to develop our own so that our young boys and girls and men and women could have positive images that reflected their own unique heritage. Pick up a Vogue or GQ – how many Blacks do you see on the pages even in the year 2009?!

    And granted, racism exists on both sides. But I agree 110% with AG Holder that an open and truthful dialogue about race needs to occur. Because even though Blacks are making stride in mainstream society, we are by no means "there" yet. If we were, such a big deal would not be made of the first Black President or the first Black Attorney General. No one would blink an eye, just like they don't when another White man or woman is elected or appointed to one of those positions.

    February 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  6. Will

    I was born in 1975. In high school I remember walking with two of my friends, one was black, one was Greek, and we were discussing peer pressure. I noticed that one of us was wearing black jeans as opposed to blue jeans and I satirically said something about how he was dumb because he was wearing black jeans.

    I remember this because almost immediately I realized that he was black and was worried that he might take offence to my comment (he didn’t). I also remember this because the first thing I could think of to differentiate us was the color of our jeans as opposed to the color of our skin.

    Between young people race is more of a historical issue, however a few of my friends have gotten a “you people” comment from older people which shows that it is still relevant to young people.

    I wonder what there is to talk about, and if talking about it just brings up historical grievances or actually improves our lives on a day to day basis?

    February 20, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  7. Staunch Democrat

    Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia & Others Who Want To Know:

    The reason why the President race is more dominant to Black, than his White heritage and why he is referred to as the First African American President and not Bi-racial is because of the following:

    1. Without a picture of his mother, sister or maternal grandparents, and if his name were Barry Dunham, he would visually viewed as just another light-skinned Black man.

    2. The fore-fathers who consensually and non-consensually had relations with their Black slaves and bore light-skinned children, shunned them by enacting the 1/5th person law and 1/8th Black blood law to keep them from acknowleding or defining themselves as White, in order to receive full rights under the Constitution.

    Now, those fractions are no longer in existance, but because they were upheld for so long, and still to this day a large number of White families do reject interracing and the children from those relationships and Blacks received those mixed children into the fold, as they have always done when female slaves bore children from their master. So old habits are hard to die.

    February 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  8. EP Sato in DC

    I feel that much of the division in America has to do with class. Don't get me wrong. Race remains a barrier, but IMHO, most whites will very willingly accept a middle class and well educated person of color as one of "their own". As fear of the cities has decreased, there's been a large number of whites who've left the suburbs and have moved back into places like Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC. Back in the 1980s, many of these same people would have avoided the city like the plague.

    Having grown up a minority in the largely middle class predominately white and well educated city of Madison, Wisconsin, I remember knowing a lot of white kids who had black friends or who dated "outside" of their race. Many of my biracial friends had parents who'd moved to Madison because it was a city so accepting of diversity.

    Yet many of these same white people would take issue with Blacks and Latinos who came from the city's economically depressed south side, or with the somewhat large ethnic Hmong community that resided in public housing.

    I live in DC now and have noticed similar trends. While my condo building has many Black, Asian, Latino and gay resident owners, we're almost all exclusively from relatively well to do backgrounds and are mostly well educated. The demographic is similar to the white people who live in my building, who I've noticed also tend to be from cities that successfully rebounded from the eras of white flight (Seattle, Portland, Chicago, NYC, etc) .

    Contrast that with the parts of DC that are still majority African American. A perception persists that these areas are somehow "poor" and "crime infested". While this is true of some of the more economically depressed areas, the perception ignores the fact that DC has a massive Black middle class and that much of this community has opted to create middle class Black neighborhoods. Places like Hillcrest in Ward 8 stand in contrast of the concept of all black neighborhoods being for poor people. Even within the Black community itself there seems to be a division among class lines.

    As a country, we've moved forward significantly since even the 1980s. Watching a show like "Madmen" reminds me of how far America has come since even the civil rights era and that was only 45 years ago.

    As far as we've come since the end of Jim Crowe and before that slavery is as far as you can assume we'll be in another 50 years. Someday, what constitutes an "American" will be expanded to include Blacks, Latinos, Asians and pretty much anyone who wants to call themselves an American. I look forward to that day, as it will be a sign that we have again made further strides to form a more perfect union.

    February 20, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  9. Kristin

    I honestly think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. As a high school teacher, I teach in a smaller town with an African American population of less that 10%. I find that my students have knowledge of the Jim Crow era and a generalized shock and horror that it was ever quite so bad. In personal interactions, they all seemingly get along fine. Plenty of interracial friendships and relationships exist. But, there is still a separation that is tangible, and perhaps it is this that we are too cowardly to discuss. We like to think that we've moved completely beyond racism, but we forget the latent and unspoken racisms that exist on both sides of this black/white aisle. The African American community is very tightly bound, and a certain degree of self-segregation occurs. Some black students overreact to any comment that could possibly be taken as racist. They automatically want to fight and don't understand when I try to tell them that these overreactions and violent behavior only serve to exacerbate the issues. Of course I don't condone racist behavior and deal accordingly with students who truly exhibit it, but there are numerous times that I've experienced serious over-reaction to things. And, there are students who are white who do still hold racist views. Surely and completely. But a lot on both sides are really unwilling to truly discuss the issues at hand. Many white students have no idea about the latent racism that prevents African Americans from getting jobs or other opportunities. They don't see the constant issues that they face and they think racism issues are smaller than they are. Some parts of the black community, though, truly act as if all white people are enemies and make any issue a race issue, rather than addressing the true issues. Overall, basically, I see that there ARE still many issues that need honest discussion. Honest discussion that can occur with cool heads and open minds. Simply assuming that Obama's election suddenly makes all race issues goes away is silly. We still have a long way to go.

    February 20, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  10. Political girl

    Attorney Gen. Holdler used harsh language, but his message ranged true, even after reconstruction we're a nation divided. Yes we've come along way, but have a long way to go. President Obama is the perfect place to start. We elected the first Black man to the white house, yet prominent publications, depicks him as a chimp. Let's hope we can on day see, we're all in this together, black, white, brown, we're Americans first.

    Political girl (Atlanta Ga.)

    February 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  11. Lois Moseley

    I listen everyday to your program, and have never heard anyone comment on Oil, and natural gas drilling. I am from Texas, and rigs are shutting down right and left. We have to drive our cars everyday until battery-powered cars can be bought. What can you comment about this?

    February 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  12. Larry L.

    Holder is an unappreciative black man who thinks we need to go back in time and boldly and bravely demean each other again in public .

    February 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  13. Kerry

    I find it amazing that so many news organizations and their commentators. Especially FOX NEWS. Finds it hard to call Pres Obama. Pres Obama. Instead they call him Barack Obama. But in the same breath they call George Bush. Pres Bush. Please for goodness sake show the man some respect

    February 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  14. Staunch Democrat

    Larry,

    Are you blind?

    Whites still have dominiance in the media, workplace and in politics. But i guess to you 1 minority is 1 too many.

    ABC, NBC, CBS, BET (Yes BET Owned by Whites-Viacom!) are White owned. Then count the number of Black or minority cast on each of those stations and compare it to the number of Whites, Then count the number of blacks or any minority who have one the top award for the Oscars and Miss America and including the President, since its existence and tell me if its evenly split. Then and only then will I think you have a point.

    I mean just because the title doesn't say "Whites Only" doesn't mean that they really want it that way....all they have to do systematically, not to cast Blacks on their shows.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  15. Alan Lai

    Speaking from the point of view of the "younger generation," I do not think that the reason why we are not talking about racism is that we are cowards, but rather the topic is no longer relevant. Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay area, I had chances to interact with people from all over the world, my experiences in college has only widen the number of countries where my friends and colleagues comes from. Through these experiences, I have never seen race being a factor for anyone's performance while in school or the work place. Today where social networking over the internet is prevalent, race has become even less relevant because all you know about the person on the other side of the computer screen when you meet them is their screen name. To us that grew up in the post civil rights era, what racism we do see today seems like the dying embers of a bygone era.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  16. Wesley

    To Larry:
    "Do white americans have awards, tv stations, churches that are for white people only? "

    TV stations: NBC, CBS, ABC, WB. There as many black people on shows on those networks as there are white people on BET shows. If there's a discrepancy it's because there is only ONE black network and multiple white ones.

    Churches: Are you serious?

    Awards: That's the only one you win on.

    Number one, none of these things are so much "for blacks only". Rather, when growing up in a culture in which you are the minority, and everything you are taught teaches you that the majority is superior, you need to find ways to love yourself and support yourself.

    If you grew up being bullied everyday by a group of boys, and then finally had something they might want, would you expect the bullies to say "Oh, Larry wants to hang by himself but if we wanted to hang by ourselves, we'd be the bad guys"? No. You'd understand that Larry wants to be alone because all you've done is make him feel like a loser. Why is it different when race is involved?

    In order for the bullied child to be more outgoing to the bullies, it would be up to the bullies to extend the olive branch – not the bullied. You want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to control the world AND be loved by everyone in it. It doesn't work that way. The nation's made a lot of progress, but there's always more to go...

    February 20, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  17. cynthia

    I absolutely found his speech concerning "a nation of cowards" very straight forward and found nothing wrong with it; however, the timing was offset considering all the racist issues and the fact that he just taken his oath for the seat and 'barely' received it. It opened the door for one to say what they feel and now let us get on with the other issues at hand; war with Afghanistan, our borders, nominations, stimulus on the state levels, etc . I watched the "Hardball" segment with Pat Buchanan and Georgetown Professor, Dr. Dyson. Does Pat Buchanan want an award for speaking out for others who won't?

    February 20, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  18. Memphis, TN

    The nerve of Eric Holder, America's first African-American Attorney General, to call our country a bunch of cowards on the issue of race both appaling and comedic at the same time. I think Mr. Cooper summed it up best with his analysis of the time in history in which people were born affecting their outlook on people of different race. The reason why people do or do not make relationships is often based on some common interest. Work, school, sports, and hobbies have helped race relations greatly but most people have a niche, and in the real world its much easier to stick to that place than to reach out, especially at an older age, and venture into someone elses interests.

    Its very saddening to see someone in such a powerful position greatly simplify the complex nature of society into summing people up as cowards for not adressing an issue that really is a non-issue. For most young people, race doesn't even come up with most people unless its used to describe someones appearance. With older generations it seems like the terms black and white are mentioned as an insult coming from the opposite race.

    I really do wonder how politics work when people like this can be shoved into office. Spending your days in anticipation of the opportunity to to give such a frivilous speech that leads nowhere and acoomplishes nothing seems like the last thing an attorney general would focus on. Take some advice from Obama, Holder, and stop bringing these same old tired ideas to the table thinking you are going to make a change.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  19. Anthony Garcia

    Not to underscore what this column is about, I believe Eric Holder could have put it in better terms because anytime you call anyone a coward , you will not get the response that help.

    So there are still some barriers that need to be broken, but I for one believe it needs to be done but not all over the news all the time. Let not for the News doesn’t really help in these matters.

    As a country i would love to just move and tackle the many more important issue facing our country like the world economy. (Not just ours, when we fail they all fail)The United States is guilty of this major collapse, not every single person but we are destroying ourselves from the inside) Our Military is beat-up and worn out but we must have them for another 5-6 years giving up their blood in these failed wars. we have international tensions what were really fired up during the Bush semi-fascism presidency) Now more than ever we need to look out for out fellow citizen because it doesn’t matter who you are right now, white, black, Mexican, Japanese this crisis is hitting us all. And we need our attention to be on this, because our government can’t do it alone.

    The is still going to be discrimination in this country but it is our duty for the fellow citizen when we see our friends, our family, or stranger openly say or do things that are against some for any purpose based on religious, color, nationality, or anything that we tell these people we know or don’t know. "THIS WILL NOT BE TOLORATED, TO THEIR FACE THE MOMENT THEY DO THESE ACTIONS". And to me the people that turn the blind eye are worst than the one committing the crime.

    Thank You,

    February 20, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  20. charles

    To Larry,
    To answer your question, white America is America of today. Yes they do have Churches, TV stations, Awards etc. Whenever I watch the grammys, CBS, NBC, ABC and see Kenneth Hagin or those other gospel shows on TBN, I see that it's mainly white folks being displayed. The key difference is that blacks and minorities in general are very overt about their racial procilvities, while whites aren't.

    I disagree with the tone Mr holder used. america has made a lot of advancements compared to a lot of other countries, when it comes to race, however thereis still a lot of work to do. Callin the nation a bunch of cowards is inappropriate. At least we've had an continue ot have a dialog on race. Most other countries don't.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  21. J. Rogers from Regina, SK

    Don't ask someone in their twenties about race, because they will look bewildered or ask you about ethnic middle-easterners or, if you live in parts of the west, American Indians. The favour of the month that you are expected to be bigoted about is Islam and Arabs. Generation X (Y?, Z?) aren't afraid of ethic Chinese, Mexicans or Africans because their fears were born and nurtured on 9/11 and the Iraq war. And fear is the base for most bigotry, as your President Obama pointed out in his story about his grandmother. As Eric Holder asks young people for help with his computer, he shouldn't be afraid to ask the young about their opinions on race. It's a generational thing.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  22. kaz

    He is a racist. He was totally wrong by saying what he did. If they are going to be playing the race card everytime they get up to the podium
    we are in big trouble and are going backwards. Also, Clayburn from south Carolina called the White Governors that were against the Stimulus racist because they have large black poor populations in their states. Here we go !!!!!!!!!!!

    February 20, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  23. Bill

    We are not cowards for not talking about a lot of issues. We live in a world of limited energy (following the rules of physics), including personal energy.

    If we decide not to expend personal energy on specific issues then it is either by choice or necessity. We cannot be hypervigilant and succeed or survive.

    Let's talk about university scams and how, for-profit universities spend taxpayers' dollars. And in terms of race issues, what percentage of those for-profit university students are minorities.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  24. Eric

    This is to the first commentor, Larry. I hear that argument all of the time. Yes, African Americans have these things, however, African American award shows, the NAACP, black tv stations etc, were born out of a time when African Americans were shut out of the mainstream. There will be a time when these things are not needed, very soon I anticipate. However, our nation has not reached the promise land yet. Let's face it the TV (even though not label as such) use to be white tv, and so on. While moving forward we must not dwell in the past, but we shouldn't forget it either. Especially when the civil rights movement ended less that 50 years ago.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  25. Mand

    There is plenty of racism in America today despite the fact that plenty of progress has been made over the years. I see white hypocracy manifest its ugly head everyday and everywhere. In sports, and in the continuous segregation of school in this country. Well white kids go to better equipped and higher funded schools in the Suburbs, black and latino kids go to run-down inner city schools that are failing in record numbers. Is this fair and equal? Cops abusing blacks in white cities and the colorfulness of the justice system use in silencing blacks is not an illusion people.
    Anyone who oppose healthcare, childcare, good schools and secured neighborhoods for poor people is equally guilty of racism. Most poor people are blacks, latinos and immigrant, and there is no equal opportunity in this country. Period.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  26. Marilyn

    I find it disturbing that the only ones bringing up racial issues and making racial references regarding any and everything these days is the black man. "Cowards" you say! I call it "Kicking a dead horse". Slavery has been over for a long time and it is a part of history that every child in America learns about in school. We are all very much aware of the atrocities committed by the white man and others I might add during a very dark time in American history but to keep stirring this melting pot is keeping racism alive and well. The only one to dictate that a soul should suffer an eternity for any crime committed against man is the Good Lord himself. Not the black man or the white man or any other race. The white man was involved in voting in the new President Obama too remember. So, I think the white man has moved on and is letting go of the hatred and racism. We have paid long enough so brotha to brotha let it go for Christ's sake as well as the sake of this country.

    February 20, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  27. KAREN

    I feel Eric Holder should of never said what he did ,people are people no matter what coler skin they have we came along way sence slavery days ,my husband was bi-racial,are kids are to ,but are chief law enforcement of the us seems to have some hang ups ,he lost my vote.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  28. Heather,ca

    I could never understand why anyone would hate or dislike or prejudge someone because of the color of their skin. I also dont understand why I am hated and disliked and prejudged because Im Jewish. We all are human and different. But we all live on the same planet. If someone dislikes my personality or because of something I have done,fine. Not because of my culture or religion or because of the color of my skin. Its really superficial when you think about it. I think there are people out there who dont realize or know that there is more to life than their own little world that they live. We are not a nation of cowards. We are a growing nation that has a long way to go. I wish we had come full circle but we havent. I dont understand the mind set or the way of thinking that makes one person view others as bad when the only difference is appearance. I cant wrap my mind around that. I just know we are all different and thats life. We have to stop focusing on race and live our lives with the highest levels of conduct and behavior and make it known that only the highest standards are acceptable. Get over how someone looks and live life.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  29. Ann Carr

    Funny. It appears to me that the subsequent "outrage" over Holder's comment is case in point - lots of righteous lobbing of fixed positions around about who's right and who's wrong versus a conversation meant to widen understanding and perspective. I happen to agree with his perspective, though my "position" on the matter has no materiality. More valid is the proof is in current pudding.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  30. James

    We all know that we sit in our living rooms at night complaining about how we wish we had someone in office that would state the truth and be completely open with us – well, helloooooo – The Attorney General did just that by stating a grim reality that exist in this country. Racism is something that we do not talk about very much in this country – in terms of actually solving it. Mostly, we all complain about it and advance nothing to solve it. I am proud of what the Attorney General said and more people in all levels of government should do just as the Attorney General. Fact is – as humans and peoples of different colors – we naturally separate ourselves into racial factions because of our comon relation with one another racially and for this we can not help that natural occurence. However, as civilized society we learn to adapt, as well as overcome this natural shift to separate racial factions.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  31. Genius

    Larry – Yes, white americans have awards, tv stations, churches that are for white people "only"? BET, Essence, Howard University – these "Black only" institutions are far more diverse than your favorite network, magazine, or univerisity. Get a reality check, we live in a diverse yet mostly segregated world.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  32. Tired of it ALL

    I was born in the 1970s, and prior to this election, I never saw people as black or white or brown. I saw people. The media has managed to polarize this nation into color groups, and unfortunately the new AG is only making it worse. No longer do I see people, I see people's skin. And that, isn't making things better at all.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  33. Kevin

    Commenter Larry wrote "Do white americans have awards, tv stations, churches that are for white people only? IE, BET, Essence, etc?" yes they do Larry! Churches are the most segregated places in the country, can you name me one show on three major networks that has a black or latino in a starring role and you can't be so ignorant as to ignore the fact that BET and Essence came about because TV and magazines were ignoring blacks in their coverage. Larry , you bring up the Oscars and ask what if they were for Whites only, well they almost are. Since the Oscars started in 1929 only 12 Blacks have received the award for acting, and this is the reason blacks came together to honor their own. No one is doubting the fact that racial prejudice is not as forthright as it once was, and it is great that Obama won so that my kids can see someone who looks like them in the highest office in the land but there still needs to be frank discussions about race because people like Larry seem blind to struggle both in the past and those still going on.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  34. Bev C.

    I am so sick of the whining going on about race. Yes, there was great racial strife in the past. I agree with the likes of Bill Cosby – he tells it like it is to the black community. Stop blaming whites for your problems. What blacks do with their life is THEIR responsibility – not the white community's. As said above, whites don't have their own magazines, radio stations, TV stations. If you get an education (and now you get funding if you're a minority (not white)), you can do anything you want, red, white, black or blue. You don't get things handed to you. My family hasn't and we are as needy as anyone else but, because we're white, we don't get the extra perks minorities do. This is 2009, not 1940.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  35. Joy

    Comment for Michael Lorton "now if your father was African and your mother was white-which to me is bi-racial-then why does the black dominace take presedence?" First of all, I am black and I have a bi-racial child. The father is Caucasian, therefore our child is white, but bi-racial. Why! Because my embryo was fertilize with his sperm. Which scienitic mean without his sperm or any mans' sperm an embryo can't become fertilized. Conculsion you are what your father gentic genes say your are. It is also biblical noted that the human man is the head of any household not the human woman. Therefore, everychild should take the last name of his or her father ,not mother.
    For the record we get criticized from all races.

    Our love for the human life regardless of errors, looks, hardships, and disagreements allows us to love each other and others. Love your neighbors "humans" as thy love yourself "human". This is how we as human being will, can, and should overcome the evil that is all ways lurking in dark places.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  36. Jan

    I'm really tired of the lopsided coverage racism get vs. sexism. From everything I've lived through and observed, sexism is a much more common problem in this country. The media goes into a feeding frenzy every time they think they detect a hint of racism. However, they not only ignore sexism, they particapate in it (case in point, the treatment Hillary Clinton got during the campaign).
    We just observed a national holiday (rightly so) in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. How many Americans even know the names of the women who got half of the population in this country the vote? Why isn't the 70 + cents a woman earns for every dollar a man earns doing the same job worthy of discussion? I could go on, as could every other woman who's spent any time in the workplace, but hopefully you've got my point.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  37. MAR

    Eric holder comments will be correct for Blacks for the forseeaqble future, as black people sees everything as either black or white.
    As a foreign born man it is incoseivable to believe that the black population blames everyone for their problem. They are always trying to get ahead on someone's elses effort.

    In the 1960's the great society programs created by the Democratic Party was intended to break up the family unit of the inner city. I think it succedded beyound their wildest imigination. The inner cities are poor because the public school structure and the family structure have brolken down. Until the people of inner cities realizes that their biggest downfall is the Democratic Party, because it forces groupism unto them, they will continue to wait for handouts and blame race relations for everything.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  38. triana

    Racism still exist, however, it sometimes exist when African-Americans make it an issue or when you see cartoon images from the newspapers. Its on the minds of everyone, some talk about it at home and some in the public view. But regardless, a discussion needs to take place. Until that discussion takes place, we can not move forward honestly. It does not matter how much pigmentation you have in your skin, we still put our pants on one leg at a time.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  39. JoAnne

    I always thought I had no racial intolerance until the early 1980's when my youngest daughter married a Jamacian. I found that I was very uncomfortable with my friends in telling them about the relationship.

    Today at 77 years of age, I have 2 wonderful mixed families that has given me 3 exceptional grandchildren and I strongly agree with AG Holder – we need more open conversations and experiences to enrich as a people!

    February 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  40. hugo saldias

    Lots of people are asking one simple question.
    WHEN?
    I am tired of listening to the same thing but with no news regarding
    WHEN the USD on the STIMULUS will be awarded to the citizens.
    1.Tax cuts:IWhen they will start?
    2.Single and Copules get 400 USD,etc,WHEN?
    3.Millions of people that get benefits under SSA(Veterans,Disabled,
    Pensions,etc) they may get 250 USD,not clear but WHEN??
    WHEN is what matters to the American People because they want
    to know WHEN extra USD will come to their pockets.
    In my particular case I an waiting to buy me the HD TV. But when could
    I do it?All news broadcasts avaoid telling when?
    May be because the information is not available?
    I do not know but PLEASE if it is,tell the public.
    Or when you know,give details because not everybody in these
    groups or categories will be awarded the funds at the same time...
    Thanks and regards
    Hugo Saldias
    Denver,Co.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  41. Post 60's Child

    I am a post 60's child; however, I do still see the affects of racism. While the racism of today is not as "in your face" as it used to be, it still exists. It exists in the board room, the school room , the justice system and beyond. Instead of knowing exactly what you are up against, it is left to decipher what is really behind the smiling exterior. To this day, I still get questions about "what are you?" If we were beyond race, this would not be a question. We, as a nation, do need to sit down and talk – talk about the questions, the fears and the unknown. Once we do so, we can opefully eliminate some, if not most, of the fears of people who live their lives in ignorance. And that goes for ALL races.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  42. Dave

    This is such a frustrating thing because it seems like African Americans are the ones who, ironically, can't get over race. I'm only 23, and I am accepting of all races... but I cannot tolerate stupidity. Talking about race ALWAYS creates a racial wall of division. The old-timer racists will die off soon enough and my color-blind generation will put the nail in the racism coffin. Holder and those like him are creating the problem.

    If you were born prior to the 60's, you probably interpreted that last statement as being racist. (Psst that makes YOU racist.)

    February 20, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  43. jarrod

    i think that public officials have no business entertaning any racial issues in this case it his job to serve the public i beleive that from his comments i do not think he will be bias and should resign from the uproar of edgy cartoon and these comments from Eric Holder then along comes al sharpton....i am beginning to see why racism is still alive and since racism is a 2 way street i highly doubt it is going to get any better anytime soon..

    On another note the cartoon protest outside NY Post is another good example poor judgement in ending racism I beleive if the black community would have contacted the post and ask for a retraction before it turned into a major racial issue and allowed the posts time to make it right instead of going gun-ho just proves that there is no talking between whites and blacks

    February 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  44. SN in MN

    Until people of color learn to accept criticism and get a thicker skin, nothing will change. Whites have been subject to criticism and slander for 40-50 years now. There is no free speech in America when it comes to Whites opinions and grievances.

    February 20, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  45. Rose from NY

    Mr. Foreman, I agree with you this is a generational issue. The subject of race is a non-issue in my children's generation. In large part, my voting age children and their peers, helped to elect President Obama.

    Mr. Holder picked an odd time to call us a country of cowards. He apparently harbors some residual anger that does not resonate with my children or their multi-racial friends.

    I am puzzled that the administration that promised hope and change would choose this particular time to make such a divisive comment.

    February 20, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  46. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    There maybe hidden truth in what Eric Holder said-–but as the Chief Law Enforcement of the US it was inappropriate from him to make such a public statement about "race." He has just stirred the"hornet's nest" again--Barack Obama, just one month ago, became the nation’s first black president--now if your father was African and your mother was white--which to me is bi-racial-then why does the black dominace take presedence? The nation has enough problems without having individuals adding more to the pot to stir.

    February 20, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  47. Von Thomas

    I watched the 360 segment on racism with Ron Chistie. I must say it is so frustrating to see a black man so out of touch. You have to wonder what is his agenda, or is he nuts. I believe that for the credibility of the program, you need to have contributors that at least understand the times we live in and understand history. Ron Christie is so far off, that it brings down the professional integrity of the show. I would have much rather see a racist white southerner in that seat, than a black man that is a goof, obviously raised in an all white conservative vacuum, and wants nothing more that to please and suck up to those he serves.

    Do have him back again!!!!!

    Von Thomas
    Los Angeles, Ca

    February 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  48. Cindy

    I do think that with racism and not talking about it and what not is a generational thing for sure. The older Americans who lived through that time of segregation are more apt to not want to talk about it to get things stirred up again. Where as the younger generations who know nothing of that time but through pics and videos do easily talk about it and are moving away from any racism at all.

    I just hope that in time we won't even have to have this discussion and can all just live happily together!

    Cindy...Ga.

    February 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  49. Larry

    Do white americans have awards, tv stations, churches that are for white people only? IE, BET, Essence, etc? African Americans are recipients of Oscars, Grammys, etc. if those awards were for whites only can you imagine the outcry from the elder statesman of the african-american community who still live in the sixties?
    Ask Mr. Holder how it feels to be the 1st African-American AG; would you get the same reply if the person asking the question is black or white?

    February 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
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