July 6, 2011 12:37:00 PM
That statement quite often is used to illustrate how far we''ve come in technology, education and as a democracy.
But even in the year 2011, with our vast knowledge of the universe and its workings, there still are avenues in which we seem to have only taken baby steps.
It has been disheartening to read comments posted in response to a Sunday column, titled "The black and white elephant in the room."
The column called for people to stop playing "the race card" and also for people to be aware enough to acknowledge there is a racial divide.
If the number and passion of the comments beneath the column, at cdispatch.com is any indication, that divide is wide.
Resorting to terms like "us" and "them," online commenters demonstrated how polarized race relations are in this community.
"It''s just part of their folly," commenter roscoe p. coltrain wrote, making a blanket statement about black people who prefer the term African-American.
"I''ve never really understood their use of African-American as most are neither from Africa, nor do they seem to be American as everything they do or say is contrary to what most think of when they say American," the post continued.
ruserious??? responded with, "we call ourselves African Americans because that is where we originated from until YOU brought us over here to this land."
Judging from these comments, there is a divide and distrust between the black population and the white population here. It''s a dismaying state of affairs rooted in ignorance and lack of exposure to each other.
People, wake up. It''s not us and them. It''s us. We are in this together. Differences? Yes, plenty. Those differences, that diversity, should be a source of our strength, not a wedge that divides.
As individuals we can do more for race relations than any law, seminar or conference. Race relations are improved on the sidelines of children''s sports events, in schools and parks, at openings and concerts, anywhere people come together. Make an effort to reach across that divide. You might be surprised what you find.
For the rest of the week, our online poll questions will examine race relations. We hope it will offer us all an opportunity to do some introspection.
frank commented at 7/6/2011 2:33:00 PM:
And have no fear folks, if the fire dies down, the Dispatch will be quick to fan the flames...
sandallvr commented at 7/6/2011 2:38:00 PM:
Perhaps we might all benefit more if we thought first in terms of what we have in common rather than going right to the differences. We have alot more in common than many on either side of the issue would think. Small minds hold us all back.
I will share this with the readers as a personal experience. I served in the Army and the Army National Guard, not the Mississippi National Guard though. I commanded a battalion in the Guard. I chose my staff and my leaders based on best qualified. I empowered my soldiers and leaders. As a result I had an effective organization which also happened to be extremely diversified. Soldiers wanted to be in my battalion. I carried an excess in strength. I had no Inspector General or Equal Opportunity complaints or major disciplinary issues during my command. My battalion carried the brigade on diversification statistics. The soldiers were well trained and motivated. Members of the unit were selected to deploy overseas in support of operations. The outcome of all this; to have the battlion inspected and labeled by the State HQs as a "potential" hotbed for racial, ethnic, and gender discord. Small minds.
sheatherly commented at 7/6/2011 4:06:00 PM:
When a group controls power, whether black or white, and their main aim is to maintain power by surrounding themselves with or
hiring/promoting/rewarding "friends and supporters", then there becomes an obvious division, sometimes along racial lines, but FOR SURE among the managers and employees .."Who is in? and Who is out?" In the extreme, this power imbalance becomes obvious and trickles down to the lowest position and negatively impacts the effectiveness and morale of the whole organization. ..for to survive in a functional role, the employees' only choice is to support the existing power machine.
When this situation has gone unchecked for a long period of time, the actions of those in power become more blatant in their ability to make decisions that show favortism to the existing group...or to get away with behaviors that should warrant reprimand. It becomes so blatant and highly discussed that the facts are widely known, yet employees are afraid to speak up to outsiders for fear of losing their employment.
In any organization where this situation exists, the ones who suffer most are those for whom the organization was established. The ones who are there to BE served will not receive the highest quality of service, for many who were hired or promoted to serve them were not employed based on who was best qualified but rather, who was the best supporter.
This is what concerns me about Dr. Liddell's technique. ..If she does become the appointed superintendent, what will then be her treatment of any CMSD employees who have shown strong active support of her bid vs. those who did not? There are always employees who try to "get in good with the boss" in every work scenario. Some people make it their main aim as their primary work ethic, but they are not usually the employees with the highest work ethic. Isn't Dr. Liddell's methods just encouraging this division from the start of her possible term?
And referring back to an organization's main aim being "power politics oriented" along racial or other lines...if the majority of the deciding board is also of this mindset...then they are as much of the problem as hiring the wrong person would be.
The best research the CMSD board or even the hired firm could
undertake would be to poll the CMSD employees in a widespread
anonymous information-gathering process encouraging honest
communication about race relations and the MAIN blocks in the ability to educate students ..and then USE that information to make REAL and
POSITIVE changes. But, that would take SOMEONE initiating the process
who CARES, first and foremost, about positive change being the MAIN
objective. I know for a fact that the CMSD school board has received information that should warrant action on their part. If they refuse to address the known issues or appoint someone who will, then maybe replacing THEM should be the main focus of this community...for the achievement of CMSD students has been suffering for a long time now.
zenreaper commented at 7/6/2011 5:21:00 PM:
I do not know how to address the problems amongst the white community here in Columbus, in regards to race relations. I say this even though I am white. I have never SEEN some of the stuff that goes on here. I can say that those white folks who are on the fence, or not sure how to respond or react, are pushed in the racist direction when they see black leaders such as Jackson and Sharpton talk about EVERYTHING in racial terms. Consider this, if someone calls you a racist long enough, you will begin to think in those terms.
So as a white person, I ask this of the black community. If you think I hate you, or dislike you, before you think I am a racist, consider if maybe you are just a jerk.
friendofafriend commented at 7/6/2011 5:58:00 PM:
Really guys? You're basing the state of race relations in Columbus on what somebody writes in anonymous online unmoderated comment sections? Maybe you guys should look up what a "troll" is in internet lingo.
djturner commented at 7/6/2011 11:09:00 PM:
Please. Nothing goes on here in Columbus that does not go on anywhere else in the world. I was born & raised in Toledo, Ohio & have been to Chicago, San Antonio, New Jersey, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, several towns in Michigan & even places like Windsor & Toronto Canada, Korea, Japan & the even Abu Dahbi. And I can tell you that nothing is any different here than it is in the rest of the world. And that is right from the horse's mouth who has been there & seen it. If anything race relations are MORE relaxed here than they are in the North or overseas, but most Columbus residents would not know that since 95% of native Columbians have not been outside of Mississippi!
thinkingaboutit commented at 7/7/2011 9:02:00 AM:
Before anyone is considered for any leadership position the questions should always be asked What is the problem, what is your plan, what is your vision, and how are you going to make that happen? Will their vision, plan and implementation strategies be in line with what the City wants? Can you not only lead can you make a change? and guess what you dont have to black white or other to make this difference. Why would you prevent the City from having the best because of race. You will only be short changing yourself when this happens. We are a community and we need to act like a whole. improvements dont happen when you ignore one aspect in order better the other. You have to have balance or the results of it will hurt us all. You need someone at the table who is going to bring it. So whats your plan? How can you take us there?
hope commented at 7/7/2011 6:21:00 PM:
@frank;give the Dispatch a break! It could be owned by Rupert Murdoch and we wouldn't have a newspaper. Hopefully, FOX will be next.
whatmatters? commented at 7/8/2011 2:20:00 AM:
The "us" and "them" creates segregation among people. We have divided ourselves! Whose fault is that? Race is something that is seen by the individual until it becomes a problem in the public (what year is this again?). It is obvious that there is a serious problem in the Columbus School District. These comments have been going on for quite a while on this webpage. What better resource to use other than a public domain that voices the peoples thoughts, opinions, and insight. There is a common sense of corruption in our school system. If I was the "top dog", I would disband this system. Start over and clean up this mess! *MESS
whatmatters? commented at 7/8/2011 2:25:00 AM:
DJ Turner, I believe your comment to be nothing less than true. Does this mean we should ignore it because it happens everywhere else? Should we say, "this is just how it is." and move on?? Your insight is nothing more than just a random rhetorical comment. You are not apart of the solution... so what are you? A
djturner commented at 7/8/2011 10:45:00 AM:
Perhaps I should have made myself my more clear. My point is not to ignore it, but rather stop focusing on it & move on. This "divide" is not a Columbus thing, nor is it a Mississippi thing. It is an everywhere thing. And I myself do not believe it has anything to do with race, but rather how you conduct yourself. For example, I am a white person, but go to a black church where I am fully accepted & I fully accept everyone there. We are like brothers & sisters despite the various shades of our skin (I am white, some are light skinned blacks, some dark skinned, etc.) But if you act like trash then yes, people will distance themselves from you & a divide will be created, no matter what your race. If black people want to see this divide eliminated, than they must conduct themselves in a civil manner (many do, but many don't, especially the younger people) & get those around them to do so as well. And if they dropped the attitude of entitlement, they would help also. And this applies to white people as well.
dogman commented at 7/11/2011 11:07:00 AM:
i think that if makes more you treat people like you want to be treated things work out
history is over do not dewell on it, it will not change what happened
s it sells papers
people keep bring the pass up and it makes people mad
i guess it sells to stir up people
1. Our view: City's policies are an insult to the people DISPATCH EDITORIALS
2. Lynn Spruill: Maggie's journey LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Voice of the people: Cameron Triplett LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
4. Kathleen Parker: The new SAT don't care 'bout no fancy words NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Birney Imes: On the road with Louie and Sprocket LOCAL COLUMNS