OUR VIEW: Ignorance a key factor in racism
An Editorial Opinion
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 14:01
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day right around the corner, now would be a good time to reflect on race relations in the U.S., specifically Utah, and whether or not King’s dream came true.
While African Americans make up 13 percent of the total U.S. population, they make up only 1.3 percent of Utah’s population, whereas Caucasians make up 91.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was humorously referenced on a 2009 episode of “The Colbert Report,” where Stephen Colbert interviewed Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and asked him, “Tell me about your black person. Is he nice?”
Wednesday, Preacher Moss said racism is made up of three things; arrogance, envy and iniquity.
It was mentioned in the story about the Black Student Union’s Martin Luther King Jr. tribute that vigil participants were from places like Las Vegas and Harlem — places much more racially diverse than Utah in general. They said the culture of Utah was uneducated about black history and culture and some students at USU would inadvertently say racist things without realizing it.
Some of the people on our editorial board are from outside of Utah and have seen this as well. It is subtle racism, but it’s there and often said unintentionally. Racism in the U.S. still occurs in even the most ethnically diverse regions of the country. It’s a national issue, but it’s especially an issue in Utah.
Yes, even in the allegedly judgement-free zone filled with righteous God-fearing people, racism exists, and it’s probably more common than you think.
USU students T.J. Pratt and Kathy Washington both said they have experienced subtle, sometimes inadvertent racism. Moss said a lot of the time people say things out of ignorance, which in our minds is only slightly better.
A student asked Moss what kinds of things people in Utah might be doing that could frame them as racists without knowing it. In short, he said people know what racism is and should follow their consciences.
It doesn’t take an expert to know racism is bad, but it may take an honest self inspection to recognize the racism in ourselves. We invite our readers to look inside themselves for signs of racism.
Here’s an obvious one: don’t think of someone in terms of ethnicity, think of that person as, well, who he or she is — without known or unrealized arrogance, envy or iniquity.
Color isn’t something we need to look past, it’s something we shouldn’t even be able to see.