Cal Trout column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Guest column by Cal Trout

Racial undertones hamstring community

I don’t get it. Race is an infinitely complex problem here, as well as everywhere else, I’m sure. But the hypocrisies run so deep on both sides, it seems we could all simply drop it and be better off.

Of course, it’s too profitable a sacred cow for that. On the one hand there are entitlements to be garnered and power to be gained. On the other, there are social structures and power to be preserved. There is political muscle to be flexed as well as policies enacted that can be profitably exploited.

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Earlier this year, a man who had done his job faithfully was quietly dismissed from his job after public outcry because allegedly four people thought they heard an infamous epithet come from his mouth over a static-laced intercom. The potentiality of this word cost him his job and he didn’t, according to an overwhelming majority of those in the school, even utter it. Meanwhile, the children of the people who raised the hell that cost him his livelihood shout (the “N” word) down the halls and in the classrooms of the high school daily.

Hypocrisy or irony? You decide.

All the while, in private, white racists cling to the term like it’s Christ blood dripping from the cross. And yet, teachers, students and staff (both black and white) work very hard to produce a prom that appeals to everyone in our diverse student body only to have half of them not participate in favor of going to the no-colored-people-allowed prom. Not that these students or their parents are avowed racists, but the tradition itself certainly possesses those undertones.

It’s twisted. These students interact on a day-to-day basis. They work, study, joke, laugh, argue and learn together, yet are not allowed by an entrenched social standard to have a united prom.

It’s these lingering flecks of racial divisiveness that keep this town and many more just like it from becoming the neighborly communities they should be.