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~By Camille O. Cosby

I believe America taught our son's killer to hate African-Americans. After Mikail Markhasev killed Ennis William Cosby on Jan. 16, 1997, he said to his friends, "I shot a nigger. It's all over the news." This was not the first time Markhasev had attacked a black person.  In 1995, he served time in a juvenile center for stabbing a black man who was standing at a gas station.

Presumably, Markhasev did not learn to hate black people in his native country, the Ukraine, where the black population was near zero. Nor was he likely to see America's intolerable, stereotypical movies and television programs about blacks, which were not shown in the Soviet Union before the killer and his family moved to America in the late 1980s.

James Baldwin wrote in his book,  The Price of the Ticket, "The will of the people, or the State, is revealed by the State's  institutions. There was not, then, nor is there, now, a single American institution which is not a racist institution."

Yes, racism and prejudice are omnipresent and eternalized in America's institutions, media and myriad entities. Here are a few examples:

Violence is prevalent in America. According to Gavin de Becker's research in his book The Gift of Fear, "The energy of violence moves through our culture... Our country's murderers rob us of almost a million years of human life every year... In the past two years alone, more Americans died from gunshot wounds than were killed during the entire Vietnam War."

USA TODAY recently published a report from Pride, a nonprofit drug-prevention program. Pride's survey shows that nearly one million school kids (grades six through 12) carried guns to school during the 1997-98 school year. Fifty-nine percent were white; 18% were black. More than half also used an illegal drug on a monthly basis.

Ennis William Cosby was shot and killed in a middle- to upper-middle-income, predominately white community. The misperception immortalized daily by the media and other entities is that crimes are committed in poor neighborhoods inhabited by dark people. All African-Americans, regardless of their educational and economic accomplishments, have been and are at risk in America simply because of their skin colors. Sadly, my family and I experienced that to be one of America's racial truths. Most people know that facing the truth brings about healing and growth. When is America going to face its historical and current racial realities so it can be what it says it is?

Camille O. Cosby is an educator and producer.