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PREJUDICE PERMEATES AMERICAN CULTURE
~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."
The Voting Rights Act signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 will
expire in 2007. Congress once again will decide whether African-Americans
will be allowed to vote. No other Americans are subjected to this oppressive
African-Americans, as well as all Americans, are brainwashed every day
to respect and revere slave-owners and people who clearly waffled about
race. In truth, the enslavement of millions of Africans immeasurably enriched
the treasuries of America's government and individuals. Interestingly,
several slave-owners' images are on America's paper currencies: George
Washington ($1), Thomas Jefferson ($2), Alexander Hamilton ($10), Andrew
Jackson ($20), Ulysses Grant ($50) and Benjamin Franklin ($100). Grant
was the last U.S. president to own slaves. Even Abraham Lincoln ($5) said,
"I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade between the
states... I, as much as any man, am in favor of having the superior position
assigned to the White race."
God and most Christian holy people artistically have been recreated in
images of whiteness. This shrewd propaganda undeniably lessens the worthiness
of most of the Earth's people. Because of those visual constructs, the
churches have a deep problem with race.
America's educational institutions' dictionaries define "black" as "harmful;
hostile; disgrace; unpleasant aspects of life." "White" is described as
"decent; honorable; auspicious; without malice."
A medical school at the University of Texas in Galveston conducted a controversial
study primarily on black babies from 1956 to 1962. The researchers withheld
an essential fatty acid from the babies' formulas that humans need for
the growth of the whole body and nervous system. Those black babies were
used as laboratory animals, and several of the infants died during the
course of the study. Previously, this research had been done on dogs. This
is just one of several unethical medical studies on African-Americans that
has been documented. Also, racism negatively has impacted African-Americans'
health. Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, a Harvard psychiatrist says, "Some
research suggests that the high prevalence of hypertension among
African-Americans, compared to whites, is related directly to the stresses
associated with being a black person, living in a racist society."
D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, an undisguised racist film, was
recently rated by the American Film Institute as No. 44 of America's top
100 films. This movie depicted black people as subhuman creatures.
Gangs, such as the Ku Klux Klan, unite because of racial hatred. A gang
will convince themselves that they are racially superior to "outside" groups,
which must be harmed or eliminated.
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.