Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died so blacks would no longer be viewed as inferior but rather enjoy the same inherent rights given to whites in America.
Yet in 2014, 50 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the West View News thinks it’s appropriate to publish a story about our first black president, Barack Obama, with the headline, “The Nigger in the White House.”
Oh, the times we are living in.
All I could do was feel sick to my stomach when I read the headline that the monthly newspaper serving Manhattan’s Lower West Side published. And it brought up the pain my family went through nearly four decades ago.
Not only is the word reprehensible but also why would an editor of a newspaper use the n-word in a headline about America’s first black president?
As a black woman who is a dogged critic of Obama’s policies and his presidency and also happens to be the daughter of parents who grew up in the segregated South and were called that word, I find the headline disgusting and reprehensible to say about the nation’s first black President, even if the author claimed he was actually writing in support of the President.
The article, written by an 86-year-old white man, James Lincoln Collier, supports Obama, noting, “far right voters hate Obama because he is black.”
“That was the whole point in this, that a great many people in the United States continue to think of President Obama as the n****r, and I wanted to make that point, that there’s a substantial amount of racism still existing in the United States,” Collier told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday.
I guess Collier could be a liberal but in his heart still feels it is OK to use that word to describe Obama. Clearly, no political party owns racism and that’s just the problem.
For the record, I don’t think it’s OK for blacks to call each other the word either or for so-called black hip-hop artists to lace their music with the word like they’re saying the “hello.”
Still, despite all the major achievements of blacks before and since the Civil Rights movement, most notably the attaining the highest office in the land, many whites in this country have a deep-seated hatred toward blacks and will never view us as equal. They even think they are complimenting us when they call us that word. And at the end of the day, that’s all we’re considered, no matter what we do or accomplish.
In a pathetic attempt to defend using the headline, the West View News’ editor, George Capsis, told the New York Post:
“In this article, however, Jim reminded me that The New York Times avoids using the word which convinced me that West View should.”
Capsis defends his decision as wanting to be provocative and “out do” the Times. I think it’s more plain that. It seems the only way Capsis thought to praise a black President was to use a racist word to disparage him.
The entire incident shows how far America has to yet to go in race relations. Remember, this is 2014.
Not 1977. That’s when I was just a child and my parents had to sue the Salisbury Country Club in Chesterfield, Virginia, suburb of Richmond, Virginia, for denying them membership a private club in our neighborhood only because we were black.
It was then I learned about racism, specifically, that no matter what, some white people just hate black people for no other reason than the color of their skin.
My father (Dr. Thomas Wright Jr., an accomplished dentist) and mother (Barbara B. Wright) had moved into their dream home they had spent a year building and applied for membership to the club their kids could ride their bikes to and learn how to swim and play tennis.
But in the summer of 1977, the club’s all-white board of directors voted to reject my parents’ membership application. The all-white board also rejected the family of NFL all-pro star Willie Lanier. The club had no black members and no white applicant had ever been denied membership to the club.
Part of the reason my parents built a home in Salisbury was because the real estate developers of the subdivision advertised homeowners could enjoy club membership. They just failed to mention it was a perk available to “white-only homeowners.”
After my parents got rejected, one of the co-developers, J. Kenneth Timmons, sent a letter to the Salisbury Country Club board of directors congratulating them on a job well-done and told them to “continue to act in the same responsible way,” according to June 5, 1980, Richmond Times-Dispatch article “Club Fight Tires Black Dentist.”
Like the author in the West View News, Timmons didn’t use the n-word to refer to my parents in the body of his letter. But he may as well have because that’s how he viewed them.
After a lower court ruled against my parents, they appealed to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously ruled on September 30, 1980, my parents had been discriminated against.
My parents never joined the club. It wasn’t about the membership. It was about respect and teaching their three children about doing what was right and “responsible.”
Just before the ruling was handed down, my father was quoted saying:
“You can’t believe it’s 1980, and they’re still doing this thing.”
Sadly, it’s 2014 and Dad, they’re still doing the same thing, only this time to the President of the United States.