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krazeeboi

"A nation of cowards"

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For anyone who hasn't heard, US Attorney General Eric Holder, the country's first African American to hold that post, recently made a speech about race relations in honor of Black History Month in which he called us a "nation of cowards" for voluntarily segregating ourselves by race outside of school and work, environments in which people of different races and ethnicities are forced to co-mingle with each other. He said much more, but that's the portion of the speech that's getting the most coverage (obviously). How do you guys feels about that? Personally, I don't think it's cowardice as much as it is apathy. Many people just don't see the value in coming out of their comfort zones and crossing racial and ethnic barriers to get to know others outside of their race.

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I do not have a problem with what he said at all.

I think its crazy how we as a country do this.

I have to admit that I have very few friends who have different ethnicities at this stage ion my life.

Part of the problem is Hartford, and part of the problem is other peoples fear.

Compared to College when I was the only white kid in a veritable UN of cultures, I live a terribly white life now. It bothers me too. I miss the different cultures and accents and viewpoints.

For whatever reason I do not go to the indian grocer however, I dont go to the Jamaican BBQ place in the North End, I dont go the latin business district on Park, I just work in the mostly white CBD in the mostly white finance industry, and get beers with a few work friends.

considering how far race relations have come, I am optomistic that this fear in the American people to truely mix it up will die. Its a generational thing. schools are more mixed than ever, so kids grow up thinking its normal for white kids to like hip-hop, or know how to dance and for black kids to want to get Harvard MBA's.

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This created a great conversation last night between myself and my partner. I think he poorly chose his words and poorly timed them, but I also can't say I disagree. I do, however, disagree for us, our friends, and many that we surround ourselves with. But he wasn't talking about those of us that do comingle outside our own race.

Again, I think 'coward' was the wrong word. A nation of people who want to ignore a problem have an apathy problem as noted above, but that doesn't make everyone a coward - I don't believe we are all somehow scared of the issue as much as we just want to avoid it.

In terms of the timing, it was a stupid thing to say after we just elected a president how isn't anglo. Obviously many of us were willing to vote outside our race and were happy to do so.

I also think it ignores the fact that many people just like to be within their own cultural settings. They aren't large, but even Charlotte has enclaves of Hispanics, Bosnians, Croats, Koreans, and other various Asian groups. I actually love the fact that they segregate themselves, to a degree, because I love shopping and eating in their districts. It makes them easy to find. Do we all really have to meld into a bland 'American' by dropping what might make our various backgrounds interesting or spicy? I don't mean we should force ourselves to stay separate, but if many African Amercans want to live around others who live, cook, worship, and socialize like they do is something wrong with that? Any group for that matter. Maybe it's because we've always used the Melting Pot language. Canada has a different approach and refers to their various ethnicities as their 'Cultural Mosaic'. They don't expect people to toss aside their culture and become one big ONE. It makes places like Toronto fantastic to visit -- Little Italy, Little Greece, Chinatown, other portions of town highly populated by Portuguese, Haitians, Dominicans, Indians, Punjabs, etc.

I also think there is a generational problem with his statement. I think a lot of older whites and blacks in America have trouble seeing that the younger generations are far more intermixed than they realize. There are 5 mixed couples in my extended family, a couple lesbians a couple gays, and a handful of mixed babies. It's no big deal to anyone. I grew up in mixed neighborhoods and at one point had a Haitian family on one side of us and an Indian family on the other side (in apartments). At 6 I was spending the night at their homes and eating their food. Their kids did the same with me.

I guess I actually don't agree with him -- it is his viewpoint, but it doesn't apply to those I'm around or those I see. Are their pockets of holdouts who don't want to deal with other races? You bet -- let them wither away in obscurity as society moves past them. But don't call all of us cowards because your viewpoint sees that part of our population and not the rest of us who aren't worried about someone's race.

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In terms of the timing, it was a stupid thing to say after we just elected a president who isn't anglo. Obviously many of us were willing to vote outside our race and were happy to do so.

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I agree that "cowards" was the wrong word to use and that "ignorance" should have been used in its place, "a nation of ignorance".

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I also think there is a generational problem with his statement. I think a lot of older whites and blacks in America have trouble seeing that the younger generations are far more intermixed than they realize. There are 5 mixed couples in my extended family, a couple lesbians a couple gays, and a handful of mixed babies. It's no big deal to anyone. I grew up in mixed neighborhoods and at one point had a Haitian family on one side of us and an Indian family on the other side (in apartments). At 6 I was spending the night at their homes and eating their food. Their kids did the same with me.

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I believe he hit is right on the money, we as a nation do seem to make a concerted effort to avoid interacting with others different than us ethnically except in workplace and academic environs. The idea of white kids liking hip-hop isn't really a sign of social progress rather cultural tourism. The fact that we as nation have schools that are more segregated now than in the 1960's is proof of this seperatism that is still occurring before eyes. Whites are 80-90% likely to attend a school and live in a neighborhood that is majority-white, and blacks and Latinos are the same. Until we reach point where it see it more natural for the majority and just a handful of society to live in a ethnicially diverse neighborhood then we are still in the same place in more ways than one that we were culturally before Civil Rights Movement, except it is now illegal in most institutions for somebody to be discriminated or segregated based on ethnicity.

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I don't think you can take a nation of more than 300 million and distill them down to just a one word description on any issue. Eric Holder does his office and his position a disservice by doing something such as that. He really ought to know better. In doing so, he didn't spark any relevant dialog on the actual issue. He instead sparked a discussion on the idea of calling Americans, cowards. He is taking over an office that has been wreaked by unqualified political hacks and this isn't a good way to start out.

I do think people will naturally segregate themselves with other like people given no other circumstances such as work, school, or common causes. Is this a bad thing? I don't know. As a Gay man, I can sympathize as I have at times in my past made a point of only attending Gay events, businesses, etc., and only having Gay friends. Not because I dislike the public in general but because it was easier to be myself without having to bend to mainstream expectations and to associate with people who deal with the same issues.

However it's also clear that Holder was talking about the state of White and Black relations in the USA. I think we continue to move forward as a society on this issue but I think the point he was trying to make is that it is still very difficult for Americans to sit down and talk about it. The history of this matter in this country is painful because it brings up feelings of resentment, guilt, victimization, irresponsibility, ...., in other words, the things we don't like to talk about. I don't know if we will ever come to terms with it as long as we carry the burdens of what our ancestors did or what was done to them.

The election of Obama marks a milestone in the United States. But I think the more fascinating aspect of this were the crowds at his rallies and especially at the inauguration. I don't know know how any American could not look at that and not be happy at what they saw. Not at the election results, but at the fact that so many people of all races were there celebrating without regards to their race on something that would have been very focused on race in our past. It was remarkable. The rest of the world watched this event in absolute awe because this is the only place on this planet where it can happen. It is what it really means to be American. If we remember this, then maybe the rest will eventually work itself out.

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he's right in part as its difficult to get folks to talk about race in mixed company. everyone is afraid to make a comment or share their thoughts, because they are afraid of how their thoughts will be misinterpreted. you say something and its meaning becomes misconstrued or perverted... next thing you know you're being fingered as a bigot.

positive feedback loop: everybody is nervous and weary of being misunderstood; holder comments on this and voila, he gets spotlight and scorn. on and on...

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I dont know if coward is too strong of a word or not. I think Eric Holder was speaking the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. If you look outside of school and the work place, people dont mingle with people of other races in general. But even in school you see it to some to degree. Go to the cafeteria during lunch and you'll see all the white students sitting together and all the black students sitting together. Even in the church. Yes there are plenty of mix churches out there but the vast majority of churches across this country are still segregated (not by law). There are black churches and white churches. Now that may have more to do with cultural style of worship. Neighborhoods are still seperated by race. There are white neighborhoods and black neighborhoods. People really need to get over sterotypes. a black family looking to move to a new neighborhood shouldnt rule out a "white neighborhood" because there are no other blacks. Many blacks think alot of whites are racist so they feel uncomfortable moving to certain neighborhoods. Again thats a sterotype. likewise, a white family shouldnt overlook a neighborhood because its primarily African-American. The sterotype is that a black neighborhood means crime and poverty and that also is not true. Another sterotype is that black people think all "rednecks" are racist and that is not true at all. I remember seeing an article with a picture of this 22 year old guy from Alabama that anyone would call a redneck. He had a big truck with big wheels and a huge confederate flag on top. But there was one thing that confused alot of people. He had an Obama sticker on the back of his truck and he voted for Obama. Word of advice. Dont judge a book by its cover. I think once people get over the sterotypes, fears and learn to embrace all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, political party association or what ever it may be and we'll all be fine.

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I think some of this apathy or cowardice, whatever you wish to call it, can also be attributed to fatigue, particularly on the part of Blacks. We hear arguments like, "Blacks want to be equal, but they also want their own colleges, groups, etc. If White people did that, we'd be crying 'racism.'" I mean, seriously, if you're that ignorant of the historic factors that caused these things to come about, not to mention the roles that tradition and legacy play among people groups in general, then I just don't think you're worth my time. And many of these same people, in the same breath, go on to talk about racial disparities and such--the very reason why some of the things they just trashed are in existence in the first place. Many times, Whites and Blacks are just looking at things from two different perspectives, largely shaped by our collective histories. Many Whites tend to view things through the lens of "rugged individualism," whereas most Blacks view themselves in a collective sense. So it can almost be like speaking two different languages sometimes and one side isn't trying to understand the other.

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