Yes We Are

(TRENTON, NJ – Feb. 20) This week, Attorney General Eric Holder said “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been and we — I believe continue to be in too many ways essentially a nation of cowards.” Well, allow me to take the rare opportunity to agree with Mr. Holder. Sorry folks, yes we are.

When people are uneasy about a black person making jokes about black people in general (and it’s the tamest of jokes,) we have a problem. If ethnicity is brought up in conversation and someone tries to diffuse it by saying, “I do not see Black and White, I see American,” that’s a problem. When people are afraid of disagreeing with someone because of their color…for example, when some Whites disagreed with Obama and it had everything to with his policies is not his race. They were afraid to speak out because they would have been labeled a racist. In my case, I would have been labeled a sellout. That is a BIG problem.

When people say, “Why do we need to talk about having a dialogue on race, we always have this whenever something racial happens?” Complaining about talking about race is a problem, and here is why we need to have the dialogue. For starters, the people who don’t want to talk about it anymore would like to avoid the issue, either because the wrong people have been using race for their own personal gain OR because they are afraid to be labeled as a racist (as stated in the example in the last paragraph.)

There also has not been an honest dialogue about it in my opinion. America needs to acknowledge that its past has been super ugly, and I don’t mean mention it casually and brush it aside as if all is right with the world. The truth is that America has a long way to go to achieving racial harmony. This has been proven recently where The New York Post can draw a cartoon in poor taste. While it is the New York Post’s right to publish the cartoon, it is equally everyone’s right to be offended by it. In addition to that, both sides of the aisle have been guilty at times with using the resentment of Blacks and Whites for political gain.

Let’s go back to the recent election, where many people in general were afraid to show dissent against then-Presidential candidate Obama. If Whites dissented, they would have been viewed as a racist. If blacks (like me) did not agree with President Obama, we get called with sellouts or self-haters. I was recently told to finish my Clorox bath when I reminded the unapologetically Black community that President Obama was running things, not us.

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Everything is not a racial incident. When we are afraid to disagree with policy because of racial concerns, then we are indeed wimps about the subject. America has some pondering to do, before we accuse Holder of trying to stir the pot.

P. Kenneth Burns is a broadcaster and the editor of Maryland Politics Today. His email is

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