The recent rise in racist incidents – from university campuses to police stations – is a sobering reminder that despite the election of Barack Obama, there are still a lot of sick people out there stuck in the Stone Age.
Editor & Publisher magazine, the Associated Press, and local newspapers have catalogued some of the most egregious incidents.
In addition to the garden-variety types of hate crimes, such as painting racist graffiti on cars and houses, there was a particularly disturbing incident that stood out from the rest. Parents in Rexburg, Idaho contacted police after 2nd and 3rd graders on a school bus were heard chanting, "Assassinate Obama." I doubt that any of them could spell the word assassinate, yet they were recycling hate learned from their parents.
Some might have learned how to hate in school if what happened in Allison Park, Pa. is an indication. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a teacher's aide told a biracial 11th grader that Obama will be shot, the U.S. flag will be changed to the KFC flag and that the national anthem will be changed to "Movin' On Up," the theme song from "The Jeffersons" sitcom.
Students living in Morrison Hall on the campus of Baylor University in Texas walked outside and found a noose hanging from a tree. On the campus of North Carolina State University, four students spray painted racist messages that included "Let's shoot the (n-word)" and "Hang Obama by a noose."
At the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, a poster of Obama was defaced and carried the message, "He'll be shot" followed by the n-word.
While there have been a lot of hate crimes instigated by young people, adults proved that the youth have no monopoly on ignorance.
According to the Traverse City (Michigan) Record-Eagle, employees at Hampel's Key and Lockshop flew the U.S. flag upside down – an international signal for distress – the day after Obama was elected president. In an interview with the newspaper, one employee, Rod Nyland, said the flag was being flown upside down because, "…We feel our country is in distress because the n——- got in."
The Associated Press reported that in a Maine convenience store, a reporter saw a sign inviting customers to participate in a pool guessing what day Obama will be assassinated. People were charged $1 for each entry into "The Osama Obama Shotgun Pool." The pot was supposed to go to the person picking the closest date to the attack. "Let's hope we have a winner," the sign proclaimed.
Interracial couples and cars with Obama bumper stickers were targets.
In Pennsylvania's Apolacon Township, an interracial couple discovered what was left of a burned cross in their front yard the day after Obama's election. The woman, who is White, lived in the house with her husband, an African American.
As usual when race comes to the forefront on the national scene, White supremacy groups see a surge in membership. According to AP, one White supremacy Web site attracted 2,000 new members the day after the election. One person posted a note to the site that said, "I want the SOB laid out in a box to see how 'messiahs' come to rest. God has abandoned us, this country is doomed."
The real danger is when hate talk is converted to hateful acts. According to Newsday, two 18-year-olds were among a group of New York Whites who yelled "Obama" as they assaulted a Black teenager with a baseball bat on Staten Island the night Obama was elected president.
Also in the early hours following Obama's election, a Black church in Springfield, Mass., was destroyed by arson. The pastor of the church said the timing of the blaze causes him to believe it was a hate crime.
Some police may not be interested in prosecuting hate crimes for one obvious reason – they share those same feelings. For example, Milwaukee officials found a poster of Obama with a bullet going through his head. They discovered the poster on a table in the police station.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com.