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We Must End Racism And Ignorance
7/26/2016 5:10:10 PM

By Barney Blakeney 

The events of the past couple of weeks convinces me more that our society desperately needs better education if we are to progress beyond the ignorance that permeates it. But it doesn’t appear that’s going to happen any time soon.

I was talking to a young brother over the weekend who asked how do we as Black people move our community to a place where we act in our own best interest. A lot of things must happen, but before anyone can act, they first must realize they need to act.

So I was dismayed recently reading a news story about the continued delay in fixing the inadequacies in public education that exists most blatantly in South Carolina’s ‘Corridor of Shame’. South Carolina legislators were court-ordered some two years ago to come up with a plan to fix the atrociously broken schools in some of the state’s poorest counties - mostly in Cong. Jim Clyburn’s Sixth Congressional District. That’s another story, ya’ll.

The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered the legislature to create a plan to adequately fund some 36 school districts in about 16 counties along the I-95 corridor. The court order came after a stalemate in the two-decades-old lawsuit against the state filed by civil rights attorneys.

The Corridor of Shame is a glaring example of disregard for the welfare of people. Elected officials, black and white, have come and gone and one of the country’s most influential congressmen sits as representative of the Corridor of Shame. Yet the neglect of the needs of those people wantonly continues.

The news report I recently read noted that the South Carolina legislature has played a game in responding to the court order to fix the corridor of shame. The legislature missed two deadlines to come up with a plan to fund school districts in the Corridor of Shame - one earlier this year at the beginning of the 2016 legislative session and the latest at the June end of the session. Aside from appointing committees and forking over a few measly dollars, the legislature’s done nada, ya’ll. Nada!

I asked some black legislators what’s going on and they give me the ‘We try to get funding, but the Republicans won’t give it up” excuse.

What was the excuse as Democrats held control of the legislature all those years before the Republicans took over?

Some of those guys have been sitting in office as long as the Corridor of Shame lawsuit has existed. Most will retire from public office and move on into the perk positions on state boards and commissions retired legislators get when they finally leave office. Ask them what quality of education their children receive.

South Carolina’s Corridor of Shame is a blatant example of a social structure gone haywire - problem perpetuating problem, ignorance perpetuating ignorance. Over the weekend, the young brother asked how do we get those in our communities to work in their own best interest. Sometimes people don’t know they have a problem, much less how to fix it!

Over the past couple of weeks people across the country have confronted a problem they see in our nation’s racist implementation of law enforcement.

How is it that Tim Scott, South Carolina’s first black U.S. senator now publicly acknowledges he has been a victim of racism in America?

What about the fact that he’s the first black senator from South Carolina since Reconstruction doesn’t he get?

Every facet of our lives is affected by the ignorance of racism. That Scott grew up in a struggling single parent home, in the economically depressed community where I had my conversation with the young blood over the weekend and where nothing’s changed since a black man with Scott’s last name was gunned down a year ago as he ran from a white policeman is testament to the racism and ignorance that permeates our lives.

Recently, I’ve read comments about the events of the past couple of weeks that shake me. White folks who see a view of the shootings that took place in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas so differently from mine, I have to ask are we living the same reality?

A black man is shot while complying with the demands of a policeman as his woman and her child watch. And as he dies, the unarmed woman is forced to the ground, handcuffed and arrested! How can that be misconstrued as anything but racist ignorance?

White folks must join black folks to end the ignorance of racism. That process can begin in November when we go to the polls to elect state legislators and local school board members. The November general elections offer an opportunity to end the reign of those whose goals are to perpetuate the status quo. I think that’s in all our best interest.

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