The Editor’s View: The Race Conundrum

By Katrice L. Mines, Editor
kmines@atlantribune.com

This time four years ago, we were already campaign-season immersed for the 2012 presidential election which came with reverberating references to a post-racial America. At the center of the premise — the most powerful man in America, the nation’s first African-American president would very likely win a second term as head of state. For those who believe in the idea, the question was simple: What could be a more obvious substantiation?

And there were numbers to support as a survey by National Public Radio indicated that 39 percent of persons of African-American descent felt they were in a better position than they had been five years ago (as of January, 2010), an increase of 19 percent from the previous poll taken in 2008.

University of Melbourne academic Timothy Laurie contends that “post-racial” discourses “displace ‘racism’ onto ‘backward’ sectors of American society, often coded as Southern, rural or working class, while the long-term future is presented as a color-blind, cosmopolitan utopia.” And then the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., made national headlines.

Following Martin’s death, rallies, marches and protests broke out across the country and abroad. A Change.org petition calling for a full investigation and prosecution of Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, was the fastest-growing campaign in the site’s history. The media coverage surrounding Martin’s death was greater than that of the 2012 presidential race, which was underway at the time. And, with it, race was on everyone’s minds.

Since Zimmerman’s 2013 acquittal, a barrage of protested police killings of African Americans has intensified scrutiny of the justice system and blaring double standards. Shift to America’s workforce and topping news is Silicon Valley’s largest tech firms’ admittance that they are far behind the curve when it comes to racial and gender equality. Among the companies who have released data (according to a report by Working Partnerships USA) — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Google and eBay — the portion of their U.S.-based tech workers who were either black or Latino ranged between 3 to 4 percent. Add to that recent remarks by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump about Mexican migrants; his inflammatory rhetoric has made it painfully obvious that an undercurrent of race and cultural narrowness is actually still quite at issue in America.

And so it seems that we are coming full circle with a conclusion Earl Ofari Hutchinson reached in AT’s 2012 September issue: “The man in the White House is only one person, one job and one place. You have to ask, is my workforce really truly diverse?”

He continued, “There’s no such thing as a post racial America. … All of the economic and sociopolitical disparities have not just magically disappeared with the election of Obama. If anything, they’ve come to the surface even more.”

All bases covered. AT

IN THIS ISSUE: 

A New Direction

The tech sector is leading the way in diversity. What will it take to rebuild?

Diversity of One
Re-thinking the contours of identity and inclusion.

Ending Hiring Bias
How technology is helping diversity initiatives evolve.

Diversity Facts 
and Figures
The impact of diversity from all angles.

Renaissance or Recoil?
An expert take on the future of diversity.

Travel: Fairmont 
Grand Del Mar
Rest and recreation; a little of both.

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