Oh, racism. Oh how it has scarred the epidermis of Albany. Fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement sought equality for all, we see more and more evidence that the racism is still holding strong. The problem is, a great deal of it is from those who were once the target of such hatred.
A while back, I remember sitting down with a couple who had recently gone through a rough patch with the city. This couple happened to be black, and they adamantly argued that white people in Albany are the targets of racism these days. There are, no doubt, people who will read this who will disagree. Unfortunately, they are wrong.
This isn’t an isolated incident. Albany isn’t alone in experiencing this at all. In fact, there is a tendency for the one-time oppressed to become oppressors in their own right once they take power. It’s happened more than once and it takes a great deal of understanding to actually prevent it from happening, understanding that most people lack.
Dr. Joshua Murfree, in an email to a local newspaper, made the comment about how it was time for “one of their own” to take the helm of the Dougherty County School System. Many people, myself included, grabbed a hold of these comments and point to them as an example of how Murfree had no business running the school system. However, they are a symptom of a deeper problem.
My understanding of what the Civil Rights Movement wanted was equality. They wanted to be judged on an even scale with white people. This is completely fair, and it’s a national disgrace that this wasn’t already in place. However, the natural extension of that is a belief that we are not all that different.
Murfree’s comments show that he clearly still sees a division based on the color of one’s skin. He is not alone unfortunately. Yes, there are still white people who harbor such beliefs as well. I can think of two respected groups in the community with prominent members who do not want members to have a different amount of melanin in their skin.
Unfortunately, those people are not just met by a like number from other communities, but seem to be outnumbered by that other community.
Some time back, one of my sales associates – a black man – approached a local business owner about possibly advertising with The Albany Journal. She seemed interested, but my associate reported that a man in the store argued that she “needed to spend money with black owned businesses”. He saw no problem with that idea, though I’m sure if someone with the Southwest Georgian had heard the same from a white person, then I have little doubt all manners of hell would have been raised, and rightly so.
Here’s a note for those in the community who think that the sins of the past are justification for committing the same sins today: Our community will never grow so long as skin color is a factor in any decision whatsoever. Those decisions need to be made on a lot better factors than something that no individual can control.