The subject of race rears its head across U.S.

Comments this week by Geraldine Ferraro, a 1984 vice presidential candidate, ratcheted up the racial discourse in the presidential campaign.

It’s been said before but bears saying again, this nation is schizophrenic about race matters.

On the one hand, many white Americans view black and other minority Americans from a perspective shaped by the problem elements of minority communities. In their minds minorities are a drain on the country, contributing nothing and living off entitlement programs funded by hard-working people’s taxes.

Somehow, though, hardworking minorities who also pay taxes are never taken into account in this scenario.

I wonder how those individuals reconcile the generations of tax dollars paid by minorities that gave white students a free ride at public colleges and universities to which minorities could not be admitted.

On the other hand, when minority Americans claim the positive attributes of their cultural heritage, those same observers criticize them as being un-American, as though everyone who is not Native American didn’t arrive here from foreign shores. What about the European enclaves that continue to exist across America? Baltimore, Md. is is a prime example, with its very distinct Italian, Polish, Irish, Greek and other communities; and, the Swedish community in St. Paul, Minn., among others.

Despite the continuing problems, I retain the optimism that many others are actively working to make a reality in their racial reconciliation efforts.

Throughout this semester Northeast Mississippi Community College has brought important figures to its Booneville campus for insightful discussions of race matters: Dolphus Weary of Mission Mississippi, former Gov. William Winter, Susan Glisson, director of the William Winter Institute on Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi and several others.

These individuals aren’t walking around with rose-colored glasses and simply wishing for better race relations.

The whole purpose of Mission Mississippi Weary is to “encourage and demonstrate unity in the body of Christ across racial and denominational lines.”

The William Winter Institute works to “build more inclusive communities by promoting diversity and citizenship, and by supporting projects that help communities solve local challenges.”

Mission Mississippi and the Institute participate with 21 other organizations across the southeast in the Alliance for Truth and Racial Reconciliation.

With the good will and purpose of these groups and others across the nation focused on the issue of race, surely we are moving toward one day owning up to the problem and its challenges, then moving past it.

Lena Mitchell is the Daily Journal’s Corinth Bureau reporter. Contact her at 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

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