Focus first on the white man lying, beaten up, on the ground. Then focus on the black woman, armed, lying on top of him, protecting him. And the black child hit by the car the white guy was driving, but not seriously hurt. Then pan to the black men standing around him and the black crowd a bit further back.
What happened: a white guy driving a truck accidentally hit the black kid who reportedly dashed out into the street. A dozen black men beat him up. A black nurse who happened to be there wielded her gun as she threw herself on him to protect him.
Charlie LeDuff, a reporter now for a local Fox news station, has written an op-ed piece in the NY Times called "A Beating in Detroit" about this incident. You should read it. LeDuff walks the line between black and white, siding with neither particularly, but showing a lot of insight as he goes.
The article reminded me: racism isn't always obvious at first glance, and sometimes what is called racism isn't.
I'm sure I've mentioned that when I was a psychiatric social worker in southern Illinois, racism among the white staff was rampant. And it was acceptable among the whites. People believed that the views they held which I call racism were really an accurate measure of what blacks were. Being racist also was a way of drawing the white staff together, a badge of belonging. And it had been passed down from parent to child. It was deeply entrenched in people's very souls. But this shouldn't be surprising. Scratch the surface and you will find that pretty much all of us harbor a streak of racism, if unconsciously.
Here is a good definition of racism:
"Racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others. Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and war, and even during economic downturns."
The article continues:
"Racism is also a very touchy subject for some people, as issues concerning free speech and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights come into play. Some people argue that talking about supporting racial discrimination and prejudice is just words and that free speech should allow such views to be aired without restriction. Others point out that these words can lead to some very dire and serious consequences (the Nazi government policies being one example).
"[T]he American Anthropological Association says race is a powerful idea and an enduring concept, invented by society. It has also fostered inequality and discrimination for centuries, as well as influencing how we relate to other human beings."
Sometimes in the US at least, whites accuse blacks of being "reverse racists" and in some strange way manage to use this as a justification for continuing to hold their own beliefs.
As I said, everywhere you look, racism has a grip on hearts and minds. For a good global look at it, check out this post on Global Issues.
Here in Mexico, I'm always surprised to run into gringos who hold really terrible racist views about the Mexicans they live amongst. Yet I'm sure such people would deny that they had any negative, unfounded views.
Possibly some of ou white guys are starting to get all squinty eyed and grouchy at me for mostly discussing white racism. Well, I am white and don't think I can get all holier than thou about non-white folks. Most of the time, our prejudices don't seriously affect other people, and sometimes they are even a step or two towards understanding. When it comes to the twelve black guys who ganged up on the white driver, I don't know if that's racism or simply hatred of a symbol of the group that has most hurt them. A big point to bear in mind are the roles of power and the need for group membership play in racism. For it to be reverse racism there has to be a racism on the other side that is identified with putting people down and causing harm to them.
I sometimes think speech shouldn't be politically correct. Polite maybe, but not politically correct. When PC rules, it's easier to deny problems and hide from responsibility. On all sides. For instance, it wouldn't be PC for me to say how irritated it made me when a car driven by blacks in St. Louis would stop in the middle of a street to talk to someone and not move out of the way when he saw me.
There are all kinds of subtle (more or less) expressions and consequences of racism against blacks. For instance, statistics show unconscious biases among physicians can affect black vs. white treatment. This article offers one example and this one another. Ironically, the effort to avoid bias can also lead to problems. This article discusses actual genetic differences which affect health.
As you might guess, the situation was historically pretty bad, too. Here is an article which describes white vs. black medical treatment of soldiers in the Civil War.