A Republican on Racism





by Dan Dodson

(published in the Trenton Times, May 23, 2003)

Roger Hernandez’s column, “A Yankee has to wonder” (May 4), illustrates one of the last vestiges of racism in this country. From his point of view as a Northern Hispanic, he couldn’t understand how patriotic Southerners could consider the prominent use of Confederate symbols in Georgia’s state flag.

As a forty-something, southern, white, Republican, male I can’t either.

The ambivalence Hernandez points to is not confined to Georgia. South Carolina still flies the stars and bars on its capital grounds. The NAACP boycotted the state, yet Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach continue to attract both white and black tourists

Some white folks still think it’s OK to use the “n” word in front of other white people. This has happened to me twice in the last year here in Trenton. What would possess somebody to think that was proper behavior?

New Jersey’s schools are still segregated. Schools in the south are typically integrated on a county level. This has resulted in school populations reflective of regional racial demographics. N.J. officials and voters hide behind our system of independent districts, but this doesn’t make it right.

These examples are the faces of racism in today’s America. Unfortunately, the war on racism is led by a shrill voice that attacks anything white and male. This isn’t a winning strategy. Rather, I call on white males, better yet, Republicans, to lead the charge.

We made a small start with Trent Lott but much more can be done.

South Carolina’s policy is racist; we should all support the boycott and remind potential visitors of their implicit support for the Confederacy.

When a racist remark is made, confront it. Let those who are less enlightened know that they are outside the norms of civilized behavior.

Finally, and this is directed towards N.J. Republicans, take the lead on integrating NJ’s schools. It’s a cop-out to hide behind the system of independent school districts. Republicans support school choice; let’s use it as the hammer to open our state to an integrated society.

Dan Dodson
The writer is a Leadership Trenton Fellow

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Copyright 2002, Dan Dodson