Racist at heart but I can’t help it!

I had the pleasure of spending Friday evening with Washington Post columnist William Rasberry. We had a pleasant dinner conversation with many of my peers both from the Star and Lifeline, NIU’s minority publication.

Much to my delight, Mr. Rasberry chose to speak about racial issues. I have a deep concern for racism, or so I thought.

I’ve seen some firsthand racism in my tender, formative years as a juvenile delinquent. I went to a very racially mixed high chool on Chicago’s South Side, but we all managed.

My girlfriend, and my favorite person in the world, happens to be a Mexican-American.

worked construction on a number of crews where I was the minority and made good friends. Construction sites are not sensitive places. Neither are newsrooms. I guess that’s why I’m not a very sensitive guy, which also explains why I’m not an artist.

My girlfriend and two of my roommates, both of non-caucasian races were surprised to find out I was a racist who hacked away shamelessly for a racist newspaper, as was I.

learned of my sickness through letters to the editor from people whom I’ve never met.

Imagine my surprise at living with myself for 23 years completely ignorant of the fact I was a racist, perhaps a latent one. What would I tell my girlfriend? I don’t suppose marriage is an option now. I would secretly despise my own children!

The only responsible thing to do was quickly inform my roommates of my affliction. “Get out while you’re alive,” I said. “Hurry, before I try to enslave you. My oppressive nature could explode at any moment.”

I was also informed I worked for a racist and sexist newspaper. I learned that from SA President Paul Middleton and many others. I couldn’t argue. My respect for the fine job the Student Association has been doing paralyzed all arguments.

I ran screaming to my Mexican and Jewish female superiors, Tina Gonzalez and Caryn Rosenberg, but the inevitable truth stared me in the face. As a latent racist, what else could I do but answer my calling as a bigot and involve myself in the NIU mouthpiece for white male propaganda.

Mortified by the latest development, I spoke to a certain SA senator and well-known Star basher who shall remain nameless, as it was a relatively pleasant conversation.

I spoke to him after the Rasberry speech, brimming with idealism and new hope for my bigoted nature. I asked him what I could do as an editor, or what anyone on the paper could do to become more “racially-sensitive,” since working our butts off to put out a newspaper everyday sometimes leaves us a tad rough around the edges.

Mr. Senator went on to justify his recent support for zero-funding the Star. I granted his grievance, since I had recently come to grips with my own racist tendencies but asked what could be done to make us a more racially sensitive paper in an apologetic tone.

is reply overwhelmed me. I was speechless. I had to concede.

His reply was, “I don’t know.”

“Gee, Mr. Spicoli. I don’t know.”

“But, but, (dramatic pause, followed by annoying spiel) I watched “Boyz in the Hood.” I read Malcolm X. I went to see the NIU Black Choir. I attended a service at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church with my black brothers and sisters in Christ.” All for not.

I am simply racially insensitive and no one knows what to do about it. I give up.

William Rasberry’s response to a visibly disgruntled Admasu Zike came back to me. It wasn’t complex, but it hit home.

“Sir, I’m saying to you, to hell with blame. Let’s fix things …. I warrant you that if we begin to do that, we will find allies in unsuspecting quarters.”

Some of those unsuspected allies work for The Northern Star. Some are in many black and other minority student organizations. Many are just roaming around being labeled racists or sellouts before they’re allowed to become allies.