Racism is endemic to all societies that boast cultural diversity, though acknowledging its existence does not necessarily absolve or justify its impact on the population.
America is a nation that ostensibly strives for equality in all
forms ,despite its less than egalitarian history of colonialism, slavery and religious intolerance. The country has made tremendous strides in the last century that many hope may ensure the glacial progression towards mutual tolerance, throughout our short, 237-year history, was not done in vain.
Paula Deen, the Food Network’s southern belle, and her prejudiced remarks pertaining to African Americans is a glaring reminder that American society is a fragmented entity, caught between a growing pluralist culture and a receding, influential conservative mindset.
Though there is a sizable friction between these rivaling mentalities, it would be a gross exaggeration to consider this a culture war.
History has shown that progressivism, by its own merits, prevails:
The abolition of slavery, the suffrage of female citizens, integration of public facilities, the nullification of Jim Crow laws, and the inevitable acceptance of gay marriage.
These feats were not accomplished instantaneously, but rather through a gradual recognition of a changing world passed down from generation to generation.
Deen should not be chastised for her nonchalant approach to racial stereotypes; she was raised in a time when such trends were mainstream.
Instead, she is guilty of failing to comprehend the cultural shifts that have occurred throughout her life and not adjusting her public persona to reflect the times.
The unadorned reality is that individuals are still having trouble adapting to interracial marriages, let alone same-sex unions — personal decisions that have no impact on society as a whole but somehow manage to inconvenience citizens who were cultivated in a culture not accustomed to the idea.
Instead of bombarding such beliefs with criticisms, forcing them to double down and cocoon themselves in a veil of ignorance, mainstream America has to take steps to usher them into conventional society by exhibiting the benefits of diversity and equality.
With the passage of time, science and global trade has eroded stereotypes and broken traditionalist barriers that have long withstood reforms. The U.S. is no exception to this trend, but it is noteworthy to recognize that while these advances have accompanied a new era of understanding, generations predating the current one have managed to isolate themselves in time, preferring instead to conserve their outwardly xenophobic convictions.
The U.S. should not turn a blind eye to such behaviors, but rather acknowledge their existence and launch proactive steps to ensure that tolerance, acceptance and open-mindedness is, and will always be, the mantra of the American civilization.