Over the last few weeks the Wake County School Board, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and members of the North Carolina House of Representatives have been accused of racism. The popularly elected Wake County School Board majority has been accused of racism for enacting the community schools policy – the central issue in the Board’s 2009 election cycle. The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was recently accused of having a “slave master mentality” by Rev. Jesse Jackson for his angry letter to the public in the wake of the Cavaliers’ star player, LeBron James, leaving for Miami. Lastly, during the controversial debate regarding HB1403 entitled “The DNA Database Act of 2010,” bill supporters were implicitly accused of racism for supporting a bill that would supposedly disproportionately affect blacks because blacks are “disproportionately affected by the justice system.”
Accusations of racism should be taken seriously because of the injurious effects racism has on society and its insidious, hateful nature. However, false claims of racism should be denounced as strongly as racism itself. False accusations devalue actual instances of racism – think of the boy who cried wolf. Enough false accusations and no one will pay attention anymore.
Yet today claims of racism remain non-debatable indictments and are used as political weapons. Opponents of community schools in Wake County know that the most effective means of defeating the plan is to delegitimize the supporters by casting them as racist. Debating the issue on its merits would not work because the people of Wake County elected the school board majority to do exactly what it is doing. Whether racism is actually the impetus behind the move does not matter; accusations of racism are simply a means to an end. While the DNA bill was passionately debated on its merits and legitimate concerns were addressed, unnecessarily forcing race into the debate called into question the intention of the supporters for the purpose of undermining their morality and, as a result, the legislation. Again, accusations of racism were nothing more than a means to an end because the bill treats individuals of all races equally under the law and, thus, is not racist. As for Dan Gilbert’s letter, it was a disgusting display of childish frustration with a self-aggrandizing sports superstar leaving his hometown team, but did not appear to include racial language. How can anyone insinuate that LeBron James, who is paid millions of dollars annually, is a slave? Rev. Jackson may want to re-evaluate his statement.