Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | When minorities reveal their own racism
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When minorities reveal their own racism

How sad that Andrew Young, a man I (and many others) have admired and thought of as a civil rights leader, reveals that deep-down inside he harbors racist feelings toward other minority communities.

The former Mayor of Atlanta and U.S. representative to the U.N. is African American.

The NYT covers the flap he caused by telling an African American newspaper in Los Angeles that owners of “mom-and-pop” shops in black neighborhoods have overcharged African Americans, have been “selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables,” and have “ripped off” the community for years.

He apologized within hours of being quoted and resigned from his job as a diversity ambassador for Wal-Mart. I feel badly for him because I’m sure he truly is sorry, and at the same time I’m deeply grieved that he believes these things to be true.

Of course he’ll say otherwise, and that he didn’t mean it and he admits that it was wrong to make his statement. It defies and defiles everything he has accomplished in his career.

But you know what, I don’t think offhand comments are false. In fact offhand comments might be the most honest, because they’re spoken when a person’s guard is down.

I believe he feels the way he stated, deep deep down in his soul. He can intellectualize with layers of liberalism and the experience of his long march through the civil rights movement. But he believes what he said.

My fear is that many other African Americans might feel that way about Jews, Asians and Arabs — especially Asians. I’m thinking of the attacks against Korean storeowners in LA during the Rodney King riots, and the instances of protests and tensions betweeen African Americans and Koreans in New York City in the past decade and a half.

So, what do we do about it?