Michael Richards said last Monday and again over the weekend that he spewed racial epithets during a stand-up comedy routine because he lost his cool while being heckled and not because he's a bigot.
Pardon me? Say what?
Come on, Krammer (you recall that Richards starred in the hit comedy series, Seinfeld). You can do better than that, surely!
Maybe you heard his "apology" on the Late Show with David Letterman via satellite. Over the weekend he was talking to Rev. Jesse Jackson. Maybe I missed something in the news (tell me if I did), but I'm wondering why he hasn't met the young people he attacked to ask for their forgiveness?
Have you noticed? Stories like this one keep coming up--remember Mel Gibson?
What is interesting to me is the fact that so many folks act so surprised. Richards' remarks were particularly offensive not only because of his selection of words, but also because of the manner in which he used historical references to America's violent, racist past.
Make no mistake about it, racism is alive and well in the U.S.A.
Admitting that is essential. Living in reality, no matter how disappointing at times, is a prerequisite for progress, genuine connection and authenticity.
So, we need to face the facts. Richards' tirade was filled with the language of hate, racism, anger and divisiveness--all forces still very much at work in our society and nation.
Progress in urban, community development depends on our commitment to continuing the struggle to address, acknowledge and move beyond the racism that has dominated our national life and story for far too long.
My faith tells me that the words of Jesus continue to have much to teach us in regard to events like this one.
On one occasion, Jesus told his closest followers, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' . . .But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean'" (Matthew 15:10-11, 18 NIV).
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