Sadly, one of the direct consequences of the election (twice) of a black American President has been a resurgence in overt racism. My home state of Missouri, which voted for McCain and Romney, and which has drawn a lot of national attention as a result of the police shooting and killing of a black, unarmed teenager in Ferguson, has become a hotbed of racial strife. People from across the nation and around the world have focused on the "show-me" state to see what exactly it can show them.
Unfortunately, we Missourians seem hell-bent on showing our asses.
A group of concerned individuals are marching from Ferguson to the state capitol in Jefferson City in what is being called a "Journey for Justice." This week when the marchers reached the little town of Rosebud (population 409) in Gasconade County, they were met by two hundred protestors in a demonstration against the marchers that was replete with symbolic racial insults including Confederate flags, fried chicken, watermelon, and an empty 40-ounce beer bottle. A bus following the marchers also had a window shot out.
Welcome to Rosebud in twenty-first century America.
Yesterday, while driving across the southwest Missouri city of Springfield, I encountered a vehicle with a bumper sticker that was also heavy on racial symbolism. The sticker did a take on the Ferguson "hands-up-don't-shoot" salute by cleverly rephrasing it "Pants Up - Don't Loot." The only way that crap could have been any more racist was to have it printed on a watermelon!
I lived in Missouri in the 1950's when blacks couldn't use many public accommodations - and we have certainly come a long way since then. But as recent events - and an angry tide of dimwitted racists - aptly demonstrate, there is still a lot that has to happen in this state before we can all hope to share equally in the bounty that life has to offer.
The struggle on the long road to true equality goes forward - one step at a time. It will not be deterred by those who hopelessly cling to a past where they received privileged treatment simply because of their skin color. Change is coming - even to places like Missouri.