The Year in Racism: 2009 Year-End Review

‘Tis the season of year-end lists (including these two excellent lists about racism from The Grio and AlterNet).  We bring you our own year-end review of racism.

First, a quick overview of racism in 2009. There were several prevalent themes this year in stories about race and racism.   Chiefly, the most amazing and oft-reported story was the inauguration of the first African American to the office of the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama.  This fact made news both signifier and reality, as did the racist backlash against him.  Another frequent theme in 2009 was the impact of racism on health, the reality of health disparities and racism in the health care debate.   Economics, economic meltdown and the overrepresentation of white (straight) men in the role of perpetrators of the financial collapse and the overrepresentation of brown and black folks among those receiving the impact of that disaster was a major story.   The persistent problem of pollice brutality and the disproportionate impact on black men continued to be a serious issue.  Mainstream media’s racist representation, especially the NYPost and CNN, garnered strong critique this year.   And, the possible consequences of hate speech became all too real when an avowed white supremacist, James Von Brunn, opened fire at the Washington, D.C. Holocaust museum.  The shooting, and several incidents on Facebook, also highlighted the rise in cyber racism; there was also a notable success in fighting white supremacy via the web.   The year 2009 also marked some milestones:  John Hope Franklin, Ronald Takaki, and Percy Sutton died, each one a hero in different ways.   In 2009, we saw the first all black female flight crew, first woman of color on the Supreme Court of the U.S. And, all in the category of “a step in the right direction”:  Lou Dobbs resigned from CNN, an immigrant student wrongly targeted for immigration was granted a reprieve, and a swimming pool club accused of racist exclusion of would-be swimmers in July, closed in November.

Here’s the month-by-month breakdown.

That’s my take on the year-end review of racism.