Eric Holder: Subtle Racism is the Greatest Threat to Racial Equality

Earlier today, Attorney General Eric Holder cited subtle forms of discrimination as the greatest danger to racial equality today:

"Speaking during the commencement ceremony at Morgan State University, a historically black college in Baltimore, Holder referred obliquely to a series of racially charged episodes that have “received substantial media coverage” in recent weeks — an apparent reference to the controversial comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy. But Holder also said that the “outlandish statements that capture national attention” obscure a more troubling reality.

These outbursts of bigotry, while deplorable, are not the true markers of the struggle that still must be waged, or the work that still needs to be done,” he said.

“The greatest threats,” he said, “are more subtle. They cut deeper. And their terrible impact endures long after the headlines have faded and obvious, ignorant expressions of hatred have been marginalized.” (link)

The Attorney General backs me up on the importance of confronting non-explicit racism:

"Holder spoke broadly about the struggle for racial equality and what he suggested was the failure of some to fully grasp the degree to which minority groups can be marginalized. He took direct aim at the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, who famously wrote in a 2007 opinion that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

“This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb that it doesn’t need to be actively confronted,” Holder countered. “In its most obvious forms, it might be. But discrimination does not always come in the form of a hateful epithet or a Jim Crow-like statute. And so we must continue to take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it.”  (link)

Today's speech was given on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Civil Rights rights desegregation decision.

The full transcript of the speech is available here.