Ka Leo O Kalani

Racism: a symptom of America’s division

Michelle Chen and Mele Moa

Jake Nakamura, Editorial

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Ka Leo O Kalani reporters created a vox pop asking for students’ thoughts on the N-word. Most students understood the sensitivity of the word and saw it as offensive. Others said that it is just an overused word and there’s nothing you can do to get people to stop saying it.

Blair Kaaihue teaches English and AP Psychology at Kalani and she thinks that racism is not the direct cause of America’s divisions, but a symptom.

“I don’t think it’s something that can be stopped, but the problem is a lot deeper,” she said. “The best we can do is re-educate people on it to make better choices, but I do not think we can stop racism.”

Racism has been around for an incredibly long time; it will most likely take even longer for it to disappear. 

Racer Moody teaches Social Studies, Economics, and Psychology; he agrees that the word is outdated and there is no reason it should be used today. He attended college in Los Angeles and had African American friends who would refer to each other with that word.

“I always felt uncomfortable even though I was good friends with them to ever use that word,” he said. “So it was kind of interesting there.”

Some people may not really care about the use of the word and would not take offense as easily, which may be why they use the word around people. However, for others who do take offense to it, it is a different story.

“If you don’t want to be referred to that, maybe we should all erase those words from our vocabulary,” Moody said.

Dana Plotkin teaches Economics and Psychology as well and she believes the word is used to suppress and that any sort of racial slur or hate speech should never be used today. Nonetheless, it is often perceived as a 1st amendment issue because Americans have the right to freedom of speech.

“The word is high up there [as hate speech] because of its long history,” Plotkin said. “And that makes it difficult to ban the word or make it illegal to say. However, I do not think that people should use it.”

Due to slavery, it’s cruel past, and all the suffering that African Americans experienced as slaves, there is controversy on whether or not the descendants of slave owners should pay amends of some sort, despite the fact that they had no part in it and slavery was abolished nearly 160 years ago.

Sharlene Whang teaches sophomore & junior English at Kalani. She believes that reparations are unnecessary but feels Americans should never forget our troubled history. However, she does feel the government should do something to stop racism.

“Do I do think that [the government] should pay people?” she asked. “No. But I do think systematically they should do something about racism and acknowledge its presence which is currently isn’t.”

She says that she had friends that always said the N-word when she was in high school. 

“I don’t think they’re saying it to be racist, but it is a word that has become desensitized,” she said. “The way it’s used in media and pop culture it’s like it doesn’t mean anything.”

Of course, America is facing many more problems than just racism, such as political strife and radicalism, racial supremacy and, just recently, immigration and border control. Because of this, our country is incredibly divided, and not acknowledging the problem won’t make it go away. 

Right now, our country needs every American to come together to solve all the problems we face to let our country thrive. However, we must also not allow media or politicians to make us think what they want us to think.

The media plays a big role in all of this. A poll last year by the Washington Examiner showed that nearly three-quarters of the country believe that the media are “dividing Americans” along racial, gender and political lines.

Jan Miyahira is a freshman English teacher at Kalani, and she also believes that division in America causes other problems.

“Racism divides,” she stated. “I think that is one of the underlying causes of a lot of problems in America. Social and economical problems especially.”

Racism will end when everyone is seen as equal, and this has to go for every race. But it may not be resolved in the near future because some people do not even realize they are racist. Once people start acknowledging the problem, we can all start to slowly piece America back together.

Do you use the N-word?

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