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PLATFORM : 'This Nation is Regressing Rapidly in the Area of Race Relations'

August 01, 1993|KERMAN MADDOX | KERMAN MADDOX, a community affairs consultant in South-Central Los Angeles, is an active member of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was the target of an aborted bombing plot by skinheads. He told The Times: and

Earlier this year, the nation celebrated the 30th anniversary of the famous civil-rights march on Washington. At the celebration, speeches were made about the progress African-Americans have made since the civil-rights laws of the 1960s and how far this nation has come in the area of race relations.

Usually, when we measure racial progress, we look at such things as black-owned businesses on the Fortune 500 list, black athletes and entertainers making millions of dollars, the increase of black elected officials and prominent blacks on television.

Clearly, these are all signs of progress. But has this nation really moved forward in the area of race relations? Do people have more respect and better understand the African-America community today than in years past? I'd like to think so, but I'm afraid that's not reality. This nation is regressing rapidly in the area of race relations.

The latest example of this is the plot by skinheads and white supremacists to assassinate prominent black leaders and blow up First AME Church, the most active and visible black church in Los Angeles.

Fortunately, this effort was derailed by law-enforcement agencies, but imagine for a second if it hadn't been. Los Angeles would be involved in a race war that would make the unrest of 1992 look like a minor street-corner disturbance.

When a black church was bombed in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, it was tragic but not very surprising, given the time and place. But Los Angeles in 1993? Has this city regressed that much?

If people in Los Angeles, one of the nation's great civilized cities, are spending time trying to figure out how to kill black people in a church in 1993, what does that say about the acceptability of racism in this country?

Certainly in areas of high visibility like sports and television, blacks appear to be doing well, but that hasn't translated into improved race relations for blacks as a whole.

The recent plot against First AME and others, as unfortunate as it was, should serve as a wake-up call that racism is still very much alive in this country.

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