OPINION: We can all learn from Washington

Racial issues in the United States are constant

The protests of three different groups in Washington D.C. highlights the racial division in the United States.

It also points to some teachable moments for everyone who witnessed, reported or spoke on the situation.

The problem arose when the extreme religious Black Israelites group started yelling racist slurs at a group of high school students wearing MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats. The teens were part of a protest group related to an anti-abortion protest.

A Native American elder saw the incident and attempted to diffuse the anger.

The viral video of that initially came out was of the youths apparently smirking in front of a Native American elder playing the drum. It caused instant outrage on social media channels. That was then sent to news outlets around the world and within minutes, everyone knew who these kids were and what school they went to.

As more details of the story made the light of day, it became clear that while the youths were seen mocking the elder and his drumming, it was the instigation of the extreme racism seen in the Black Israelites who helped set of an uproar.

Once the initial story was shared on Ponoka News’ Facebook page angry comments started coming in. Some were angry at the children and the school they went to, and others were angry the white white youths appeared to be targeted.

Cries of ‘fake news’ and ‘racists’ and ‘there’s more to the story’ were part of the commentary on every single social media channel that the Black Press newspapers shared the stories to; not only at those angry at those kids but to the news outlets as well for sharing the story on Facebook (never mind that this story was already posted on our website some time before it was shared on social media).

The racial issues that assail the United States notwithstanding, the lessons here are many.

First, sharing a short video clip on social media channels, especially when it relates to racially charged issues (in this case, the Black Israelites instigation) helped fan the flames. While some called it ‘fake news’ I would argue that it was incomplete news; the full details were not available.

This is indeed an important lesson for news organizations and social media keyboard warriors as the kids have since received death threats. In today’s world of instant sharing, information can spread faster than wildfire and it’s almost impossible to slow it down. This would have happened regardless of news organizations sharing the information. Thankfully, the full details came out and those stories were rectified.

Second, there was a teaching moment for those kids. Where were the chaperones in all of this? The video also shows some young men appearing to laugh and mock the Native American elder, who also happens to be a Vietnam war veteran. Regardless of race, how we as younger people behave around our elders is important for future generations. He deserves to be treated better.

Third, watching the full video and what the Black Israelites were saying, it’s clear their racist comments and screaming and yelling was intended to spark outrage. They spoke against the kids and the elder. It worked.

In all of this chaos it should not come as a surprise the issues Americans are facing.

The irony to all of this is that the three groups met on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same place where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his seminal “I Have a Dream” speech. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was Monday, Jan. 21.



jeff.heyden-kaye@ponokanews.com

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