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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Will we overcome the racial divide?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

One of the first "in your face" examples of how race colors our thinking was the O.J. Simpson trial. When the verdict was announced, blacks rejoiced and whites were shocked. The polarization of this sensational news event brought to the foreground the sensitive issue of race and how we view events so very differently.

Then came the Duke Lacrosse team rape case. And again, polls clearly showed that blacks overwhelmingly believed a crime had been committed while whites took virtually the opposite position.

Soon, baseball legend Barry Bonds will break one of the more cherished records in baseball history when he tops Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list. And once again, support or opposition to Bonds' record assault falls along racial lines.

A highly-respected national poll out this week shows there is a clear-cut division rooting for Bonds. Interestingly, because of Bond's suspected steroid usage, a majority of baseball fans are not rooting for him to break the home run record. But when inspected a bit closer, you find that only 28 percent of whites support Bonds while 75 percent of blacks give him their support.

When it comes to the sticky question of his steroid use, just a third of blacks say he is guilty while three-fourths of whites believe he has used the performance enhancing drug.

Has Bonds been treated unfairly? A third of blacks believe that statement is true while 60 percent of whites believe his treatment has been fair.

The point of all this is to illustrate that race and race alone determines our position on virtually every aspect of life. The races simply view events differently. Now this should not come as any major surprise. But I am somewhat surprised that the divisions are so clear-cut and so deep.

Barry Bonds is an arrogant snob who is disliked by his teammates as well as fans outside of San Francisco. He demands special treatment. And there is no doubt in my mind that he - like McGwire, Sosa and countless others - used steroids to improve his performance. That fact alone taints his home run record. He'll be elected to the Hall of Fame - and he should be - but his entry will be far from unanimous. I believe all of this to be factual and accurate.

But ask two members of different races and you'll receive much different views of Bonds and his pursuit of Aaron's record. Given the same set of facts and the same information, we digest it differently based on race.

None of this is really important except it does illustrate the cultural differences based solely on race. Until we find a way to overcome these vast differences of opinion, we'll struggle as a society. The topic is not baseball. The topic is race and how it colors our views on life.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen