It’s another year for Black History Month to try to get people who could care less to understand just what it used to mean to be black in America. I say it that way because based on a lot of what I see, most people care as much about that as they do about what it’s like being black in America today. If that sounds cynical it’s not meant to; instead, it’s meant to convey what I see is still the reality of being black in America, and even with a black president, things aren’t better at all.

As a matter of fact, things have gotten worse. Let’s look at the year President Obama had, shall we? This president in his first year in office has received more death threats than GW Bush did in his entire 8 years, and more than the combined number of the previous 4 president. The New York Post decided to equate him with a monkey that ripped a woman’s face off, as if they were hoping that the President would be shot like the monkey was. Then again, that’s Rupert Murdoch for you, so it makes sense. Then there’s this group that keeps filing lawsuits trying to get him overturned as president because they keep claiming he’s not American (and they obviously have the money to keep filing these claims, as the judges keep increasing the fines for them filing what’s already been determined numerous times as frivolous). And this new fringe radical group calling itself the Tea Party keeps creating all sorts of racist incarnations of President Obama, claiming free speech. All that, then the debate as to whether he really qualifies as being a black president in the first place because his mother wasn’t black. Sure, when there’s nothing left to fall back on, try that route.

What about the year for black people in general? I wrote on my finance blog that unemployment for young black men under the age of 25 is now at 34.5%; for all young black people, it’s 30.5%. For young black women, it’s at 26.5%, compared to 15.4% for all young women. That was in 2009, when the rest of the country lamented unemployment rates of 10% or so. Then there was the story on how blacks and hispanics usually end up with higher mortgage interest rates than whites, even if the economic backgrounds are the same or even better. And it’s not even close; almost 55% of blacks and 46% of hispanics are affected; makes me wonder about my mortgage loan.

You want more? Recently black students started leaving Hocking College in Nelsonville, OH after receiving death threats. Instead of making them feel safer, their spokesperson came out with this: “Any time that there are young people, you know, there’s going to be tension. Young people will be young people.” Comforting, right? You also have the case where a Google Voice program interpreted something one person said to a young black lady as “Hey Negro,” which she didn’t say, and of course dredges up the embarrassment of Harry Reid and his stupid comment from last year’s campaign, only recently released. There’s also a Microwave program being sold in Poland that any time someone goes looking for a picture of black people it pulls up a picture of a monkey; yeah, that’s really subtle. Finally, one really has to question just how far race relations go when even 15 year olds are still dealing with parents who are worried about interracial relationships in the 21st century.

Can we ever get to a point of agreement when, even now, we have polls showing that 90% of blacks still support President Obama as president while the figure is only at 42% for whites? Am I being naive or skeptical in believing that things will ever attain some kind of equal standing for everyone?

What do I want? Here’s 5 things I want:

1. I want people to stop using “black” as the whipping entity for their negative positions. I’m tired of people saying what they want to say, then apologizing after the fact when we all know they’re lying.

2. I want people to stop thinking black people can’t be articulate or intelligent across the board. I’m tired of hearing “you’re so articulate” as if it’s a surprise.

3. I want people to stop saying black people are whining because we talk about problems overall. Did I make up any of the numbers above? You can’t fix what you can’t acknowledge, and that includes racism.

4. I want other people to notice the same things I do when it comes to inequities and lack of minorities in places and situations. Think of Avatar; how many minorities did you see in that movie? Last year’s Star Trek only had two black people in it. The hospital where my wife works has many black people in housekeeping & other maintenance areas, but in technical areas, nursing etc, the percentages are extremely low. As a matter of fact, every hospital in the area except the state university hospital is like that, and I’m not just talking in my particular city.

5. I want more people of all races to participate in programs like we have here in Syracuse called community wide dialogue. Its purpose is to bring people of different racial and economic backgrounds together to talk about race in a safe environment. I participated in the program back in 2003 and found it quite illuminating, if also for the fact that we had 4 people drop out of the program during its six weeks, and all of them were white. If we can’t talk with each other in a safe environment, we can’t talk to each other anywhere.

So, Happy Black History Month; take a moment out for the present as well, please.