Commentary: Racial sensitivity 101


By Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

In the past week I have had to deal with stories where a north central Indiana Tea Party “leader” used a tamale reference with

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org.

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org.

regards to a Hispanic State lawmaker. A white Indianapolis restaurant owner dresses in blackface as part of New Orleans-themed Fat Tuesday celebration. And in Bedford at a high school semi-final basketball game where the locals are facing a predominantly black school from Indianapolis, as part of the festivities some of the students come out in safari garb chasing gorillas.

Commentary button in JPG - no shadowFor those of you who get it I will let all that sink in for just a moment.

Yes, in 21st-century America this type of nonsense still takes place, but what was even more ridiculous was that even when these folks got called on the carpet in social media they can’t grasp the fact that they might have done something inappropriate.

Now, before someone tries to accuse me of being hypersensitive, let me put all that to rest. One of my favorite films is Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.” That should clearly demonstrate that I not only have a pretty good sense of humor, but I also don’t offend easy.

Now, back to the topic at hand.

Like I said, I do not offend easy and do think there are plenty of times where people look for race when it is really not an issue. I can tell you a ton of stories from my college days in which black students who did poorly tried to accuse the professor of being prejudiced, when in fact the only real bias the instructors had was against laziness and poor work. I also think a person can have an issue with President Barack Obama, but that does not mean he or she is going home at night, taking the sheets off the bed, cutting two holes in them and then heading off to the local cross burning.

But seriously, dressing up in blackface and putting on gorilla costumes when the black basketball team comes to town? Really? And then you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong? That to me is the bigger sin in all these controversies. Everyone is entitled to exercise some bad judgment on occasion. However, when it is pointed out, the very least a person can do is pull a “my bad” and not do it again. There is no need to call the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, but there is a need for people to be more aware of the world around them.

Face it, folks, as much as some people may not like it, America is a lot more brown and black than it used to be. And that’s a good thing. It shows that as a country we can grow and evolve over time and celebrate our diversity while still maintaining our universal values of freedom and liberty. However, that only works when we don’t do stupid things like use tamale references when talking about a Hispanic lawmaker.

That type of behavior doesn’t get you anywhere. The only thing it gets you is called out because at the end of the day you look like either a racist or an idiot and neither is a very good option.

Abdul is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org. He is also a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets. He can be reached at


  1. Get over it, Abdul. There is a lot more black racism than white racism, but blacks are not normally prone to discuss such. All racism should be condemned not just when it affects your color. When blacks start condemning their hucksters and their own racists I’ll say we’re making progress. From a percentage standpoint, there is a lot more black crime and black racism than white crime and racism.

    • You get over it apollos. The two incidents described in that article are blatant racism and it seems the ones who did it are too stupid to even know. They should have been called out for it.

      Imagine if the team from Bedford had traveled to Indy and the cheer squad was chanting “BEAT THEM CRACKERS”. While such a thing would probably not even make the news the kids would rightfully have been offended. There is no place for blatant racism from either race.

      • I’ll get over it as soon as I start seeing blacks and Muslims begin to critique their own for being one-sided in their racism and their hatred of others. A perfect example are the blacks who are hitting Jews with ball bats or the Muslims who are exterminating the Christians from the Middle East. Go file a grievance somewhere while you’re resting on your employer’s dime, Tough Guy.

        • ….what APPOLLOS is trying to say is “I’m a bigot and a racist. I like it. Leave me alone.”

          At least he’s honest.

  2. I blame the bad judgment involved in both of these incidents on ignorance & insensitivity.
    Is it possible many blacks bring it on themselves by constantly bombarding us w/ the race card? Probably so.
    Whatever the real reasons were for carrying out these incidents cannot & does not excuse the bad behavior.

    • Is it not possible that many whites initiate crude and insensitive acts of racism because they know they can get away with it without anything more than 15 seconds of media fame and a bar full of rednecks to pat them on the back?

    • Thanks for the support. I figure my half-life on these forums is such that I need to deliver my ammo as quickly as possible.

      • Wear armor. I’ll do what I can short of stopping one with your name on it. I was actually worried about you. Wife asks occasionally, stay away from her and my Jack Daniels brownies.

        • Thanks. I do wear Underarmor and will continue. Yes, I’m having more wives asking about me lately since the advent of texting. I see a conspiracy developing. Any way of testing a shot of those Tennessee brownies without losing my anonymity?

          • I’ll figure something out the next time she makes some. (Could involve the reverend). Now I’ve got to have my wife’s phone forensically gone over.

  3. I get offended in most grocery store when I look up at the sign in aisle 5 with the work “crackers”, instead of saltines. Wish I had a “WAACP” to support me!

    *this was meant in good fun!

    • I know it was, ‘strong! I usually stay away from these discussions because, with two biracial grandsons – they were my only grandchildren for 12 years – I get “wound up” on the subject.
      I have always hated the “N-word” and its counterparts for other minorities, but there is no reason for people to be hypersensitive to the point that they can’t joke with eachother, either.

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