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Published: Friday, 8/22/2003

Local blacks challanged to resist 'code words'

Khari Enaharo, a Columbus talk-show host and author of the book Race Code War, said people in the United States are bombarded daily with negative images of African-Americans with little to counterbalance the effects.

Mr. Enaharo was the keynote speaker at the Business in the Black forum put on by the Northwest Ohio Black Chamber of Commerce at the Inzone Lounge, 1702 Lagrange St..

“Racists can't come out and use the N-word anymore,” Mr. Enaharo said. “We think racism isn't practiced the same way it used to be. Well, we were right in that aspect. A whole new language, symbols, and images have emerged to keep racism alive.”

Mr. Enaharo, who has written for the Black Communicator in Columbus and is that city's former director of human services, said blacks should start an anti-defamation league that would deal with negative stereotypes and images on a regular basis.

“The Jewish people understand the power of negative words,” Mr. Enaharo said after his speech. “The Arabs understand the power of words. Just about every group except African-Americans have learned about the way racists attach negative meanings to their image.”

Mr. Enaharo used the Kobe Bryant rape case as an example of how news outlets have brought race into that case.

“I've heard sportscasters talk about this is the biggest case since O.J. Simpson,” Mr. Enaharo said. “[O.J. Simpson] was a murder case. It's entirely different. Its only similarity is the fact that you have a black athlete sleeping with a white woman.”

He said there was a recent case in Columbus in which three white people were killed. He said in news reports the media never referred to it as a drug-related murder, even though drugs were found at the scene.

“That is because the term `drug-related' is a code word for black,” Mr. Enaharo said.

Mr. Enaharo said he hopes his book will shed light, or at least start people talking about and debating what he sees as code words.

He said that way, African-Americans can start to eliminate negative images.

“If we don't understand the power of words and images, we will never be able to progress as people,” Mr. Enaharo said.

Karen Ashford, executive director of the black chamber, said she was in a meeting recently with some business leaders where she heard the same terms used in describing areas where most of Toledo's African-Americans live.

“I know I will certainly take a different mindset when I hear these words,” Ms. Ashford said.



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