26 May 2010
Eradication of Racist Roots Robert Alan once said, “Our global community has come a long way in helping to eliminate discrimination, but we still have far to go.” Throughout history, this issue of social inequity has been an immense problem which we still continue to struggle with today. Although racist attitudes are not as outwardly apparent as they were many decades ago, the crisis certainly remains in our current society. Many people are not aware of the extent to which discrimination manifests itself in the homes and schools of society. Regardless, action needs to be taken. This despicable prejudice is illustrated in Chris Crutcher’s inspirational teen novel, Running Loose. By thoroughly analyzing present day discriminatory incidents and contrasting these occurrences with the novel’s main characters, Coach Jack Lednecky and Louie Banks, it is evident that Crutcher’s novel allows the reader to acknowledge this societal problem and learn the importance of eradicating racism, especially in the lives of teenagers. To begin, despite various historical efforts to end racism, the horrible dilemma remains throughout civilization. Current racial injustice was displayed through the case of the “Jena Six.” In 2006, six African American students attending Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana, were arrested after a fight in which a white student was beaten after taunting an African American student with racial slurs. The six African American students were charged with attempted murder, facing a lifetime in prison. Meanwhile, white students at the school committed various hate crimes, notably the “White Tree”, a tree which only white students could sit under. Conversely, incidents such as these were merely dismissed as “pranks”. Following the incident, many African American families and students from around the globe protested in favour of the six students: “Demonstrators in September took to the streets of the small town of Jena to protest how authorities handled the cases of Bell and five other teens accused of beating white student Justin Barker in December 2006. The incident was a culmination of fights between blacks and whites” (CNN). Because of their support, charges against the six students have been reduced, however, they are still not free and justice has not been served. Similarly, Crutcher’s Running Loose displays racial prejudice through the high school football coach, Jack Lednecky - a man who would stop at nothing to win a football game. Louie Banks, the novel's protagonist, describes him: “One reason I didn't make it big in football before this year was that I wouldn't cream the little guys in practice. Lednecky always wanted everybody to go all out against everybody, and that meant if you came up against a 95-pounder in the meat grinder, you took his head off” (Crutcher 15). Consequently, it was not surprising that when Coach Lednecky discovers that the star player of the opposing team, Kevin Washington, is African American, he orders his players to injure him. Hoping to guarantee victory in a crucial game, Lednecky makes an immoral decision inspired by his racist persona. “He’s a black kid. A Negro...I played with the blacks up at the U, and there’s only one way you can stop them. That’s to hurt em’. I want this Washington Negro out of the game. Early!” (Crutcher 48). By offensively describing and secluding the African American race, Coach Lednecky effectively portrays his racial ignorance.
Fortunately, on the opposite side of the spectrum, a strong societal effort still exists in hopes of abolishing racism. For instance, the United Nations Association in Canada fights against prejudice through the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Each year on the twenty-first of March, the Canadian Government hosts contests such as the “Racism. Stop It! National Video Competition.” This popular event challenges Canadian youth to express their