Are editors of the Lancaster Newspapers latent racists?

By Robert Field

It is a generational thing.   Despite the remarkable progress in civil rights and racial harmony, persons who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s and into the 1960s are likely to have been influenced by racial stereotypes.   Studies have shown that early attitudes become deeply rooted in one portion of the brain.  It takes conscious effort from another portion to offset their influence.

For example, the publisher of NewsLanc, born in the late 1930s, has received the Crystal Staircase Award from the University of Pennsylvania in part for his efforts on behalf of disadvantaged children, almost all African-American or Latino.   Yet he describes himself as a “racist in recovery” and recognizes how prejudices formed in his childhood have to be offset through conscience effort.

The Intelligencer Journal New Era is agog over the success of the J. P. McCaskey basketball team, and prints prominent photos of its many African-American players.  Of course, the stereotype is that blacks are supposed to “jump higher” and be athletic standouts.

The editors also write a prominent article about Manheim Township’s Quiz Ball county champions with a photo of the four white male students, all dressed like preppies.  Of course the stereotype is that white men are supposed to be smarter and our future leaders.

Meanwhile the J. P. McCaskey Mock Trial team wins the county championship without news or photo .   Moreover, last year they won the county, the regionals and went on to defeat team after team from throughout the state and to come in second in the state.  It was a team composed of males and females of different colors and ethnic backgrounds.

In a letter to LancasterOnLine last July, a reader stated:  I am not sure how decisions about reporting news are made, but I would like to see the positive accomplishments at SDL receive as much press as problems in the district.”

We have not met the current McCaskey team, but we do note they are all girls this year.  And from their names, we infer of diverse colors and cultures.

It is not our intention to suggest that the editors of the Lancaster Newspapers mean to show prejudice.  We believe that ownership, management and staff are as committed to equal treatment  as we are.  But the influences from our youth remain throughout our lives.  We have to struggle to recognize and offset them.

Senator Bill Bradley in his earlier career proved that white men can jump.  Barack Obama has shown that a black man can be President.   And the McCaskey mock trial team … or Lancaster Catholic had they won the county final …deserves coverage, a photo, recognition from the media and the esteem of our community.

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Updated: February 15, 2013 — 11:51 am

6 Comments

  1. hear hear!

  2. So, what’s the answer to your headline question? Yes, or no?

    EDITOR: : Like us, they need to be conscience to police past prejudices.

  3. With respect to Bill Bradley, you need to find another example. Bradley, a Princeton grad and Rhodes scholar, was NOT a leaper. He was a player who played with great intelligence. He moved well without the ball, passed well, and had a deadly jumpshot. The jumpshot did not rely on elevation, but on accuracy and shot selection. He broke no new ground in the sport. He was an excellent player, but did not change the stereotype. (One of a very few examples of caucasian “leapers” would be Tom Chambers formerly of the Seattle Supersonics and Phoenix Suns, or Brent Barry, who won the slam dunk competition in the 1990s. But, those examples are too few and obscure to make your point.

    There is a sociological explanation of why blacks play ‘above the rim.’ They play the game differently in the inner city, with more one-on-one plays, rather than the more team oriented basketball of the suburbs. They practice dunking, in other words, more than the whites in the suburbs.

  4. Is that a rhetorical question?

    EDITOR: More than less. It is meant to help sensitize them as well as us that it takes a struggle within ourselves to break from early patterns of thought.

    Yet the editors of the Lancaster Newspapers would do well to occasionally ask themselves the question.

  5. How many staff reporters/editors on the LNP payroll are minorities? That answer will determine if LNP is racist or not.

  6. I’m rather disappointed to even see this article. We’ve seen this country bend over backward in efforts to right the wrongs of past prejudice, so far in fact that we now have many cases of reverse discrimination. The constant focus on race, counting stereotypes, maintaining ratios, etc. is undermining the great progress of the 60’s.

    My suspicion is not that the LNP is racist; they simply want to make money like any smart newspaper. And the fact that the mock trial team does not get the same coverage as basketball is someone’s ax to grind. (I felt much the same way about my favorite SDL activities that took a backseat to basketball & track)

    EDITOR: And Quiz Bowl?

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