Racism starts young

My 5th grader came home from school and told me that all the kids were saying that people should vote for Obama because he’s black.

I asked, “Do they know anything else about him?”

“No,” she replied.  “They’re just saying [read:  their parents are just saying] that people should vote for him because he’s black.”

My next question:  “Should people vote against him because he’s black?”

“Oh, no,” she answered.  “That’s racist.”

“Then why,” I asked, “is it any less racist to vote for him simply because of the color of his skin?  Any decision we make about someone solely because of their skin color is racist. People should be voting for him based on his experience, skill, and beliefs, not because of his skin color.”

Either because she’s smart, or because she’s a “yes” girl when it comes to her own mother, my daughter agreed that I had a point.  That’s good.  What’s sad is that it seems as if a substantial number of kids in her school are being taught that the only thing that matters is a person’s race.  Martin Luther King is rolling in his grave at this inversion of his Dream.

42 Responses

  1. No, Martin Luther King Jr. is rolling in his grave because people who are intelligent and educated in every other way still have no clue what racism really is.

  2. […] is being described above is precisely the same type of racism my daughter is having foisted on her by her classmates, little kids who are channeling the ideology of their liberal parents:  to make up for past bad […]

  3. Good for you, Book. You are teaching your kids to think critically and independently. You are a good parent!

  4. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a day when his children would be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character. Book’s daughter is being told that it doesn’t matter what Obama’s character is, just look at his skin color and judge from that; skin color is all that matters. Helen, I appreciate your coming here because you add a voice of dissent and that is useful, but this one seems pretty cut-and-dry.

  5. Lissa, my thoughts exactly, both about how I understand MLK’s vision, and how I appreciate the thoughtful debates Helen’s visits inevitably stir.

  6. Lissa and Bookworm, What I have said could invoke study. It will inevitably invoke rhetoric concerning liberals and confirmation of the sad slow-moving status quo.

    King lived 5 years after he gave the “I Have Dream Speech.” The man who was killed in Memphis was not the same man who spoke in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Don’t take my word for it (LOL): Check it out.

  7. And BTW, has it occurred to you that maybe the people who will vote for Obama think his character is fine? He’s young and inexperienced. But what are his crimes?

  8. You’re absolutely right, helenl, that MLK changed radically in the years before his death. He became embittered and moved much further left in his politics. But that doesn’t mean that his originally stated dream wasn’t the right one. Also, if you read John McWhorter’s Winning the Race, you’ll see that the “racist” take on MLK’s dream — that is, the decision, not to erase racism, but to replace it with positive racism — went a long way to destroying a thriving black middle class and replacing it with a government funded ghetto welfare.

    As for Obama, I might have voted for him in 2000, when I was a liberal and times looked good. However, even if I were a liberal now, I’d have serious doubts about voting for someone “young and inexperienced” during the troubled times in which we live. The White House is not meant to be a kindergarten class for junior politicians, especially in dangerous times. Let Obama run again in a couple of decades when he’s gotten some political polish and world experience.

    I’ll also note here, as I’ve mentioned in posts, that my husband, who is fiercely liberal, shares my deep concerns about Obama precisely because he is young and inexperienced. He’s frankly terrified of an Obama presidency.

    The problem isn’t Obama’s politics, b/c my husband would happily vote for Hillary — it’s that Obama, solely because he is black (there’s that “good” racism) is being given the equivalent of a free pass into the White House despite the fact that he is manifestly unprepared by age or experience to take on that office. My life and the lives of my children are way too important to be bolluxed up by some misguided liberal “feel-goodism” about race.

  9. King was depressed and tired in his final years, Bookworm. And he was hurt that many blacks turned away from him (and from non-violence). But as he grew lonelier and lonelier, he grew closer and closer to God and spoke most prophetically.

  10. Howdy Bookworm,

    I think it strange that after all the progress we’ve made to become colorblind we are doing this to our kids. I think the majority of the kids growing up are genuinely colorblind, as is evinced by the composition of their groups.

    Then schools come along and tell them they’ve got to treat their black friends differently because their black; their hispanic friends differently because their hispanic; etc.

    Heck, I wasn’t really aware of all this race awareness business until I was in middle school when the schools introduced me to it.

    It sounds bizarre, but the education system’s efforts to force the children to be colorblind actually creates the inverse effect. The system makes children more aware of differences than commonalities and thus gives new life to racism. It places wedges between people and promulgates divisions rather than lifting up our single, common, shared history.

    My friend remembers when there were “White Only” and “Colored Only” fountains in small-town Arizona. The fact that we have a black man who has a real shot at the Presidency and who won the Democratic vote in a white dominated state like North Dakota should be celebrated. Look at how far we’ve come in one lifetime.

    But if one must vote for him, one should do it because of his merits rather than his skin color. That, my friend, is condescending as all hell. It’s like giving a professional basketball player a handicap point advantage because he’s black. What poppycock.

    Obama’s candidacy should be judged by his merits of which he has considerable. To ignore his merits and to instead praise what was given to him by accident of birth demeans his merits, demeans the man and betrays the ideals the Civil Rights movement, which demanded not a handout but the intrinsic right of a human being to be treated as a human being regardless of color.

    Imagine working your entire life for a goal and then when you finally get it, they cite the reason of your achievement as being due to your blond hair. It’s like a cold, wet slap to the face for someone to tell you your efforts meant nothing.

  11. That’s a good article, Helen, but the history of affirmative action’s effects on blacks shows that King was right about theory, and wrong when it came to practical application. Or, perhaps one could say that practical application was a good short term solution to open the doors for blacks into industry and mainstream economics. However, history shows us that 40 years of affirmative action no longer produces any measurable benefits but a dependent black culture and a white culture incapable of measuring each black man and woman as an individual, regardless of color. I find it impossible to believe that this outcome is what King either envisioned or desired.

  12. Thomas, your point about education worsening racism (in a “good” way, of course) rather than erasing it, reminds me of the old kids game: “Whatever you do, don’t say elephant.” Once that idea is planted in your head, all you want to do is say elephant. Some ideas are better left unplanted.

  13. “”Developing a Program”?
    We must develop a program that will drive the nation to a guaranteed annual income. Now, early in this century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation, as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual’s ability and talents. And, in the thinking of that day, the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber. We’ve come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operations of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. Today the poor are less often dismissed, I hope, from our consciences by being branded as inferior or incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands, it does not eliminate all poverty.” MLK

    See “Where Do We Go From Here?” http://www.indiana.edu/~ivieweb/mlkwhere.html

    Note the part about “guaranteed annual income.” This is King speaking.

    King had learned the the fight against racism was intertwined with the fight against poverty and violence (war).

  14. I second Thomas. I was all in favor of affirmative action when I was in school — my argument that if the playing field was fair it wasn’t necessary, but since the field was not level at the moment AffAction* was good and needed. I never stopped to think whether it was EFFECTIVE . . . let alone could make the problem WORSE. Of course, that came to a screeching halt once I joined the work force — I worked my tail off, outperforming everyone else in my group, and earned a promotion. (That’s not ego BTW, that’s a performance score comparison our group regularly put out.) Cue a casual remark from a coworker, assuming that the promotion was given on merits of my being female and a minority (sort of).

    Looking back, I realize I had done the same grave disservice to other “beneficiaries” of AffAction. Take, for example, Clarence Thomas. At the time he became a Sup I hated him with a passion. (Not that I knew any of his history, experience or legal basis for opinions, but that’s beside the point.) I loudly denounced him as a hypocrite for criticizing AffAction while himself being a recipient — he was inheriting The Black Chair at the Supreme Court and never would have been named WITHOUT affirmative action, after all, and then had the gall to dislike it!!!

    . . . you see where I’m going with this. In my mind, the only possible reason Clarence Thomas was a Supreme Court justice was that a seat had been set aside for a black man and he was a black man. No other rationale existed for me. There was never a question of whether he was qualified or not; in fact, I took it as a given that he was NOT qualified. What a great mindset.

    *Sorry, I know “AffAction” is stupid-looking and -sounding, but typing “affirmative action” over and over was too cumbersome, and my comment is WAY too long as it is.

  15. Helen,
    What you are saying, and your link seems to prove it, that Jesse Jackson is a true heir of MLK. How sad. I still like King’s original idea of judging people on the “content of their character”. I’ve seen enough quotas back in the old Soviet Union.

  16. Helen,
    When a government tries to fight poverty, it usually ends up spreading the misery equally. I should know: I grew up in just such a place.
    It is amazing to me that all this garbage, now thoroughly discredited even in what was the old Soviet Union, finds its adherents in the Western world.

  17. Yes, Eric, Jessie Jackson used to get on King’s nerves. But he grew up to “get it.”

    “Operation Breadbasket” was supported by King. King supported affirmative action and other socialistic ideas. But not communism. He was very clear about that.

    And Eric, when a government doesn’t try to fight poverty, it allows inequity to reign. Racism means the ones on top stay on top, not because of “character” but because they are already on top. Heaven forbid any white people (or rich people) have to give up anything. Why we’re too selfish, and we love the status quo to much! We even hide behind what the Constitution means to us, as opposed to what it says.

    Fine. If that’s the way people feel why don’t they just say so not use King for their own purposes.

    We have a long way to go to even think about being colorblind. Early King is a easy to take. Try reading King’s book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.” I think we’ve chosen “chaos” and scream like hell any time someone suggests real “community.”

    Community is fine as long as you play by my rules. LOL

  18. BTW, Bookworm, Lissa, Thomas, Eric, This is great. I’m actually learning a lot. But when “Y-man” starts posting me in bold, I’m gone. That’s just the way it is.

  19. And Bookworm,

    Don’t forget that Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who headed up SNCC during the Civil Rights Movement and spoke on the same platform as King the day in August 1963 when he gave the “I Have A Dream” Speech, is endorsing Hillary Clinton, as is Maya Angelou. What part does racism play in this?

  20. Helen,
    There is a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results. Whenever a government tries to impose the equality of results, you end up with something like Soviet Union. Or, in case of our Democratic Party, a little bit of the Soviet Union.
    Racism does not mean that those who are already on top stay on top. Racism is when I wasn’t allowed to get into many colleges because I was a Jew. That form of racism is better known as Antisemitism, but it is the same thing.
    You don’t know a thing about real racism or real poverty. I am sorry, if I sound angry. But it does angers me when American leftists talk about things they have no idea about.

  21. yes, Eric,

    There is a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results; the difference is dinner and decent housing and health care. That’s the difference.

    So be angry. But I do know what I’m talking about: Poor people.

  22. Hi Eric –

    If you have a moment, could you write a little bit about your life in the Soviet Union and how you experienced the difference between equality of opportunity and the equality of results?

    I would be especially interested in your insight into what happens when a people places such emphasis on equality of results versus equality of opportunity.



  23. This is quite interesting to me vis a vis the racial, and political aspects of people. When my family emigrated to this country there was a law limiting Finns that were a little too “asiatic looking.” I suppose our family was “white” enough.

    Yet at the same time there were red and white Finns based upon political persuasion. The argument that a person’s politics is related to race I personally find specious.

    The very idea that someone wants to use King’s race to prove the verity of his political ideals is in and of itself racist.

  24. […] King was prolific.  He wrote books, sermons, speeches, and magazine articles.  He left us a lot of material from which to draw and fortunately most of it has been preserved.  Yet it is a perversion and a misunderstanding of this man to use his words to declare that we have arrived at the summit of his “dream.”   If one wants to know if blacks have “equality,” which is what King was working toward, he/she might ask a cross section of black people.  Racism in America stemmed from slavery and has nothing to do with how people were treated in the former Soviet Union under communism, as one man suggested in a comment (on Bookworm Room). […]

  25. Everything King said and did stemmed from the fact that he was black and wanted to improve the lives of blacks. At the same time, he was not anti-white. All of his philosophy and theology—yes, he held a PhD—dealt with race. At the same time, he was Christian. In fact, he always believed he was “first and foremost a preacher,” and that was how he served humanity.

    King believed in non-violence as a way of life (not just a strategy to accomplish given goals as some in the civil rights movement did), which is why he did not abandon nonviolence as his popularity waned. King became more radical in thought as he aged. And he became more prophetic.

    For a person to pluck from one of King’s speeches, a word such as “colorblind” and use it to claim King is the same logic people use when they proof-text the Bible and select verses to support a preconceived view, rather than approaching the Bible to learn God’s view.

    King was prolific. He wrote books, sermons, speeches, and magazine articles. He left us a lot of material from which to draw and fortunately most of it has been preserved. Yet it is a perversion and a misunderstanding of this man to use his words to declare that we have arrived at the summit of his “dream.” If one wants to know if blacks have “equality,” which is what King was working toward, he/she might ask a cross section of black people. Racism in America stemmed from slavery and has nothing to do with how people were treated in the former Soviet Union under communism, as Eric suggested in a comment.

    This post began because Bookworm objected to black children saying people should vote for Obama because he’s black, saying “racism starts young.” Bookworm wants her children to learn critical thinking. I can see where she’s coming from. Obama is not my candidate of choice either but for a different reason. Yet race should not be a litmus test any more than abortion ought to be. There are other issues to be considered. Domestic and foreign policy and economics matter. How we treat the poor. Taxes.

    But perhaps people are confusing “racism” with ignorance. What children say often reflects what their parents believe. Sometimes the children get it wrong. Sometimes they speak exactly what they have heard. Racism is alive and well in the US, but it is by no means the only kind of ignorance we have. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowing. I hope to add a clear voice to what King said and taught. Understanding King can be done only by reading primary sources in their entirety. Otherwise, we often get the speaker’s view with supporting quotes from King amid ignorant cries of “reverse racism” and other racist myths that are rearing their ugly heads under politically correct rhetoric and a sentiment that King’s prophecy had an expiration date instead of him being martyred.

    I am posting each day this month on my blog various pieces of black history. Black history is American history from a black point of view. For purposes of education, I will be posting the primary sources (works by King) on my blog tomorrow. The King Project is busy locating, organizing, and categorizing King’s works into what will be a fourteen-volume set upon completion. King was a great man. Let us refrain from perverting his message of equality.

    This comment is cross-posted at my blog.

  26. helenl…

    How do _you_ define racism?

  27. Racism is unjustified prejudice against a given race backed by the power (political and/or economic) to keep them as “second-class citizens.” Both changing the law of the land (mostly done) and the hearts of the “first class citizens” is necessary to eliminate racism and bring about equality.

  28. Helen,
    Racism in this country did not stem from slavery, but rather slavery stemmed from racism. There was a belief that black people were inferior, and thus had to be “taken care of” and used. Furthermore, I remember how I was shocked when a black tour guide in New Orleans told me that the black people in the South did not want to be liberated, precisely because they were taken care of.
    Racism in this country does not have anything to do with the way people were treated in the former Soviet Union. I was merely explaining what real racism is. Just to expand on that, Jews were not the only ones who suffered from that. Many of the republics of the Soviet Union had, if you will, “affirmative action”, when the representative of the local population were given preference at the expense of the ethnic Russians and Ukrainians living there. In fact, it is ironic, but a Jew had a better chance getting into college somewhere in Tashkent than in my native Odessa. So, if I were to support this affirmative action, I should condone this anti-Russian discrimination in Tashkent because I was mistreated in Odessa. Don’t you see the absurdity of that?
    As for pour people, I still contend that you have no idea what poverty is. Poverty is when you are given special coupons to buy 1kilo of meat per month (1981, the city of Velikie Luki). It is when your family is given coupons, or as they euphemistically called “invitations” to 1 kilo of sugar per month (1987, Odessa). Yes, I am talking about rationing, in peacetime. Have you heard of communal apartments? That is, when, let’s say, there is a 3-bedroom apartment that is shared between 3 families. Each includes 2 parents, kids, sometimes grandparents. You have 1 bathroom and 1 kitchen for them all. So, imagine 5 people living in a single bedroom, that also serves as a living room and family room. That’s poverty. As for government-provided health care, we had that in the Soviet Union, for everybody equally. We joked that the health care is free, and we all got what we paid. Of course, if you paid the orderly under the table, you could get a bedpan when needed.
    So, I’ll say again: you don’t know what poverty or racism is. Not only because you’ve never experienced either, but also because you’ve never seen either: it doesn’t exist in this country, save for some crazies on the fringes. Racism is certainly not practiced by the government, as it was in the Soviet Union. In fact, your beloved affirmative action is the closest thing to racism because it prejudges people based on their ethnic or racial origin.
    It is telling that people who come to this country from places like Soviet Union, Cuba or Vietnam tend to be so called conservatives, which really means classical liberals. In fact, I contend that I am a true liberal, in the original sense of the word, not you.
    Black History Month? Why black? Why not English, Irish, German or Jewish? Why not Polish? Why just black? What would you say about White History Month?
    Oh, well. I better stop. I had a few minutes to write this, but now I have to go t work. After all, that is how I get rich.

  29. You are right, Eric, slavery stemmed from racism. What I should have said is that racism in this country began in slavery. You also know your own experience. I’m not about to tell you what happened to you in th Soviet Union or what you should think about it. It is irrelevant. “Your poverty is bigger than my poverty.” That’s like saying, “my Daddy can whup your Daddy.” See how silly it is.

    And I am not wrong about what King said and believed and that racism is alive and well in the US. As to White History Month, it’s a given during the rest of the year. You still don’t seem to get it, which is why Black History Month is so important. Blacks have been the underclass since the times of slavery. If we ever fix that, then we’ll be ready to deal with other minorities (and yes, other exist).

  30. Helen: I agree with you that blacks are still an underclass. However, the deep dive economically and in terms of education that blacks took started with the welfare state. Before that, while blacks were treated abysmally, they were a tight, strong community, with individual members slowly pulling their way up as Jim Crow was, step by step, defeated. It was government management that destroyed the fabric of that coherent, upwardly mobile black society. The question is whether we can undo the damage the “Great Society” policies caused, and I think we can — with less government and more freedom, not more government and less freedom.

  31. The thread I see here, that I think Helen is missing, is that people need to earn and deserve their accomplishments on merit. in order to feel pride. We all know if we deserve reward or recognition or not. Every kid who plays soccer, on every team, gets a trophy. Why try to be the winning team?
    Over-praise for minimal effort is phony. Everyone knows it.

    I worked f or a large urban school district. Rarely did people get promoted on merit. All kinds of administrators moved up, often utterly incompetent. Strict guidelines regarding gender and race were adhered to. The result was that some who really deserved their promotion were promoted indiscriminantly alongside people who were placed there to demonstrate diversity. Some of the people who really deserved the promotions were African-American or Latino. Some who got the promotions were selected because someone determined that they really needed a Latino or African-American in that position.

    That’s no way to run a business. can people really feel good about themselves if they are promoted without accomplishment? It’s not like people are fooled- either the skill is there, or it’s not. There are so many brilliant and talented black people. Their accomplishments should not be doubted because of the phony promotion of others. Just like in the Soviet Union, this kills motivation, ambition, and pride in one’s own accomplishments.

    Helen, you are right. There is no question that there is a black underclass in this country.
    Bill Cosby states that at this point in time the black community needs to look inward at causative factors that keep people mired in poverty and misery- beyond racism.
    These are:
    single mothers and the absence of fathers
    teenage mothers
    substance abuse
    dropping out of school leading to unskilled work force

    The main difference between the black middle class and the underclass are these factors. Don’t they face the same racism? By blaming all problems on racism, you again leave everything to whites to fix. The African-American community needs to address the internal crisis of absent fathers which deny children responsible adult male role models, and the devaluing of education. With all the brilliance and talent in the African American community, if these problems were overcome, affirmative action would be utterly unnecessary and people would know that they themselves addressed and overcame the curses plaguing their communities.

  32. “Less government and more freedom” sounds great. But what’s usually meant, Book, is different government, not less. Take Bush for example, all this Homeland Security is more government, right? Wouldn’t it be neat to just get on a plane? (And yes, I know this is pretty tangent to racism.)

    I don’t think that the “Great Society” policies are really the problem. The real problem that few talk about is that no one (political party or individual) ever finishes what he/she/it/they start. Our political system, whereby we elect a new president every four years and senators and congressmen at regular intervals, means everyone has to be able to accomplish his plan in a given length of time. What if a company had only four years to establish itself before a change of direction? I’m not advocating a change in the election process, just pointing out that some of the programs begun by LBJ never had time to prove themselves. Our salvation from bad politicians and wrong directions is also our weakness in that we set timetables for action. What if . . . . what if.

  33. Lulu, Of course, people need to earn and deserve accomplishments on merit. Touch-feely stuff is silly and lacks meaning. There are things that only black people can do. We cannot turn down the radios in their homes so the children can do their homework; we cannot choose how often they have unprotected sex; we cannot choose how they spend their money or how much they drink or whether or not they use drugs. They have to that themselves.

    But hungry children can’t learn. And those who are behind in school are more likely to drop out than those who are working at grade level or above. There are things we can do to equal the playing field. And we can realize that all of life should not a competition. It is not “phony” to think that even the lazy should eat. We have to do everything we can to eliminate “blacks as an underclass,” which is to say, racism still exists, and we must learn our role in eliminating it.

    Yes, blacks in the middle class face racism. How would you like to earn a PhD only to find that people still think you’re a “nigger.” That’s exactly what got shouted at a black man – from the dorms of the school where he took the job as a professor a few years back. That isn’t good enough!

  34. This is about racism, poverty, and violence. The three are intertwined.

  35. Helen,
    There are stories of Tuskegee Airmen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuskegee_Airmen), Black Panthers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/761st_Tank_Battalion_%28United_States%29) and Red Ball Express (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Ball_Express). There were others as well. Are these stories limited to Black History? Because I view them as part of the overall history of World War 2. Why do these stories have to be separated? Those units were segregated back in World War 2. Why do you want to continue? Why not just say that those men faced idiotic racism and proved themselves, and then concentrate on their heroism, rather than their blackness?
    You seem to want to try to end racism by directing racism in the other direction. But that does not work. The only way to end racism is just to end it. Just recognizing that prejudging people on the basis of their ethnicity is idiotic, to say the least, would go a long way.
    By the way, thank you for visiting my blog and commenting on it. I hope you would read this: http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/why-conservative-liberal/
    This explains why I think that I am a true liberal, while you are not.
    I will copy this also to your blog.

  36. Helen,
    One more thing. My poverty is not bigger than your poverty. Because families with their own apartments, cars, TVs and other stuff are not pour, even if they are less well off than some other people.

  37. Helen –

    If a private company was heading into financial ruin and the CEO went to the board and complained that he was only being given four years to make even the most modest of improvements, he’d be given four minutes to walk out the door.

    How long do you want to see us wait before we can claim that a government program of that nature is not working and at least admit that something else must be the problem?

    I currently work at a hospital that provides health care for a population that is approximately 75% black. It is instructive to observe the differences between the elderly and young black people we see there. The elderly, who certainly experienced a racism that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren cannot even imagine, tend to be the ones who made something of themselves . . . meaning that they started with nothing and without help from anyone other than family and friends, and built something. A career, a little business, whatever.

    The young . . . well, it’s a different story. You simply can’t GIVE them enough to help them get themselves to a better place.

    One day, we were providing care to some little kids in a free daycare clinic. Almost all were black. One kid right after another came up with cavities in their baby teeth that I previously would have said were impossible to have. (It is disconcerting to look in the mouth of a four year old and realize that he has a “grill” and is proud of it.) Their teeth literally were worn down in half, Helen.

    So I asked if there was a free dental clinic available. Sure, there was. But I was told that the parents just didn’t go. They sometimes said they didn’t have transportation. But that is ridiculous – all the parents had cell phones and tvs. They somehow got their kids to the day care centers. All the little girls had some pretty fancy clothes and hairstyles. And the little kids would tell us of things they did with their families. Bottom line: if the families had made it a priority, the kids would have received dental care and a lot of other assistance to boot. They chose not to.

    You are right – racism does exist in America. (Although as Eric clearly demonstrated, America never held the monopoly on it.) But there is only so much that government programs and concerned white people can do. Until more black Americans start standing up and addressing the issues that Lulu raised:

    – single mothers and the absence of fathers
    – teenage mothers
    – substance abuse
    – dropping out of school leading to unskilled work force

    we will never, ever see the end of the black middle class, no matter how many more fabulous programs we fund.

    For those interested, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has been working on a series of TV shows called African American Lives. In it, he researched the ancestors of several black Americans and then met with them to show them what he found. In case after case, what you see are black Americans who were literally 5-60 years out of slavery who did really extraordinary things for their community. They purchased land and then sold it at a loss to build a school. They ran for office and won. They started businesses. It really is a beautiful, often painful, but necessary show . I don’t know what exactly motivated Gates to do it but it showcases what black Americans were able to achieve BEFORE the advent of massive federal programs in the face of horrid, unforgiveable racism when black Americans were grounded in much stronger family environments. A google search would probably pull up the information needed for those who would like to catch the rest of the series.


  38. I am wondering why Helenl assumes that the children who said people should vote for Obama because he is black were black children. It never occured to me to assign a color to them until I saw that Helenl had.

    If I had to guess, I would suppose the vast majority of these children were white, because Bookworm so often tells us she lives in a liberal enclave in California.

    Most areas dominated by people with left wing leanings have been quite effective at weeding out the poor and the black populations through local zoning laws and local ordinances.

    I also find Helenl’s definition of racism to be quite interesting:

    “Racism is unjustified prejudice against a given race backed by the power (political and/or economic) to keep them as “second-class citizens.”

    I understand the reasoning behind including the part about ‘backed by the political power’ – it is meant to exclude the possibility of black people in America being racists. I’ve heard that often enough..black Americans are incapable of racism because they don’t have the political power to enforce it in any way.

    What makes that so interesting to me though, is that this definition also excludes the possibility of racism on my part (and a whole lot of other people I know).

    I, a white southerner, am not capable of racism…..imagine that!

  39. Half the battle in a debate is getting people to accept YOUR definitions.

    What is racism?

    “Racism is unjustified prejudice against a given race backed by the power (political and/or economic) to keep them as “second-class citizens.”


    “Racism is unjustified prejudice against a given race.”

    I’ve heard poor people – of Black, White, and Hispanic origin – expressing the foulest opinions of other people based solely upon their race. In every way I found these opinions to be deeply racist. It required no power structure for me to identify their comments as clearly racist.

    If “black people”, as a race, are second-class citizens who are the victims of racism, then what do you do think of a powerful black person who makes statements that are clearly racist?

    When more than half of the white people in a community vote for a Black man to have political power over them, how can you claim that racism is alive and well in that community? By that first definition, how can you?

    “Racism is unjustified prejudice against a given race backed by the power (political and/or economic) to keep them as “second-class citizens.”

    The problem with a definition such as this one is that to believe it you are already functioning completely at the level of Identity Politics. The worth of the individual is already completely negated. The very idea of judging an individual based solely on the content of his character – or on the worth of his actions – is negated.

  40. […] A couple of days ago Bookworm posted a story about kids in her daughter’s school saying that people should vote for Obama because he ….  This started a discussion, in which I participated.  There was also a nice lady named Helen, […]

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