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#446555 - 02/19/09 12:14 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: Paul Mihalka]  
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smiller Offline
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Quote:
One of the strongest impositions of PC is that we are all created equal. We have the same rights, we have to have the same respect, but we are not equal.

I agree that all human beings are not equal in every respect, most of us have our talents and our weak points, and yes, some have the innate capability to truly excel and some seem incapable of producing much no matter what opportunities are provided. The 'created equal' phrase is more poetic and looks better in print but I think what it really means is that all citizens should, within reason, be provided with at least an opportunity to achieve equal success, and then they will make of it what they will. We don't always do that well now, and I'd have to disagree that all citizens truly enjoy the same rights and level of respect. Of course in adulthood one earns rights and respect and that's as it should be, but in order to provide a level playing field in later life there needs to be equal opportunity in the developmental stages and we're still not doing that uniformly well, and I think some of it does have to do with inherent prejudice. The formal barriers to minority involvement in society are falling rapidly (including the rather striking recent example), but I'm not sure that we can quite yet consider the job done.

#446556 - 02/19/09 12:16 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: beemerman2k]  
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I simply don't fall into any category that I'm aware of when I think in terms of ethnicity or culture. I am an American first, a family man second and I happen to have a job. I've found it incredibly divisive to start differentiating any more than that. I won't call myself a german/american or an english/american or an irish/american even though I'm some of that too. When President Obama and others call him an Afro American I cringe. He's as much a caucasian as he is a black man in my view. There are no formulas, percentages or measurements that change my opinion. We are who we are and we naturally gravitate to those things we have in common and thus you're here with us joining us in our conversations and I would continue to see it that same way if we were talking in person. I must say that I find that this differentiation often comes from black Americans as it does from anyone else. My hope is we'll all some day, get over it and get on with being American's.
Bruce


"If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else"

07 Kawasaki Versys
#446558 - 02/19/09 12:23 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: beemerman2k]  
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As the other black man on this board, I guess I feel obligated to say something here.

Beemerman2k, I will join you in the "free-for-all" ring as well, and I will also ask of the other members to please just say what's on their minds, and not necessarily what they think they have to say in order to maintain political correctness. Along those lines, the Tee has also been accused of having extreme viewpoints, and not even on this board.

And I have to agree with you, we make better cowboys than we do farmers! Yee haw!

#446559 - 02/19/09 12:31 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: smiller]  
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smiller:The formal barriers to minority involvement in society are falling rapidly (including the rather striking recent example), but I'm not sure that we can quite yet consider the job done.
Sorry, Seth, but that's not my experience. For 12 years, I've worked with a wide variety of private and public companies; and, my anecdotal experience is clear. Blacks are significantly underrepresented in supervisory or leadership positions. That can only be for one reason.

As I write this, I try to picture a Black person in any of our client companies who holds an executive position and I can't. Today, I worked with a school corporation and there was a Black woman in the group, but I don't count governmental agency hiring of Blacks as the type of progress we need.

Three years ago, we hired a young Black woman to lead one of our smaller departments. She earned her stripes and is now a my peer in position and opportunity; has demonstrated initial success and, with experience, will likely be very successful. She will be the only or one of the few Black female consultants working directly with CEOs and business owners we know.

I would challenge anyone one reading this thread who works for a public or private but non governmental organization to tell us how many Blacks occupy executive positions in their companies. I hope I'm wrong, but I'd bet it's very few.

Last edited by JohnRan; 02/19/09 12:32 AM. Reason: spelling

I was in Switzerland recently and I didn't see one person with a knife!
#446562 - 02/19/09 12:39 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: John Ranalletta]  
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My use of the phrase 'falling rapidly' was intentionally vague. I didn't mean to imply that I think we're anywhere near reaching full equality in the ways you described, and in fact I agree with your assessment. The tricky and pothole-filled question is why things are as they are. I'm not sure I agree that there's only one reason, but what do you think it is?

#446564 - 02/19/09 12:42 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: beemerman2k]  
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I have a sort of different take on it from Eric Holder.

I think there is a place and a time for discussing sensitive subjects, which isn't every place and all the time. Discussing race isn't, or shouldn't be, such a "sensitive" subject anymore, after more than a half century of hashing out the equality of the races, not to speak of the hundred years or so before that when issues such as slavery were decided. There are newer issues which are perhaps even more sensitive than that.

There was an editorial in our local paper recently, which made a lot of sense to me. The writer was a member of the Davis, CA city council. Some group wanted the city council to consider issuing a proclamation in support of the Palestinians. This caused a heated debate, spanning several meetings, with testimony pro and con from a lot of people who were emotionally involved in the issue. I don't remember what the council finally did about it, nothing, I think. But her point was that this issue had absolutely nothing to do with the city business of Davis, CA, and that the city council had lots more germane things to consider, including the fact that Davis, like so many other municipalities, is under water financially and needs to do something about that. Her further point was that not only was this a distraction from city business, but open discussion of the issue had created fractures within the community that didn't previously exist. That a sense of hostility between groups of people was created by open discussion of the issue, that hadn't existed before. Is this hostility in the city of Davis, CA, a useful and necessary step to take in the eventual resolution of the disputes between the Palestinians and the Jews, or is just a gratuitous source of ill feeling, like flipping someone off in traffic?

I assume the same result would have occurred if the city council had been asked to issue a proclamation for or against homosexual marriage, which is another hot issue.

Probably nobody these days would ask for the Davis city council to issue a proclamation on race, because they consider themselves so far beyond that that there is nothing they could proclaim that everybody doesn't already agree with. Now that's probably not true, is it? What if somebody asked the Davis city council to issue a proclamation in favor of paying compensation to the descendants of slaves. I'm sure that would stir up a hornet's nest. But is that a hornet's nest that needs poking, or is it better to let race relations evolve as various remaining inequities are sorted out relatively quietly through the courts or various other venues that exist for those purposes?

I think it's entirely possible for two neighbors to live next to each other for 30 years who don't like each other, don't approve of each other's habits, and don't want to associate with each other, but who smile across the driveway to each other if they happen to go out at the same time to pick up the newspaper in the morning. Would it be a mutual benefit for them to have an honest discussion of their mutual dislikes? No doubt, if they did so, they would find that some of their dislikes are based on misconceptions and not reality. Others wouldn't change. Is it better for me to know specifically why my neighbor doesn't like me, or is it better to just realize that the chemistry isn't there, and I should look elsewhere for my friends?

In saying that you shouldn't have to discuss issues of race or other sensitive issues at all times and all places in order to not be a coward, I'm not saying that you should go through life with blinders on, either. We saw what happened when many Germans did that during WWII, and when many Americans did that with respect to race at many times during our history. I'm saying, get involved when you can make a difference, not when it's just stiring the pot. Granted, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.

Last edited by Dave McReynolds; 02/19/09 01:10 AM.

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. ~Einstein
#446566 - 02/19/09 12:47 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: beemerman2k]  
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Originally Posted By: beemerman2k
I suppose I can sympathize with those who might hold back; these days, you say something non-PC, you are immediately labeled a "racist".


Yeah, that's kind of the short version.

A lot of white people, myself included, have been somewhat put on the defensive by minority groups who have tuned themselves to be highly offended at the slightest misstep on the part of others. Al Sharpton is leading the charge yet again today; the cartoon is indeed in poor taste, though I don't believe race played any part in it at all. Sharpton's not the only one though, and it kind of gets to me after a while. If there was a time when the average black person felt that most white folks looked down on him, I can't help but think that the tables may have been turned.

The coverage last fall of the Bradley Effect and its possible impact on the presidential election is a good example. Consider this quote from a CNN article last fall:

From the beginning of this electoral season, pollsters and pundits alike have warned that Obama needs a six- to nine-point lead to overcome the so-called "Bradley Effect," which is nothing more than a sanitary way of saying people are hung up about race.

The effect is named after Tom Bradley, the 1982 California gubernatorial candidate who led in the polls right up until the votes were counted.

While willing to tell pollsters they would vote for a minority candidate, the theory goes, some California voters just couldn't stomach casting a ballot for a black man once the curtain was drawn and nobody was looking.


The author implies that white voters who tell pollsters they'll vote for Obama but ultimately vote for someone else driven by racist motives. I contend the opposite: they are (for the most part) color-blind, but are absolutely terrified of saying anything that makes them appear racist. That would include telling an anonymous pollster that do not plan to vote for Obama.

Am I a coward? Maybe. At work last month we were given permission to take an hour or so off and watch the inauguration ceremony on the TV in the lunch room. There were maybe 25 of us in there - mostly white people, and a couple of black women. One of them was visibly happy, to the point of applauding during the actual oath. The rest of us were pretty low-key. I felt uncomfortable, I guess because it was apparent that race mattered to her. I'm not sure, I'm making this up as I go along here. I guess it wasn't clear to me whether she felt like Obama's presidency was was a victory over racism, or a victory over white people. When the subject of race comes up I'm never really sure, I guess. I get tired of thinking about it sometimes, and wish for King's dream, i.e. that one day none of us will give a rat's ass about skin color.

David has put his big stinky foot down by insisting on calling you black, and I guess that's another area for discomfort. No one is sure what to call each other any more. Supposedly "negro" and "colored person" are offensive, which leaves me wanting an explanation for the continued existence of the United Negro College Fund and the NAACP. African-American seems like such a clumsy word. Seven syllables instead of one: black. That's the engineer in me I guess, pushing for an economy of ink. And "black" is unacceptable because...? There's some stigma associated with the color black? Really? Because it doesn't accurately describe the color of a black person's skin? Heh. White doesn't explain my skin either. We could go with brown and beige if we wanted to be more accurate.

Anyway, yeah, maybe we are a nation of cowards. But there have been enough examples of people being publicly crucified or losing their jobs, just for being perceived as racist, that I think a lot of reasonable-minded white folks are keeping their heads down purely out of a sense of self-preservation.

Don't even get me started on the whole "niggardly" fiasco. That's a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

#446570 - 02/19/09 01:00 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: beemerman2k]  
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I think we may have left "skin color" issues behind us. As in, "You look different, and it causes me to ______ (fill in the blank) you!" Typical fill-ins used to include, hate, fear, feel superior, feel inferior. We moved on to who was majority, and who was minority in terms of sheer numbers, and while still divided along "racial" lines it hasn't really had much to do with skin color per se. More about power, who has it, and who doesn't. At least in metropolitan areas of this country, we've left that pretty much behind, and in terms of media, music, movies, the arts, etc., we've "almost" left that behind us in terms of representation that begins to resemble reality. And over time, and with opportunity, there seems to be the beginning of a sort of leveling out in most other areas of life in America. Certainly President Obama's victory means something significant, even if it isn't "the end of the issue."

What we have left over are huge cultural divides along skin color lines, that have nothing to do with skin color. In some ways, those may be harder to get beyond than mere skin color differences. I'll use the term "Black Culture" only because I can't think of a better one, as the primary example. Some in the black community have attempted to define for all in that community what "Black Culture" is, and it seems to have become a litmus test for some sort of black "authenticity" that one must have to have a voice in the black community. At least that's how is seems to an old, fat, white guy.

I'll use another term, "mainstream," again only because I sort of know what I mean by it, and can't think of a better term. Some in the black community who have "mainstreamed" are branded as inauthentic, Uncle Tom, or traitor. Talk about confusing to the rest of us. "Mainstreaming" looks like access and success in sharing the American Dream, but there is what feels to me like a rising sentiment among some that it is a "White" American Dream and blacks should not aspire to it for that reason.

My comments, of course, are a gross oversimplification of a very complex situation. I can certainly understand the desire and need for cultural identity "of one's own," and even the desire for one that isn't one "picked out for us" by a majority culture. But it does create an obstacle to "moving forward" toward the salad bowl, if not the melting pot, and it is distressing to me.

A long time ago I learned some valuable things about institutional racism, white male power, and some other things that made me think long and hard about the lenses I look through as I observe the scene. I consciously work toward reconciliation in a personal sort of way, never knowing if I'm helping or not.

I don't think we're cowards, I think we're uncertain about how to communicate effectively. We're worried about being misunderstood. We're worried that unless we use "just the right PC signals" that we'll be considered "this or that."

I too admire this place for its frankness, combined with both sharp humor, and the governing sense of "good will" that for the most part provides a context for discussion.




Scott Adams

"Today, if you hear His voice...."
#446588 - 02/19/09 01:30 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: Couchrocket]  
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Try growing up in Rural Georgia from a family that was devastated 150 years ago by the "war of Northern Aggression". My parents moved up north when I was 9, so I lost probably 90% of my racist opinions. I was in Ohio from 9 to 25. There was 1 black guy in my high school graduating class. You want separation of the races head up to the suburbs in the North. Here in the south, we mostly live in harmony. (Don't tell the media; they think we all hate each other) My perception (and that of the iddie bittie dynamite professor at Ohio State) is that up North, blacks are loved as a race, but despised as individuals. In the South, blacks are hated as a race, but loved as individuals.

For me, it is not about the color of your skin; it is about the economic class you are in. I don't want to hang around in poor black areas or poor white areas. I don't wish to hang with black or white poorly educated people; I want to have an intelligent conversation. If I see a young man walking towards me, I may get apprehensive, and cross the street. Color is not the issue. A white boy or a black boy could be a threat. I don't want to go to a Baptist church whether it is a "black" church or a "white" church. Some says that these thoughts make me a racist. Nope, not this time.

Your comments about blacks not working in upper management is probably mostly true; this is also true for women, American Indians (still can't say native Americans), Asians, people from middle eastern decent... As a previous employee of Merrill Lynch, Stan O'Neal was the president that made a name for himself. Was very aggressive, and I got laid off during his tenure. Am/was I mad; hell yes, not because he was black, but because he was selfish; I lost a lot of money thanks to him. When he was making $$ for the firm, all was well. When the market fell apart, he took the blame. That is what a CEO does.

I will say, I have had more positive experiences with black people in the service industry since Obama was elected than I have had in a long time. On several ococcasions, I went to restaurants, and people seemed happy to be there. Coincidence? You decide...


Dianne

#446590 - 02/19/09 01:37 AM Re: US: A Nation of Cowards on Racial Matters [Re: Dave McReynolds]  
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I wanted to review all the responses to date to this before making any comments. Thanks to beemerman2k, clearly not a coward, for raising this issue.

Originally Posted By: beemerman2k
Aside from my daily life experiences, I often rely on this web forum for an indication as to where the USA stands on various issues, including race matters. To the degree that this web forum is an indicator of the general population, the USA is a very different country today than the one I grew up in.

I don't agree that this forum is an indicator of the general population. In my limited participation (just under a year) the members of this forum are generally better informed than the general population (a large portion of whom cannot find the United States on a world map, who think "Africa" is a country, and that Iraqis and Iranians are all "Ayrabs).

I will, however, accept that things have changed greatly in the past 50 years. I entered first grade the very year of Brown vs. Board of Education; prior to that, the town I grew up in Delaware had separate schools for black and white students. I remember my father telling me, before my first day of school, that things were changing, and I shouldn't treat any of my classmates differently because of their skin color. On the other hand, last fall my mother referred to me as a "traitor to his class" for voting for Barack Obama, so perhaps things haven't changed all that much.

I was a student at the University of Michigan in April 1968, and I vividly remember when the news of the MLK assassination hit the airwaves, one of my room mates said, "Good, somebody finally shot that nigger." It's a remark I will never forget, and made me realize that racism was pervasive, not just limited to the south.

Originally Posted By: Paul Mihalka
OK, now I'll get into trouble. One of the strongest impositions of PC is that we are all created equal.

This is hardly PC, since "all men are created equal" dates back to the founding of our country. It's ironic though, that Jefferson owned slaves; at the time, they were property, not people, so even for Thomas Jefferson some people were created more equal than others.

At the risk of getting myself into trouble, I worked in Saudi Arabia (where slavery wasn't banned until 1962) for 5 years. The Saudis are the worst racists I have ever encountered, and as far as I was considered, their American employees were treated as "house niggers." We were tolerated because they needed us, but we were only barely better than dirt. Since I had a choice (I could leave -- as soon as I got my passport back from my employer), this isn't equivalent to growing up black in this country, but at least I have some direct experience of being a despised minority, which isn't the case for most caucasians in this country.

So, to some degree, I agree with AG Holder. Can you imagine Mel Brooks releasing "Blazing Saddles" today? Every time I have watched it on TV, they have bleeped the sound track. Having an African-American president is an opportunity to finally begin discussing these issues more openly.


Don't fix it if it ain't broke, don't break it if you can't fix it.
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