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Job Relief and Blacks and White Man on Whites
Â Mainstream media seldom runs stories or commentary deemed outside of its skewed parameters. Today's column consists of excerpts from two quite different articles. The first, "Tailoring Job Relief to America's Diverse Communities," is by John A. Powell, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio State University; the second, "When Are We Going to Get Over It?", by Andrew Manis, Macon's Center for Racial Profiling. Both pieces underscore the continuing significance of race in America, a reality systematically minimized in the white press.
John A. Powell: "As President Obama tackles the financial crisis, his policies must address the economic distress unevenly affecting Americans. The White House has two responses to this issue: one, that the president cannot focus solely on African Americans; he must be concerned with all Americans. The other response suggests that African Americans and other communities of color-disproportionately affected by foreclosures, lack of health insurance and joblessness-will be the primary beneficiaries of a universal economic recovery program for all Americans.
"The first statement suggests that to be concerned about the condition of African Americans as a whole would be too narrow and parochial. The second statements' flaw lies in its claim that universal remedies can be address without pandering to the interests of one group or ignoring the concerns of others. On most issues, the goal of Blacks or Latinos is no different than the goal of whites. What stands apart are the varied needs of each group that must be met to reach these goals, not merely because of race but because they have different opportunities and structures for advancement.
"The housing bubble that contributed so greatly to the recent economic collapse hit Blacks and Latinos particularly hard-many were systematically victims of predatory lending. And how do we make sense of government jobs programs that help lower the unemployment rate for the overall population while unemployment continues to rise for people of color?
"Stimulus programs emphasizing "shovel ready" projects have poured money into a construction industry that continues to be heavily staffed by white men. How is such an effort focusing on the needs of all Americans? The foreclosure program the Administration recently announced offers a more targeted approach, assisting homeowners in states hit hardest by the housing meltdown. Similarly, the jobs bill might set a universal goal that would mean greater job creation in communities hurting most.
"Most Blacks desperately want the president to succeed, not just because he is black, but also because it would be good for the country. We acknowledge that a rising tide may lift all boats. But first, you must have a boat."
Andrew Mannis: "For much of the last forty years, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties, asking,"When are African Americans finally going to get over it?" Now I ask, "When are white Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?" Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame, we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk that I heard growing up in 'Bombingham,' Alabama.
"We white people have controlled political life in the disunified colonies and United States for some 400 years. Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years, but elect a liberal who happens to be Black and we're back in the sixties again. But we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to "assassinate Obama."
"How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior? How long until we end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racist jokes in our white-only conversations? How long before we start 'living out the true meaning' of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and all people are precious in God's sight? I still don't believe I'll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem, but here's my three-point plan: First, every day that Barack Obama lives in the White House that black slaves built, I'm going to pray that God (and the Secret Service) protect him and his family from us white people. Second, I'm going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying, in seriousness or jest, anything of a threatening nature about President Obama. Third, I'm going to pray to live long enough to see America surprise the world once again when white people, 'in spirit and in truth,' sing of our damnable color-prejudice, "WE HAVE overcome."
Larry Aubry can be contacted at e-mail