Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Experience and Racial Attitudes.
Which leads, somehow, to this: I work in the downtown of a large mid-western city with a MSA population of about 1.5 million. When I look out the front of my building, I see city hall and a Catholic cathedral across the street. When I look out the north side of my building, I see a 12 story subsidized housing apartment building. As far as I can tell everyone that lives there is black except for an elderly Chinese couple. I see the Chinese outside frequently, practicing what appears to be Tai Chi.
The parking lot we use is directly behind the 12 story apartment building. In course of walking to and from our cars, my fellow employees and myself have at least passing contact with the people in the building.
Hostile, race tainted comments from the residents of the building are not uncommon. At least one car was stolen this past spring in broad daylight. Several cars have been broken into with radios and other items stolen. The situation has become so bad that my company has had to hire a private security agency to occasionally patrol the parking lot to try and ensure our safety and prevent theft. We have received emails from our company reminding us to leave in groups and to leave before dark for safety reasons.
Several years ago, as a co-worker was leaving a young boy gave him the single finger salute for no apparent reason other than my co-worker was white. Coincidently, the next day the city experienced a race riot supposedly brought on by the death of a young black man shot while he fled from the police. The police had chased the young man through downtown for 45 minutes before, while in a dark alley, he appeared to reach in his pocket for a gun and the pursuing policeman shot him. The young man had numerous but minor outstanding warrants.
During the riots, the blacks protested by assaulting any innocent white people they could find. Interestingly, of the 80 or so rioters arrested, the overwhelming majority did not live in the area. Some came from over 100 miles away. Recently, the police seem to have relaxed their enforcement of laws in the black community. The murder rate for 2005 is on a record pace with most victims being young black males.
These are just a couple of anecdotes of instances too numerous to mention here.
Leaving work yesterday, one of the young ladies I work with and I were doing the usual jaywalk across the 4 lane one way street to get to our cars. A young black man pulling away from the curb on the opposite side leaned out the window and greeted us with, "Get some f**cking sense." Certainly a courageous act by a man who knows he has a building full of cohorts to assist him if needed.
The young man then pulled into the parking lot, parked his car and went into the building. One could easily question the wisdom of making such a rude remark to someone and then leaving an unattended car.
In the company where I work, most employees have a college education of some sort. While I was attending college, I worked to help support myself, my wife and my daughter and pay tuition. At times, I worked full-time and attended classes full-time. I busted my butt and graduated cum laude with a B.S. and with a 3.97 when I earned my M.S. After I married halfway through my sophomore year my parents no longer gave me any financial support but I persevered.
I'm sure many who successfully complete college have similar journeys, getting a good education is hard work. I've taken approximately two years worth of classes since I last graduated to expand my knowledge, especially in computers.
For doing so, we are rewarded with a decent life and a reasonably comfortable living. I have a small house on a creek in the country with a little over an acre of land. Quiet, rural living, I love it. I listen to the tow boats going up and down the Ohio River. I can hear the trains on the Kentucky side. Both are low rumblings that remind you of the moving world.
My great-grandfather and grand-mother immigrated to America from Germany in the late 19th century. They met on the boat on the way over, fell in love and were married. In my closet I have my great-grandfather's trunk in which he carried all his worldly possessions. The trunk is about 3 feet by 18 inches by a foot deep. He spoke no English but he had the famous German work ethic. Through the efforts of my great-grand parents and grand parents in teaching this work ethic and the quest for achievement, my father became the first person in his family and of his hometown of 30,000 to attain a PhD.
And then there's the people who want to hate me because I'm white and I'm the man or whatever. The people who, somehow, want to think the reason they don't have what they want is because the man is keeping them down. But I know that with enough hard work and perseverance nearly anyone can have a decent life in this country.
Jesse, Al, Screaming Howard Dean and others say we should care more about the poor, down trodden, blacks, etc. They may be right. But with the experiences described above and the images seen on TV, sometimes the very people we're supposed to care about make it extremely difficult to care.
Do I really want to take this exam and attempt to get on another civil service list?
Since 2003, I have participated and completed the State Civil Service process more than a dozen times. In fact, I have tested within the “Rule of Three” mandate (State must hire from within the top three), but they have yet to call me for an interview.
The Civil Service Commission has tactically explained their hiring practice, i.e., Pennsylvania agencies often “opt out” and instead use a little known exception to the process (management directive that grants an unfettered discretion) that allows them to ignore the employment list and promote almost any available lower classification (a current employee).
The Commonwealth’s excuse for not hiring me is no different that the excuse a local temporary employment agency (Robert Half International) recently provided. That is, despite the fact that I scored a perfect 100 percent on their required testing (the average score for everyone else is only 85 percent), and was given an almost perfect score for my interview, the employment agency has insisted since August 2004 that it can’t place me. And, the Pittsburgh EEOC district office, a federal regulatory agency with authority to enforce Title VII has suggested that there appears to be nothing wrong with the company’s reason for not placing me: Robert Half claims its clients continue to select (whites) other candidates who have tested well below my scores and have inferior work experience and there is nothing they can do about it.
Nonetheless, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (Nation of Islam) has challenged all of us to rise above the things that have kept us divided in the past. The agenda of his Millions More Movement is to see how all of us, with all our varied differences, can come together and direct our energy, not at each other, but at the condition of the reality of the suffering of our people. He has directed us to use all of our skills, gifts and talents to create a better world for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the like. True That (word is bond)!
I really want to participate and get my swerve on (enter the conflict of eliminating poverty and injustice in American society). But, this year, I have to tend to my family’s needs. That is, they have cut off all of my utilities, placed tax liens on my property, and have us struggling on food stamps. But, I am a proud “functionally unemployed” black man, flexed, and bout it (real, not fake and true to the game).
No! I’m not going to make it to Washington, D.C. for the Millions More Movement Activities. I have to take the civil service exam. . . . I have to score within the top three to force the white man to get creative again.
The Honorable Minister hopes to help poor people learn how to help themselves, beginning with the knowledge that there is strength in numbers. I may not be there on October 16, 2005, in person, but as a black man tight (straight, legitimate and feeling really good at the moment) and on his hustle (taking care of my family), I’m already there in sprit.
If I could go to the Millions More Movement activities, I would hope to hear about the marked change of October 2005, from the last two political cycles when President George Bush (Karl Rove) used the power of the White house to coax first-tier candidates into important congressional races. In these crucial few months when candidates are entering races, raising money and recruiting staffs, republican hopefuls are quietly stepping off. There’s one obvious reason why republican hopefuls aren’t listening to the White House: Bush is an unpopular president.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, Bush won the admiration of most Americans (even some blacks) for resolute leadership in the face of a foreign threat. But, after the recent simpleton response to hurricane Katrina and his tone-deaf reaction to the needs of America’s poor, the GOP and the world now well understand that Bush has slipped into a hole and unfortunately it appears the HNIC won’t be climbing back out. That is, his message remains essentially hopeless worries and hopeful faith. He’s back again portraying the world as too treacherous, too dangerous, and too risky for anyone but the GOP. Karl Rove wants to keep America focused on terror and national security. And, then they went public with wacked (crazy stupid) information suggesting possible subway attacks in New York (a city on orange alert the second-highest-level-indicating a high risk of terror attack since the color-coded warning system was established after the September 11, 2002 attacks). Bush backed the decision to announce the threat publicly despite questions by most federal officials about its credibility. They even claimed the source of the threat had passed a polygraph test. In short, like always, the GOP knew America can’t second-guess the motive behind a terror alert.
If I could go to the Millions More Movement activities, I would hope to hear about black GOP conservatives who have gone out their way in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina to play the race and irresponsibility card hoping to cultivate the most reactionary forms of Christian fundamentalism alongside the extreme right for whom racism is an essential ideological component. Just yesterday black GOP conservatives gathered to discuss race and irresponsibility. BOND (The Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny) and the Heritage Foundation cosponsored the event: The New Black Vanguard Conference II. It was moderated by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Founder and President of BOND. Dr. Shelby Steele (Hoover Institution Senior Fellow), Joseph Phillips (Actor & Columnist), Linda Porter (Founder Jochbed Education Project), and La Shawn Barber (lashawnbarber.com) attempted to reflect upon policy questions they claimed of major significance to black communities.
In the course of a denunciation of current black leadership they enumerated some of the standard racist conceptions often voiced by the right wing: The view that welfare programs had created among blacks a culture of irresponsibility; there is an enormous cost for risky behavior within the black family (promiscuous women and fatherless households); and, one generation of blacks has followed another into poverty.
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson has suggested in the past that America shouldn’t blame racism or President Bush and the GOP for what happened to thousands of poor blacks during and after hurricane Katrina. He said “The truth is black people died, not because of President Bush or racism, they died because of their unhealthy dependence on the government and the incompetence of Mayor Ray Nagin (a black man) and Governor Kathleen Blanco.” The black GOP conservative singled out Rev. Jesse Jackson, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rapper Kanye West, all of whom he says blamed President Bush for not doing enough to help black people.
Yes! Rev. Jesse Jackson is on the record calling the president’s response “incompetent.”
Yes! During NBC’s celebrity telethon for hurricane Katrine victims on September 2, 2005, the scripted program took an unexpected turn, when Rapper Kanye West went off the script during the live broadcast, declaring “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
But, black GOP conservatives are nothing but house slaves. They blindly follow simple-minded people. In slavery days we had house slaves and field slaves. The house slaves were “well behaved” and “rewarded” by being allowed to work in the “big house” close to the master. The field slaves were “rough” and “functionally unemployed.” Thus the people were divided and pitted against themselves, instead the common enemy (extreme right forces and Christian fundamentalists).
If I could go to the Millions More Movement activities, I would hope to hear about how da fam in the Burgh (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) can get rid of some punk ass black politicians that are indifferent to the plight of "functionally unemployed" individuals and their families. The last time da fam in the Burgh had oportunity to "break bread" with a bout it black leader was August 19, 1997. On that particular day the Honorable Minister accepted my question (from the audience) related to how black males can be a better father to their children. Among other things, he eloquently advised the group of black politicians on how we can come together and direct our energy, not at each other, but at the condition of the reality of the suffering or our people. But it's October 2005, conditions for blacks in the Burgh have become more precarious. The city is now controled by (in the closet) black GOP conservative house slaves.
Having neither met you I cannot make no comment on your employment troubles. In the city and state where I live there are plenty of blacks in civil service employment. The 8 story building I work in has 6 floors of city offices. Blacks seem to be very well represented, probably in greater proportion than the black population in the city.
Perhaps you should consider moving to Tennessee and applying at the Tennessee Valley Authority where, when I applied, I was told I was wasting my time if I wasn't a female or a minority although I had a M.S. degree with a 3.97 GPA.
Thank you for your comment and good luck in your employment search.
There is a lot of money to be made off of racism in this country. Get a bunch of folks together who feel they've gotten the short end of the stick and give them someone to blame, and you've gained notoriety, monetary contributions and more people listening to you tell them that they aren't really responsible for their own lot in life.
Skin color is just one, very loud and very obnoxious way that the above can be accomplished. But those motives are self-serving, not nation-building.
One day, black people in this country are going to realize that since 1954, they've staged one of the greatest demographic turnarounds in the history of mankind, and no government policy had anything to do with it. It was all them, wanting better lives for their kids.
One day, white people are going to realize that the people who are doing the most damage to them are other white people.
We had a loud little spat about this over at hurricane_radio when Bill Bennett stuck his foot in his mouth.
There are two kinds of people in this world: class and trash. It has nothing to do with skin color, income, religion et al. It has everything to do with behavior. I've known many more whiteboys to act like animals than anyone else. Why? Because I grew up around a lot of white people who could get away with anything because of who their daddys were. Have I met black folks who don't act right? Of course I have, but I've known far more who were just working to make a living and have a little bit of fun on their days off. Same thing with the vast majority of white folks I know.
As a matter of fact, about 90% of the people I have met in my 27 years on this planet are just working hard to make ends meet and have a little fun on their time off. Regardless of color.
But you'd never know that from watching the news or punditry, pop culture or hearing obnoxious people talk when they don't think anyone who disagrees with them is around or when they're trying to raise a ruckus.
Now, there is really real racism in this world, and it comes from every side. It comes from people who are, at their core, hypersensitive and frustrated with their lot in life. I never realized how intentionally segregated my hometown's school system was until I was out of it. I never realized how much better we were until I visited other large school systems in south Georgia. There is real racism and the results of racism in the way we do lots of stuff in this country. We have to find real solutions to those problems and not just move blame around, making everybody mad without making anything better. Helping one group of people does not mean you have to hinder another.
I know folks who have been turned down for jobs based on the color of their skin (white, black & brown) and their sex (male and female). But I know a whole lot more people who were turned down for jobs they were qualified for because they didn't personally know the individual doing the hiring.
I like your "trash and class" comment. I'm know there are plenty of white trash types that make racist comments to blacks and other minorities and vice versa. These people keep themselves down. No one has to do it for them.
I've known plenty of people, whites, blacks, hispanics, asians, over the years. The common denominators I see in the successful ones are: they treat others with civility, they work hard; and they completed high school with a solid ability to read and do math, most completed college.
I am tempted to feel that someone who believes "black GOP conservatives are nothing but house slaves" has other attitudes that are self defeating.
Bill Bennett's comments were stupid and ill-advised at best. I am always amazed when an otherwise intelligent insightful person makes such comments.
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