The Great Apology for Racism
There have been a number of historical greats, such as the Great War, the Great Flood of 1927, the Great Depression and the Great Escape. Once upon a time in the later part of the 20th Century around the Spring of 1964, it was U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson that began using the term “The Great Society” to describe his socioeconomic reform programs. Most significant, the Great Society implemented Affirmative Action practices, a direct outcome of the Civil Rights Movement, which in part spearheaded a revived national consciousness to promote parity between white and black citizens.
This represents the greatest and highly significant societal uplifting pertaining to race and gender in America, where Affirmative Action today is merely an afterthought in hiring practices and education for black people in America. Affirmative Action was “The Great Apology” because it meant that white America was willing to seek remedy for its long-suffering hatefully imposed on people with black skin. Nonetheless, American courts are routinely interpreting Affirmative Action as a bias process on the grounds that it imposes a favoritism on the selection of candidates, fully dismissing that Affirmative Action sought to breed civility to the past centuries of murder, torture, rape, humiliation, lynching, unfair labor practices, and blatant disregard for human life of all black people in America. The Great Apology mobilized through Affirmative Action practices was given a makeshift lifespan of 35 years, from 1961 to 1996, where the California Proposition 209 passed by state voters, upended the progress of civility by officially unraveling all public and private practices of Affirmative Action.
The Civil Rights Movement prompted national strategies of socioeconomic development that escalated practices of equal opportunity for members of all disenfranchised groups and white women in education and employment. A federally lit political fire was lit when President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1961 first used the term “Affirmative Action” in an Executive Order 10925 that directed government contractors to affirm active steps to ensure that particularly black applicants were equally considered for employment opportunities, and that employees are treated fairly during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin. This presidential order also established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Without taking the temperature of race inclusion in America, the Great Apology is defunct and now fifty years from the time of President Johnson’s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill into Law parity is apparently complete. Affirmative Action helped to apologize to blacks similar to how the government apologized to the Native American by providing sovereign nations of long-term land rights, except the glaring difference was Affirmative Action was given a sunset clause. In stark contrast to the treatment of Native Americans, white leadership did not fully embrace the apology to black Americans thereby explaining its abbreviated sovereignty. The Great Apology focused on improving opportunities for blacks, where it was just a mere decade prior to enacting the Civil Rights Bill where the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 outlawed school racial segregation.
Reducing and eliminating Affirmative Action devalues the accomplishments of racial parity to bridge social groups. Which is why America needs to push the capacity of what affirmative action accomplishes. Especially when within a week of this writing, the first thing stated by the free press is that institutionalized racism still exists exemplified by a New York white officer who in broad daylight choked an unarmed black male citizen to death. Similarly, within two weeks of this writing a white male California Highway Patrol officer choose to beat a fully cooperative black women repeatedly in her face and head with hundreds of motorists witnesses the unexplainable brutality.
Currently, black children in public schools are generally subjected to harsher, more frequent disciplinary measures than are white students, according to the report, “School Discipline, Restraint, & Seclusion,” released by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights in June 2014. By the same token, equal public education and access to job opportunities has never been fully realized, even though the federal government has never wavered in its theory of equal opportunity. Since poverty was a core element of black populous when the Civil Rights Act passed, the large migration of blacks moving up from poverty was vast and the totality of low-income communities continue to receive less than their fair share of funding, especially based on a black students’ need to surpass multiple inbuilt societal challenges.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 served not just to help improve life prospects for blacks, it served notice to those who would dare sabotage, inflict harm, and/or purposely impede progress of blacks that this related type of behavior is deemed un-American. But without a governmental approved apology in place whites believe it is okay to revert to prejudicial conduct. The golden anniversary of the signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act recently passed on July 2nd of this year. Our nation’s celebration of inclusiveness still lingers as business as usual scenarios at the local, state, or federal levels. We blanket our inclusiveness with the Independence Day Celebration, but in essence that is not the bases of racial harmony.
Shortly before this year’s Independence Day Celebration, the judiciary branch of government voted not to protect racial and ethnic minorities, as the Supreme Court upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities. Another act of aggression against the Great Apology, and this is why we must all remind ourselves that racism in America is not wholly eradicated. There are far greater strides necessary to bring a semblance of parity for blacks in America.
The same week that Affirmative Action was turndown by the supreme court level, the National Basketball Association (NBA) took extreme offense from a somewhat eccentric billionaire’s private conversation with his alleged mistress. The comments were interpreted by white America as being offensive toward blacks. The elite basketball players agreed and what ensued was nothing more than a public lynching of an eccentric, wealthy old Jewish man. Without due process, the man was banned from ever attending another NBA basketball game, and was ordered to divest his assets of owning a NBA team. This is the most communistic action ever undertaken by America capitalism, short of enslaving people because of their skin color.
The conditions of blacks should not be so fragile that one man’s comments could project this reaction, except, it appears that the NBA feels guilty for excluding blacks from player and management positions for so long it wants to make a public example of an elderly man. First and foremost discrimination of any type is wrong. Nonetheless, there is not one person living or past that has not conducted some type of favoritism which in itself is a form of discrimination, and often times made from a race-based or gender-based foundation.
The type of outcry of protest and sponsorship sanctions over Donald Sterling’s comments would have been more appropriate in 2006 when young black men were no longer eligible to enter the draft directly after graduating from high school. The NBA arbitrarily changed the playing field rules that high school players cannot gain eligibility for draft selection until one year after their high school graduation and they must also be at least 19 years old as of the end of the calendar year of the draft. This rule most negatively affects black males, and mark my words, as soon as the NBA scouts find a couple of worthy white high school players, watch how fast this rule shifts in favoritism of drafting high school level NBA platters.
Yet another example of institutionalized racism, as the NBA has gained large sums of money from marquee black players straight out of high school like Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Josh Smith, Darryl Dawkins, Shawn Kemp, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Moses Malone, andKobe Bryant. So, consequently this change affords colleges a huge opportunity to recruit high school players and get some of that money, if just for a year, to exploit of black skills. The free labor plantation strategy is part of the NBA and higher educational systems, not that of Sterling’s personal talks.
Therefore, the protest at this time on this subject is misdirected, twisted against the Clipper players who have worked hard to win that ever so elusive NBA championship, undoubtedly derailed in 2014 by some mere comments, and not the action(s) of a man. The core of U.S. Constitution is freedom of speech and the public lynching over a man’s comments without any formal judicial action is in the wrong.
The absolute fact that a white male would risk his congressional status by insulting a the U.S. President on national television during the State of Union address is an indicator that racism persists. It occurred during the September 2009, when Addison Graves “Joe” Wilson, Sr. shouted at President Barack Obama “You lie!” right in the middle of his speech before the joint session of Congress. This is sad and racist as it had never happen before when white all 43 Presidents preceding Mr. Obama had not been insulted in this manner.
Joe Wilson is a U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2001. When he insulted the President the House of Representatives basically did nothing. Even more alarming is how he was easily re-elected the following year in 2010 over all challengers, and was unopposed in the 2012 general election he was re-elected with 96% of the vote. This reinforced his broken decorum in Congress that it is alright to insult a sitting black President when your constituents feel they too would do the same. If a black U.S. Representative had insulted a white President in the same manner, surely at a minimum his leadership duties would have been striped and would have been vehemently opposed at the polls the following year.
President Barack was barely two months into office when Dean Grose, Los Alamitos California Mayor, (and Orange County Republican Party Central Committee member), tendered his resignation (albeit very temporarily) after forwarded an email depicting the White House front lawn growing hundreds of watermelons. Grose claimed that he did know this would be considered a gesture racism, although it was not sent to any previous U.S. Presidents.
Surely I am greatly appreciative of the growing level of maturity surrounding race relations in this country, however, I am appalled at the lack of intensity to strike down official leaders who blatantly undermine common racial dignity, where their acts of rebelliousness go essentially untreated by the compassionate America.
President Obama has excelled in a variety of areas as President. Once can simply view the financial stability of the country and take away that President Obama made a huge difference. When he took office the country was on the brink of financial ruin and today both the Standards and Poor and Dow Jones stock exchanges are above all time highs.
This occurred in spite of Republicans literally laying down to do nothing to help in direct defiance of President Obama succeeding. From banking, mortgage, automobile, health to foreign wars, President Obama has made driven a helpful change with zero support from the majority party. All the while, Republicans are chanting I do not want President Obama’s work to succeed. To me this boarders on an act of treason to our nation.
This past week, Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor event that it is possible that President Obama could be impeached by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. This is part and parcel to how the House Speaker John Boehner taking his work effort to proceed with a lawsuit against the president that if won would require him to more quickly enforce all the provisions of Affordable Care Act, particularly the sections that have been delayed. The mockery of it all is that this is the same law that the Republican House of Representatives have voted repeatedly to repeal.
I am all about the advancement for all black people, and have dedicated my professional career leading the Black Business Association toward economic parity. I am sure many public and private sector executives take issue with interfacing with a singular focused race-based trade group. However, it is about the advancement and the catch up for blacks in America, and not the destruction of white America. Sterling’s comments were strategic to say the least and probably had meaning to the person he was speaking with, whereas it is easy to see that the man’s action are far from racist by looking at the composition of his Clipper roster, management and community outreach.
Freedom of speech obviously means nothing, where Sterling spoke about a culture that he feels compelled to comply with, which is something that more civil rights leaders should be concerned about. I am in favor of looking at Donald Sterling in this situation as an opportunity to learn more about why decisions are made surrounding black association. Sterling referred to a culture outside of his individuality, meaning to me that there are many more who feel strongly against black progress.
Recently the U.S. Supreme Court Justices in a 6-2 decision upheld that a state can prohibit the use of race-based preferences as part of the admissions process for state universities. The saddest part of this court ruling was that there was and is no public outcry or national discussion in remote comparison to this bated commentary by Sterling. The late great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life to developing affirmative action, an apology, and the same people sanctioning the comments of Donald Sterling have not made one level of protest against the public universities for excluding blacks in their admissions. Sterling referenced blocking admissions to seat in his limited number of game seats, whereas higher education has found legal weapons, excuses, to block admission for generations of blacks.
Any excuse to revoke the great apology, whereas in the case of Donald Sterling who was supporting a racially mixed black and Mexican girl in her lifestyle, a bigot would have had nothing to do with someone of racially mixed heritage on his down time. President Thomas Jefferson found solace in befriending Mary Hemings and this country has not found it proper to take away any accolades from his hypocritical written and verbal commentary on legalized U.S. human slavery. Yet, everything that we have learned about the man Donald Sterling has been disregarded, as any good completed has come down to being destroyed at the expense of Clipper players in the process.
If we allow Sterling to be denied equal protection under the law of freedom of speech where there is no disparate racial impact, the public becomes the bigot. There have been no cases where blacks were denied admission to a Clipper game, so why the outcry. The overall public barely knew of Donald Sterling before this tiny personal conversation, but are now ready to take action on racial discrimination. If taking Sterling out of play is the answer then I would assume blacks will benefit, but we know that will not be the outcome. For example, since blacks have made inroads into team ownership fewer blacks are becoming players over international player recruitment, just as both the Lakers and Clippers have been taken off public television from KCAL and KTLA, respectively. Fewer black images in the media lessens the positive impact blacks have on America. Cable television moguls win, college endowments win, corporate advertising wins, but nowhere in the outcome of this action will blacks come close to a victory.
We have taken the results from the Civil Rights movement and buttered it with a plethora of protected classes thereby making accountability for fair treatment of blacks going unchecked. For example, as reported by the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency, Asian American business enterprises have consistently obtained and exceeded entrepreneurial parity when evaluated to the number of firms and paid employees. Further, Japanese Americans’ poverty level is steadily trending downward from 8.6% compared to 9.4% of white group members experiencing an unfavorable upward trend, perhaps contributing to why nearly 5% of Japanese Americans have advanced college degrees compared to that of white group members at 3%. Very similarly, the average medium family income of Japanese Americans annually is $61,630, an amount far exceeding that of whites earning much less each year at $48,500. Nonetheless, Asian American inclusion statistics are constantly viewed necessary in public and private sector equal opportunity employment and contracting achievements.
It is imperative that the watering down of Affirmative Action be addressed with the attention given to those who are not in need of such attention. The melting pot idiom is part of the reason why racism is able to persist, because black inclusion is never dealt with long enough to make matters better. The dream of equal economic opportunity regardless of race remains elusive for blacks. In 1964, blacks’ income was 58% of white people’s income and today it is 57%.
Over the past few years, each month I make an attempt to make heads or tails as to why white national unemployment rate has consistently dropped a percentage point each report, now at 5.5%, while and the black unemployment rate in comparison dropped in minuscule amounts, finding it hard to dip below 11%. There has got to be more reasons than the big two of insufficient education or work experience preventing blacks from achieving full employment. The lack of access to equal opportunities is the leading reason why so many blacks across the country find employment gains tougher than that of whites. The breed of recent veteran hiring, and English-Spanish speaking preferences coupled with whiter skin allegiance are real factors nudging out blacks for sustainable jobs.
In view of that, the question remains the same stating are blacks subjected to last place considerations of economic opportunities? Our Judicial branch of government is erasing this country’s violation of racial inequality to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure inclusion. Since constitutionally speaking all men are created equal, a great apology remains in order when that basic principle has historically and currently been gravely desecrated.