Racial Equality Is As Easy As One, Two, Three
Ward Connerly, a black politician, has led campaigns in California, Washington and Michigan against affirmative action. It is Mr. Connerly’s belief that black people are able to compete equally and fairly with white people and therefore do not need the crutch of any affirmative action programs. Mr. Connerly recalled a conversation he had with a professor of his when he was a college student. The professor was active in civil rights and ended his lectures with the phrase, we shall overcome.
One day, Mr. Connerly asked the professor how he would know when we had overcome. Mr. Connerly’s professor simplified the issue down to just three conditions: If a white father would accept his daughter marrying a black man, if a white person were willing to walk in a black person’s shoes and if a black person were taken seriously as a presidential candidate. In Mr. Connerly’s simplified world, black people are equal when and only when we meet these three conditions. And now, evidenced by Barack Obama’s sitting at the cusp of becoming America’s first black President, we are free at last and nothing else matters.
“Judging Obama by those three rules, we have overcome,” said Mr. Connerly.
The fact that black unemployment rates run twice that is no indication of inequality. The fact that black accumulated wealth is less than one percent of white accumulated wealth values is no indication of inequality. The fact that blacks are incarcerated at six times the rate of white people means nothing. The fact that black people on average earn less than eighty percent the wage of white people for doing the same job is meaningless. The only thing that matters are the three little conditions Mr. Connerly learned from a single individual with a very simplified understand of the African American condition to resolve the issue of equality for the entire African American community. Who made Ward Connerly’s professor the spokesman for the problems of the entire African American community? Ward Connerly I guess.
Whenever someone white claims reverse discrimination, it never boils down to the three conditions of whether or not someone from a different race can marry their daughter, whether someone from another race would want to walk in their shoes, or whether a white man can become President. If such limited parameters were applied to white people’s predicament, no white person would ever have a foundation to claim unfair treatment. A wide variety of considerations are examined to assure fairness.
A lot of people in the dominant culture want to minimize the African American condition to the most simplistic of idiotic terms. People constantly want to compare the discrimination of black people to the fact that their great grandpa couldn’t find a job back in Depression Era America. So many people do not want to see black people as individuals but as a mass movement to be considered in its entirety. A black person will complain about unfairness and people will point to some high profile, wildly successful black person and say there is no such thing as racial discrimination. A white person will complain about reverse discrimination and no one points to a high profile, wildly successful white person and say that it’s proof that white people are not reverse discriminated against.
Because a black man is running for President no other black person in the country can be a victim of discrimination. Using the same logic the defense for a murderer can point to the living and say nobody was murdered. One has absolutely no bearing on the other.
Racial equality is more than a black person marrying some white person’s daughter or some white person wanting to walk in some black person’s shoes or some black person being taken seriously as a presidential contender. Racial equality has little to do with who can marry who. There are countries where women marry men yet suffer serious gender discrimination.
Racial equality has little to do with wanting to walk in somebody’s shoes. Jackie Robinson was envied for his ability to play major league baseball by white men everywhere. But back in the day, as the team bus traveled across country for baseball games in other cities, you can bet that he kept his black ass out of those white only restaurants the team frequented.
Racial equality has little to do with a black man being able to be seriously considered for any position of community leadership. History is full of examples where a black man who promoted the racial status quo was herald as a heroic example of black leadership by people in the dominant community. To think that the presidency would somehow be different is to look upon American politics with a level of naïveté that truly underestimates the complexity of the issues of racial discrimination.
It’s to be understood, in fact expected, that somebody like Ward Connerly who has a history of doing anything and everything to protect the status quo of racial discrimination that keeps the majority of black people subjugated under white privilege. Mr. Connerly was working to sweep racial inequality under the proverbial rug a long time before Mr. Obama’s historic bid for the presidency. He obviously feels that two of his professor’s three issues were more than enough to call racism a thing of the past. Mr. Obama now makes it a slam dunk.
The simple fact is that racial inequality is much more complex than a one, two, three you’re free slam dunk. Just because one black person has experienced an unparalleled level of acceptance doesn’t mean that discrimination does not exist. The experience of people in the black community isn’t even close to being so uniform. More black people are discriminated against than the people who are running for the President. But all too often, people want to judge the whole black community on the smallest of samples. There’s no racial discrimination because of the high profile sport professional or actor. But at the same time these same people will see a black man being arrested and without knowing any of the facts on the matter will say that’s why black people need to get their act together.