Feb. 4, 2008 – Feb. 4, 2008 – Geneva (apj.us) – My family and I have been fighting in the trenches and the sidelines for not simply equal rights but equal access and equal future possibilities for nearly a century in America and two hundred more abroad.
I was drinking out of “Black Only” water fountains in Selma, Alabama and getting scarred from it while my mother screamed on the sidelines at a crowd of my “peers” beating me to a figurative pulp. My mother previously led the charge during World War II to integrate the Women’s Army Air Corps – and she was successful.
See. I am already being defensive because I think some of you will believe I am shilling for Hillary Clinton, or worse.
If you have read my columns written over the past 20 years (available here), I think you know I believe America has done a fair job ridding itself of institutionalized racism, but has done poorly in the arena of societal racism – the kind that’s tough to measure but is out there among us nonetheless.
The past seven years under the regime of George W. Bush have not helped. If anything, racism and bigotry is on the rise and bolstered by the phoniness flaunted by the Bush Administration and its maintenance men. The wink-and-nod “signals” from the White House – and particularly from Bush cronies, mouthpieces, and supporters – has been despicable. And then there's the de facto ethnic cleansing of New Orleans – and for what? Follow the money: profit and partisan gain, working hand-in-hand.
Mr. Bush has supported private and parochial schools that marginalize Americans of color while trying to fool the rubes into thinking it's all to “help” needy kids in “failed” schools. He has scoffed at those talking about reparations for slavery. He has used Condoleezza Rice, and before her Colin Powell, to “prove” his “inclusiveness” – as he sent thousands of boys and girls of color to death or permanent disability in our so-called “volunteer” army.
Tell me: is it volunteering when you choose to join something because you can’t pay the rent and feed your family?
I cringed the other day when I heard an Obama supporter come up with the fantasy that the “new” generation of Americans, black or white, does not embrace the old “tired black leaders” like Vernon Jordan or Rev. Jesse Jackson – it instead embraces Barack Obama.
I’m sure that Senator Obama himself must also have squirmed, if he had heard that statement. Without men like Jordan and Jackson there might not be a Senator Obama.
It is Vernon Jordan who, thirty years ago, presciently warned the nation that “America’s dirty little secret, racism” was alive and tumescent after Californians – supposedly the most liberal Americans – voted ‘Yes’ on Proposition 13. It shredded property taxes and, along with them, almost every world-class social program – the government-sponsored safety net apparatus, education, and the health care system, along with dozens of smaller but effective programs – in the Golden State. Proposition 13 decimated the Black community for many years.
When Californians had the chance, they voted for Greed, not Need.