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Advice to

The President of the United States

on matters of Race

by Roy Innis & Niger Innis

         

America has made monumental progress in race relations in the later part of the 20th century.  The magnitude and the rapidity of these changes are arguably greater than and potentially more lasting than other socio/political changes in history.  Certainly, no other such change has occurred with the relative peace of the American Civil Rights Revolution of the 1950's and 60's.  A major change in race relations in America occurred after the carnage of the Civil War, in the 1860's and 70's, but that was followed by great bitterness that caused the regression in race relations in the post-reconstruction era that led to the legalizing of the immoral system of segregation, at the end of the 19th century.

 

        It is this tendency to regression after great positive socio/political change that we must address, if we are to preserve the tremendously positive gains of the past four decades. Mis-understanding of the legitimate needs and goals of black and white factions in our society is leading to frustration, which can lead to bitterness, which can fuel regression in race relations. 

 

        Mis-understanding of legitimate needs and goals, with the resultant frustration, is occurring especially among competing black sub-factions of different ideological persuasion, status, and aspiration.  The lack of desire to understand the competing needs and goals among black Americans themselves is a critical factor that could add to deteriorating relations between blacks and whites.  This is especially so when institutions, public and private, react to and respond disproportionately to one sub-faction, while ignoring others. The next President must resist those forces that would have him relate to the black community as if it were a monolith.  He must be willing to reach around and beyond the usual media created and anointed leaders and demagogues in ethnic communities.  

 

        The President will be faced with a paradox in race relations.  On the one hand there has been tremendous progress on matters of race since the tumultuous civil rights movement of the 1960s and Lyndon Johnson's statement, "we shall overcome."  Black income has risen greatly, and there has been a dramatic expansion in the growth of black businesses, black graduates from colleges and black elected officials.   Similar trends exist for Latinos and other minorities.  |Asian Americans, in general, now have a higher per capita income than many whites and are outperforming whites in education. White American attitudes towards non-white Americans have also improved over the last 30 years.  American cultural icons include Colin Powell, Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey.  Whites have shown that they are capable of voting for black candidates for high elected office much more frequently than anyone might have predicted. 

 

         Unfortunately, all is not good in the house.  The worst manifestations of Affirmative Action have caused a great deal of white resentment and racial tensions in corporate America and on our nations' college campuses.  Blacks and other minorities, on the other hand, seem more intent than ever on viewing themselves through a prism of race/ethnicity as opposed to seeing themselves as individuals.  With the support and urging of black and white media, minority leaders have made an investment in racial politics and race based solutions to problems in their communities. Unfortunately, this all comes at a time when America has the potential of becoming more racially diverse than at any other time in her history. Historically diversity has been America's strength. We have brought to our shores the best that the world has to offer and incorporated them into American society.  Underpinning this phenomenon, though, was the desire for the various groups to become Americans. The bond that tied this diversity together was American society, through our public schools, media and government policy cajoling groups to blend into American culture.  Now the popular media, government, and even our public schools do more to undermine this blending. It is a critical time for America. We can either continue to be a role model for the world (e Pluribus Unum) or we can become a cultural Balkans. This is the daunting task that the next President of the United States must deal with.  How he does will determine the destiny of not just the minorities of our country, but eventually will impact every single American life. 

 

        Here are some areas that need immediate attention by our next President:

 

          Affirmative Action

          Education

          Crime and the Criminal Culture

           Balkanization.

 

Affirmative Action:

 

        When Affirmative Action started in the 1960's and was promoted in the early 1970's, it was Government and society's attempt to redress past injustices and diminish current inequities.  It had different definitions and applications. Ironically the most controversial portion of it, Quotas (de facto and dejure), was at first vigorously opposed by most civil rights leaders and their white liberal allies.  Just as, ironically, it was the Republican Richard Nixon's administration Philadelphia Plan that was first to codify it.  In the thirty years since it's inception, Affirmative Action has had mixed results. On the one hand, women, blacks and other minorities, have increased their numbers in the workplace and in the universities and other aspects of American life. While we do not believe that Affirmative Action has had as much an impact on this phenomenon as its supporters believe, we do not believe that Affirmative Action has had no influence on this event as do many of it's detractors.  To what extent Affirmative Action is directly responsible for the increased success of minorities over the last 30 years is debatable. What is not debatable is that the program has become divisive in our society and has tended to pit one group (racial, ethnic, gender) against another.

 

        It has over time, ironically, reinvigorated notions of racial inferiority of certain minorities. The best example of this is the practice of Race Norming.  Race Norming is the practice of scoring individuals on a racial curve.  In other words, a black person's C+ is the equivalent of a white person's B+.  This practice has been used in admissions offices of college campuses, boardrooms of corporations and government agencies.

 

        Affirmative Action has also failed to reach the most economically and or socially disadvantaged minorities in our country.  The fact is that Affirmative Action currently disproportionately helps those (middle class and wealthy minorities and women) who need it the least.  It has become "Trickle Down" social policy.  Sadly many politicians and so-called minority leaders use the plight of the underclass to promote a program that has benefited the upper echelons of the community and barely (if at all) addresses the problems of the poor.  It would be better if Affirmative Action programs were to be defined on economic status, rather than on race.  Thanks to criticisms raised for many years by our organization CORE and efforts of the many Ward Connerlys, the momentum seems to be going in the direction of rolling back racial and gender preference programs.  Racial preferences and other immoral, corrupt applications of it should be ended.  To keep that momentum going, we must simultaneously promote ideas that provide opportunity to those in need. We appluad the efforts now being made by the University of California to prepare blacks, Latinos and poor whites --IN HIGH SCHOOL-- to take standardized tests. It is unfortunate that the "easy way" of racial preference programs had to come to an end before this good program was implemented. Better late than never!  We also applaud the program currently being promoted by Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida to give the top percentage of each high school in his state access to the University of Florida. We applaud these programs because they promote opportunity for those willing to work for it, not the guarantee of success; and because they are race and gender neutral programs.

 

        For years advocates of Affirmative Action in the universities have said that the first rung on the ladder of success is education and because blacks and Latinos are "underrepresented" at the best institutions, we need "diversity" recruitment programs.  Unfortunately these advocates do not realize that the first rung on the ladder of success is not the first year at college, but the first year in grade school.

 

School Choice: The transition from the Great Society to the Equal Opportunity Society

 

        There is no greater fight that the next president can embark on than the fight to provide options to poor parents for the education of their children.  Currently millions of children are stuck in bad public schools wracked by crime, drugs and incompetent or oblivious teachers. Many on the left assert that these problems exist because of under-funding of our public schools.  This argument is fallacious on several levels.  Many public schools spend far more per pupil than their parochial counter parts, with much worse results.

 

        Many of the best students at the worst public schools are immigrants from places (i.e. Asia, Africa and the Caribbean) that spend far less on education than our nation's public schools.  It does not take tens of thousands of dollars to educate a child; it takes competent teachers, concerned parents and a school system that promotes efficiency and discipline.  Only by promoting full private and public school choice can we revive faith in the hearts and minds of the parents of our inner cities.  By promoting competition for the dollars of our parents, our public schools will, by necessity, become more competitive.  It is simple supply and demand motivation.  By giving poor parents the opportunity to play a role in the destiny of their children's education, newly empowered parents will no longer feel powerless.

 

        This program--although sensible and simple--has powerful enemies.  The teachers' unions vigorously oppose the voucher system.  They have enlisted their allies in the civil rights community, education establishment and media to fight this endeavor.  The battle has begun and it is not going to be easily won.

 

        Win or lose, this is  "the good fight."   It has already forced education establishment to start reforming itself in ways it would not have done without the fear of losing its monopoly.

 

Weed and Seed: Fighting Crime & the Criminal Culture

 

        The smashing success of the new generation of Governors and Mayors, like Mayor Guiliani of New York City, in bringing down crime rates in our country is historic.  Even though crime is down, the next President must challenge the media and entertainment institutions to refrain from promoting and glorifying the culture of crime.  He must also be willing to condemn those leaders who alibi and apologize for criminals.   Media and the leadership establishment often portray criminals as victims of an evil society--especially those that cloak themselves in quasi-political garments.

 

Balkanization:

 

        Finally, the next President should recognize that despite the great positive changes in race relations since the 50s and 60s, there is a recent trend towards Balkanization.  Balkanization is a factor in much of the new racial tensions in America today.  This trend is energized by the lack of intra-racial diversity in minority communities.  The next President can make the greatest contribution to race relations by using the White House as the Bully Pulpit for true diversity in America.  He should recognize the need for inter-racial (group to group) diversity, but he should equally know that intra-racial (within minority groups themselves) diversity is suppressed in many communities.  This is not healthy for those groups, nor is it healthy for America.  Intra-racial diversity is the best antidote to the Balkanization that is engulfing America.  The next President can become the champion of intra-group (racial and ethnic) diversity.  Of course, he would have to challenge the monoliths in our communities and their sponsors.  The next President must dedicate himself to ending the immoral, corrupt "one party state" of black America.  It would help African Americans, and it would be good for all Americans.  

 

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CORE -- Congress of Racial Equality  *  P.O. Box 264  *  New York, N.Y.  *  10276  *  Tel: (212) 598-4000  *  Fax: (212) 982-0184

 

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