‘Crying wolf’ on racism: Negative tone of letter speaks volumes

Tue, 07/15/2008 - 3:09pm
By: Letters to the ...

After reading Bill Webster’s letter, “Crying ‘wolf’ on racism: Some ideas,” in the July 2 edition of The Citizen several times I felt obligated to reply. Unfortunately, I did not see the previous letter by Mr. Jones that he appears to be responding to. Thus, my comments only refer to Mr. Webster’s letter.

First of all, affirmative action would never have been necessary if all Americans were afforded equal opportunities in employment and business. While working on Wall Street for many years, I’ve seen and experienced instances of bias during my career. But, I can assure you affirmative action in no way handed me my vice president’s title or high level of responsibility. All qualified minorities ask for and need to excel is a level playing field. Unfortunately, at times those with the power to hire (and fire) have to be forced to mend their ways. Although a lot of progress has been made in this area, privileges and entitlements at times are still extended to the majority.

Mr. Webster’s analogy, “If your grandfather stole something from my grandfather 50 years ago, should you be put in jail today?” is a weak one. Here’s another perspective. If your great-great-grandfather stole my ancestors and didn’t pay them for their hard labor, destroyed their families, and denied them an education should you be held responsible today? Of course not. However, if your family continues to reap the benefits today from those actions, acknowledging those past ills in one way or another is an important gesture rather than dismissing them altogether.

Several major corporations who benefited from the slave trade including my former employer have publicly acknowledged their past wrongs and implemented programs in an attempt to make amends for their past actions. Even Germany apologized to the Jews (in writing and financially) for their persecution during WWII.

I’m sure Clark Atlanta University is open for enrollment to all people, be they white, brown or yellow. You cannot criticize a school for having a majority black student body if other ethnic groups choose not to apply to the school. This is entirely different from schools who historically excluded black students regardless of their grades or test scores, barring them solely on the color of their skin. Also, there’s the issue of inferior primary and secondary education that continues to affect minority students’ ability to get into majority colleges. I graduated from a fine HBCU where we had a good number of white students who were not systematically rejected because of their skin color. The difference is they applied, were accepted and graduated with an excellent education.

Mr. Webster does make one or two legitimate points, one being the inexcusable percentages of black-on-black crime and single parent African-American households. The statistics are definitely unacceptable. I think both of these issues are largely interrelated [and] must be seriously addressed.

I am not going to address all of Mr. Webster’s negativity in his letter. However, as an outside observer I get the sense that he has a fear that the power of entitlements is slowly being lost, thus, resulting in anger, fear and lashing out at those perceived to be responsible for that loss.

The people in power win when we fight over issues such as these because we tend to pay less attention to the real issues that affect all of us these days. For example, high gas prices, American jobs outsourced overseas, excessive medical/dental premiums, inadequate or no medical/dental coverage, and high college tuition costs for our children to name a few. The old divide and conquer strategy will continue to work until we all come together collectively regardless of race, creed or national origin to demand changes.

Mr. Webster thinks stating he has two Korean and two black adopted daughters lends some degree of legitimacy to his letter. However, the negative tone of his letter speaks louder than his choice of adoptive daughters.

I pray that Mr. Webster’s daughters grow up accepting the diversity that makes our country so great and are not confused and adversely impacted by his views and influence. Maybe when they become parents there will be no need for fathers to feel compelled to respond to letters published in the newspapers on these same old topics.

Anthony Evans

Fayetteville, Ga.

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