I was talking with a teacher from one of Youngstown’s high schools the other evening. He’s a teacher, a poet and also has a landscaping business. His work ethic, caring and the fact that he is African-American make him an ideal role model to the African-American students that he teaches. He was explaining how many of his students aren’t interested in education because they don’t see how it could lead to a good career. We’ve all been taught that the more education we have the better chance we have at getting a good job. It certainly sounds like common sense to most people.
I’m sure like me you’ve seen African-American students interviewed and heard them expressing how they want to be an athlete or a rap star. Like me I bet you shook your head at how slim their chances were to accomplish those careers. Something I saw recently makes me think they have a better chance of being that athlete or rapper than they have of getting a career that pays a livable wage. I ran across some interesting research about jobs. That study is called, “The Mark of a Criminal Record.” It is by Devah Pager, who won the Dissertation Award from the American Sociological Association. This study showed how incarceration affects a person’s ability to get a job. Job applicants sent out matched resumes with the only differences being whether the candidate was white or black and a former felon or not, Prager found that black applicants get fewer interviews than white applicants. The most startling finding was that black non-offenders got less job interviews than whites with prior felony convictions. That statistic hit me hard and certainly proves that racism is far from over.
With this kind of racism so prevalent in our society and economy I will laugh in the face of anyone who says we don’t need affirmative action type programs. Conservatives continue to push the myth that people of color fail because of bad choices they made or because of supposed cultural or biological limitations. The truth is that the Republican Party has a proven record of helping African-Americans succeed. For those black students who wanted to be wealthy pro football or basketball players the GOP can help. For those black students who wanted singing careers the GOP has gigs waiting for you. Republicans will make you wealthy if you are willing to play ball with them on their court. As far as singing if you want to be the token black mistral singer at their conventions and Tea Party events you’ve got the job for life. You will no longer sing heart-felt soul music and you will be required to sell your heart and soul. Instead of working at some back-breaking job all you have to do is turn your back on your race and say negative things about them that will make conservative whites happy.
The GOP wants to pretend it is a party of inclusion and wants to find more minorities to use as tokens. There are quite a few examples of blacks who have become spokesman for conservatism that have become successful by doing so. Writer Thomas Sowell started out in his 20’s being a Marxist but found the pay was much better as a free market capitalist working for right-wing think tanks like the Hoover Institution. Sowell keeps the powers that be happy by attacking affirmative action and comparing Obama to Hitler.
Other sellouts are writers, Walter Williams and Jay Parker. Parker founded the Lincoln Review, a black journal which took a pro-South African apartheid stance. He also fought against the establishment of a MLK holiday. He hired Clarence Thomas to be on the Lincoln Review editorial advisory board. Parker and Thomas picked up pay checks for supporting apartheid and trashing affirmative action. This despite Thomas being a beneficiary of Yale’s affirmative-action policy, which offered opportunities to minority students. After graduating Thomas made speeches for the right-wing Heritage Foundation bashing such programs that help blacks.
We even have some local examples of African-Americans who are getting ahead by bashing Obama, affirmative action and the Democratic Party. One such guy is Jeff from Canfield who was a frequent caller to all of the local shows on talk radio station WKBN. All those years of Jeff’s conservative comments have paid off. He has landed a co-host spot on Tracey & Friends, the “Urban Talk with Conservative Thought” Radio program on WSOM-AM 600, a Cumulus radio station. It airs from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays. Jeff thinks the answer to everything is to deregulate corporations and lower their taxes. I guess the fact that two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes isn’t enough for Jeff. In 2010 Wal-Mart made $200 billion in profit but still got $1 billion in corporate welfare from taxpayers. Jeff would rather give our tax dollars to the greedy while he bashes the needy. The show is hosted by Tracey Winbush. Traci is very unprofessional and keeps yelling caller’s names to interrupt them when she disagrees with them. Traci was at one time a member of the school board for one of Youngstown’s public schools. School board members like Tracey are part of the problem not the solution for problems in urban schools. That is because Tracey hates unions and believes in vouchers. With views like that on a school board is it any wonder our public schools face problems.
One of the “friends” who sometimes joins them is a white man who owns a business he refers to as the Gallery. I haven’t narrowed down where this business is but when I do I will boycott it because like Tracey and Jeff this guy hates unions and supports SB5. This crew spends their time trashing Democrats, Islam and calling President Obama a socialist. These folks like all black conservatives will tell you they are members of the party of Lincoln. The Republican Party was started in 1854 by abolitionists but today it is the party of Strom Thurman, Bull Connor and David Duke. African-American conservatives have a different color problem, they don’t care about blacks anymore, they just care about saying what conservative white men want to hear so they can get the green.
Some gains have been made to help African-Americans but as we can see by Devah Pager’s research more efforts need to be made to advance equal opportunities for all. I don’t think Democrats have done enough to help advance those equal opportunities. It’s easy to see that the GOP is not the highway to that equality but the roadblock that is hindering it. Right wing organizations are waging campaigns to destroy affirmative action and conservative politicians are using racism to further their agenda. Sadly, the lure of status and money has influenced some African-Americans to become Republicans. Stand up and have zero tolerance for any aspect of racism that you encounter and make an effort to change the hearts and minds of those around us. Speaking out is the only way we can bring about a day when our differences will no longer be used to divide us.
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“The need of black conservatives to gain the respect of their white peers deeply shapes certain elements of their conservatism. In this regard, they simply want what most people want, to be judged by the quality of their skills, not by the color of their skin. But the black conservatives overlook the fact that affirmative action policies were political responses to the pervasive refusal of most white Americans to judge black Americans on that basis.” ~ Dr. Cornell West