The Folklore Of Preferential Treatment
By Kenneth Wells Smallwood
I. THE HISTORY OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING
When America was colonized one-third of the people in many English towns were beggars and paupers. The chance to migrate to America as indentured servants was their main chance. America offered cheap, free land and hope. Indentured servants could migrate under a five or seven-year contract and receive fifty acres at the end of their indenture. These white wetbacks participated in an upward mobility program. Their white children and their children’s children would never be slaves. Many of the immigrants to the colony of Georgia were Englishmen who had been imprisoned for debt. This was affirmative action to give them another chance) 1
A report of the U.S. Department of Labor found that 97 percent of senior managers were white men even though women and minorities make up 57 percentof the working population.2 This was 30 years after President Johnson signed Executive Orders 11246 and 11375. Most white Americans stand tall on the shoulders of generations of socioeconomic superiority.3 With the conclusions of The Bell Curve, Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, by Hernstein and Murray, many whites may feel that they deserve their advantages.4 For many this comfort zone inhibits interest in separating the real science from the wishful thinking. Scientist/educator Mano Singham says it is essential that we understand clearly the rules (and limits) of scientific logic and inference and how to apply them. He reminds us that there is no clean biological definition of race that selects out only those groups historically perceived as different races.5
The original United States Constitution clearly emphasized that America was a white man’s country. This meant whites would have a dominant position and a tremendous head start over the other races in the quality of life and the pursuit of happiness. Most white families have benefited from generations of 100 percent quotas for white males in professional, managerial, administrative, and executive positions. Whites also had preference as recipients of government socioeconomic infrastructure development programs, and in access to investment capital, the best farmlands and the natural resources taken from the Native American Indian. Today the wealth (net worth) of the average black family is less than ten percent of the wealth of the average white family. The average net worth of white households was $79,400, black households $7500, and Hispanic households $9750, in the year 2000.6
In an early G.I. Bill the Commonwealth of Virginia after the Revolutionary War gave its veterans 300 acres of land and an African slave.7
In the 17th century Europeans controlled the royal corporations granted exclusive privileges by the kings. In the 18th century the American Revolution decolonized American white men. Almost one-third of the delegates to the Philadelphia constitution-writing convention were slaveholders. Together they held 1400 Africans in bondage. John Hope Franklin has served as president of the Southern Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, the American Studies Association, and the Society of Phi Beta Kappa. He said: “To be sure, some patriots were apparently troubled by the contradictions between their revolutionary philosophy of political freedom and the holding of human beings in bondage. Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, admitted that there was something strange about their fighting to achieve and enjoy a status that they daily denied to others. Patrick Henry, who had cried “Give me liberty or give me death,” admitted that slavery was “repugnant to humanity,” but it must not have seemed terribly repugnant, for he continued to hold blacks in bondage. So did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and and Edmund Randolph and many others who signed the Declaration of Independence or the federal Constitution. They simply would not or could not see how ridiculous their position was.8 In the 19th century the plantation economy yielded to the Northern industrial revolution— the victor in the Civil War. The Union emancipated the African slaves and allowed swift change to peonage and poverty for them. After the war the government acted to service the needs of white business through land tenure, monetary policy, immigration, tariffs, and patent policies, erecting legal action so business could flourish. Federal troops left the South in 1876 and 1877. Blacks died at the hands of lawless Klansmen. Peonage was not banned by the Supreme Court until the 20th century, in the case of Baily v. Alabama.9 To quote Ambrose and Brinkley:
“In many parts of the South the Ku Klux Klan was considered a respectable civic organization.10 From 1882 to 1947 3426 African Americans were lynched, according to Tuskegee Institute. Ida B. Wells said, “In slave times the Negro was kept subservient and submissive by the frequency and severity of the scourging, but with freedom, a new system of intimidation came in vogue; the Negro was not only whipped and scourged, he was killed.”
In the 19th century laws providing for the quick sale of timber and mineral-government lands prepared the way for rapid settlement of the West and the development of mining, lumber and other industries. And according to the Beards:
“Never before in the history of mankind had agricultural and industrial enterprise, so well equipped with capital and machines, enjoyed such a bounteous opportunity for exploitation. Before the close of the 19th century practically all of the arable land in the western regions of rainfall and nearly all the grazing lands in dry or semi-arid regions had passed into the hands of farmers, railway companies, stock raisers, purchasers of Spanish grants sometimes embracing hundreds of thousands of acres, land speculators, old engrossers native and foreign.”
Inter alia . . . .
“Millions of acres of valuable timber, mineral, and grazing lands were literally stolen under the eyes of dishonest or negligent officials in the federal land offices, and other millions were wrested from the government by chicanery of one kind or another. In the history of political corruption seldom if ever, had there been transactions on a scale so prodigious or conducted with more brazen effrontery. Thousands of great fortunes in the East as well as the West were built out of resources wrung from the government for a pittance or for a bribe to its officials, if not actually stolen.”11
During the first half of the 20th century black ghettos were created by whites across the country. The white primary, a southern political strategy barred to blacks was not struck down by the Supreme Court, until 1927. A law against peonage came much later with the Anti-Peonage Act of 1957. Most blacks were serfs by 1890. Many white homesteaders found a better life in the Midwest and the western prairies because of the 1862 Homestead Act. This was an option, or safety valve not available to most black Americans. In the late 20th century, from sea to sea, America has become a paradigm of black ghettos (urban and suburban resegregation) created by white America.
II. CONSTRUCTION, THE CLOSED SHOP, WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE
The status quo of workers in our largest industry— construction, did not change after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a year later. Before this 70 percent of white journey workers were trained on-the-job (OJT) at journey worker wages without a formal apprenticeship. After 1964 the OJT door was closed.12 Apprentices received about sixty percent of the journey worker rate to start with raises over four years to the top journey worker wage. Formal apprenticeship produced more black dropouts than graduates. It is a successful program for most whites, maintaining a 98 percent white male share of the $60,000 a year skilled mechanical craft jobs. Today union sheet metal workers earn $52 an hour. Most white union construction officers and their members do not find it in their best interest to recruit, respect, nurture, and properly train blacks.
The legacy of the craft unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) survives today. Historically, Toner tells us, the genesis of the closed shop appears long before the emergence of the labor unions. The transfers of tradesmen and craftsmen to America from the continent and England was necessarily accompanied by the transfer of their skills, attitudes, and habits. James Toner tells us: The colonial period thus evidences important, although infrequent instances of the closed shop both in principle and practice.
He further tells us that, “As much as men in America detest monopoly and abhorred the evils prevalent in England until the reign of Elizabeth, the needs of the times induced them to foster the feudal privileges of granting exclusive rights to (white) men to manufacture a product, to manage a business or to produce and supply a commodity. Not only the product but also the market was protected. Under such conditions, the closed shop—with its control of trade inspection, and regulation—found fertile soil. Although the term “closed shop” is of relatively recent origin the problem which the term “closed shop” is designed to express existed long before the origin of trade unions. This becomes readily evident in an examination of the English medieval guild system, a system more nearly reflecting the characteristics of our present day employers’ association than those of trade unions.”13 The fathers and grandfathers of white males voted into leadership union officials who upheld and fought for lily-white unions in the skilled building trades. These “innocent” white men negotiated de facto closed shop arrangements on an ethnocentric basis with the concurrence of white contractor associations signatory to the collective bargaining agreements. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 outlawed the closed shop but those who control entry and referral to work have managed to restrict the participation of blacks to token levels in the skilled trades.
Where blacks are forced to live is important. Massey and Denton in their 1993 book American Apartheidpublished by the Harvard University Press, Cambridge, said:
“For conservatives, the cause of desegregation turns on the issue of market access. We have marshaled extensive evidence to show that one particular group—black Americans—is systematically denied full access to a crucial market. Housing markets are central to individual social and economic wellbeing because they distribute much more than shelter; they also distribute a variety of resources that shape and largely determine one’s life chances. Along with housing, residential markets also allocate schooling, peer groups, safety, jobs, insurance costs, public services, home equity, and ultimately wealth. By tolerating the persistent and systematic disenfranchisement of blacks from housing markets, we send a clear signal to one group that hard work, individual enterprise, sacrifice, and chance is based upon the color of one’s skin.”14
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released new data that shows in March 2005 total compensation for private industry union workers averaged $33.17 per hour, or 30.4 percent higher than the average of $23.09 per hour for nonunion workers.
Experts want to know what can be done about the values of poor, segregated black children attending inferior schools. This is surely a question that needs asking in a democracy and should be asked about values of school children in Appalachia. But the experts do not ask what can be done about the values of the movers and shakers of the society which perpetuated the socioeconomic pathology we live in.
III. GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS
In the 19th century government furnished 70 percent of the money for the building of canals and 30 percent of the capital for the construction of railroads. The magazine Mother Jones says that more than 60 percent of U.S. corporations pay no income taxes.
Government subsidies to big business in America averages $100 billion a year.15 It is welfare. The minimum wage, usually below a living wage, is government support of small business. All taxpayers pay for the Food Stamps many minimum wage workers receive. According to Seymour Melman, by February 1992, one in ten Americans were receiving Food Stamps. American social engineering and welfare or loans to Lockheed, Chrysler, the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company and the savings and loan fiasco have saved many white businessman from ruin.
An example of socioeconomic engineering benefiting big white business was the Supreme Court decision in 1886 in Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co.16 that ruled that a corporation was an artificial individual entitled to the protection of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. This social engineering fostered interlocking directorates controlled by white captains of industry and white robber barons. The holding company was affirmative action to circumvent the antitrust laws.
The United States government invested tens of billions of public dollars developing computers and the internet according to Scott Klinger writing in the People’s Weekly World.
By 1952, 66 corporations of the more than 660,000 corporations in the United States held 28.3 percent of all assets of all corporations through interlocking directorships, affiliates, or through financial interconnections; they controlled over 75 percent of all corporate assets in the United States.17
In 1988 George Dimitruck of Utica, Michigan, wrote in a letter to the Detroit Free Press:
“A recent letter writer who stated that less government was a desired direction requires a reply which includes more background information. This country was certainly not built on the initiative of its unregulated citizens since those early settlers had government aid when they grabbed land illegally from the original Americans and then, used government troops and force to remove those rightful owners of the land.
Many Southerners had the free use of labor with the government approved slavery system, and this again refutes the statement of unregulated citizens building this country.”
The fugitive slave laws permitted by the Constitution was government enforcement, protection, and sanction of slavery and its human property.
IV. THE ECONOMY AND RESISTANCE TO AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Some white males became paranoiac soon after blacks and women had opportunities and performed exceptionally well as managers. Blacks were supervising white males in the late 1960s and 1970s and continue to do so. But some white males lost their jobs or lost in competition for a promotion to better qualified blacks and women. Psychologically the culture of white supremacy had ill-prepared them to deal with this “status incongruity.” In some post offices and factories this has had tragic consequences. Not all new supervisors and managers make the grade. Many crash programs to achieve diversity were designed to fail. If he was white it was the Peter Principle. If he or she was black it was affirmative action nonsense. Some strong black and women managers prevail despite tension and polarization, and a relentless media inspired backlash. Weak minorities and women have been programmed to fail to prove affirmative action a wrong concept. This is strategic planning gone bad.
One in five Americans were unemployed some time in 1993. Since then overstaffed firms continued to lay off millions of workers to become more profitable and efficient and thus increasing the value of their stock. This downsizing has been called class warfare from the top down.18 A decade ago the top one percent of the population with average wealth of $2.35 million each, held 46.2 percent of all stocks and 54.2 percent of all bonds, according to New York University economist Edward Wolff. In 2002 the average annual income for the top 0.1 percent (the top one-thousandth) was $3 million, the latest year for which averages are available according to the New York Times.19 Today one percent of the population holds and controls over 80 percent of the wealth. Time Magazine reports that half of the world’s six billion people are poor. Over one billion exist on less than a dollar a day.
Congressional pay of representatives and senators was increased $30,000 in 1989, during a time when the minimum wage fell to a forty year low in regard to inflation. Minimum wage means cheap labor for firms which cannot protect their employees from poverty. The United States is the only major industrial nation in the world without universal health insurance for all its citizens. Forty-five million Americans are without health insurance and more than 2 million are homeless. There is a safety net of Medicaid for some people but its budget has been cut by the present administration (2005). Kim Norris, a business writer for the Detroit Free Press reported this in the August 31, 2005 issue. According to the U.S. Census Bureau more than 13 million children are in poverty, one in six. Ten years ago fourteen million children are owed 36 billion dollars in child support payments. And 800,000 of these children were on welfare. Twenty-seven million Americans got food stamps a decade ago and some of the recipients worked for the minimum wage. In 2003 the number of children living in poverty, according to Scott Klinger, rose 6.6 percent.20
In a July 10, 1995 article, “The Crackdown on African Americans,” in The Nation, Andrew Hacker describes the turnabout of white liberals feeling it was time for making socioeconomic policy changes which result in making life more stressful for some blacks. A crackdown means more overt anti-black animus than benign neglect. Yet few argue that generations of preferential treatment for whites has been harmful to creed values or to their character or self-esteem. After all many still believe in white supremacy. If anything generations of preferential treatment has reinforced their sense of superiority. Affirmative action for minorities we are told perpetuates the perception of inferiority.
The emergence of the post-industrial information age coincides with a conservative agenda to end protection and subsidies, and to deregulate some traditionally protected industries. This cut-back would also include special interest groups—farmers, businessman, minorities and women, the disabled and senior citizens. The task of balancing federal aid to many group pressures was more manageable when the economy was expanding at a faster rate. Today the growth rate is much better than Germany or Japan but is inadequate to fulfill the expectations, and the educational needs for a level playing field in today’s society. We are at war and the money needed for social programs is going to national defense. Seymour Melman tells us that the wages to American industrial workers, until 1975 the highest in the world, now rank 16th among thirty major industrial countries. German industry, paying 1-1/2 times U.S. wages, is preeminent as a world supplier of machinery.21
Paul R. Ehrlich and S. Shirley Feldman in their book The Race Bomb also said the problems of race relations were difficult enough in an era when it seemed that the pie was ever expanding and sooner or later there would be abundance for everyone.22 Now that this vision of abundance is fading fast, the probabilities of racial conflict may well be increasing for, as psychologist Gordon Aliport put it, “Downward mobility, periods of unemployment and depression, and general economic dissatisfaction are positively correlated with prejudice.”
Most Americans do not own huge blocks of stocks and bonds. Many are peers or neighbors of people in the University of Michigan study, “Five Thousand American Families,” William Ryan commented:
It is not merely the poor who stand in economic peril, it is the majority of Americans. The position of this vulnerable majority, made up of those primarily dependent on wages, salaries, and transfer payments is deteriorating. And we now know that, with respect to progress or decline in the world of money individual ability and effort don’t count.
One of the uncomfortable truths of the Michigan study is that individual characteristics such as ambition, planning ahead, saving money, the drive to achieve—all the tried virtues that have been so definitely certified as the high-octane fuel for the journey from poverty to plenty—are essentially unrelated to economic status or economic progress.23
V. THE MERITOCRACY
Employment selection and testing is still an art, not a science. As one attorney said, “If you don’t know the qualifications for a particular job, perhaps the government is correct in saying You’ve got to have a significant number of women and minority managers, regardless of their qualifications.” 24
Two hundred thousand (200,000) whites hired without merit-based competitive civil service exams were granted career status by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to continue the administration of the New Deal programs.
A keystone of the Civil Service Act of 1883 was a quota system whereby each of the then 48 states had a numerical share of certain jobs in the headquarters of federal agencies in Washington, D.C. These jobs were called ‘departmental” positions as opposed to “field” positions in federal agencies outside of the capital for which there were no quotas. The law was called the Apportionment Act. It was apportionment of headquarters jobs according to population in each state. The statute stated as nearly as the conditions of good administration were met the headquarters departmental jobs were to be divided amongst the states according to population. What happened was that the states of Virginia and Maryland and the District of Columbia filled thousands of federal headquarters jobs over their allotted quotas by the 1960s, because of the close geographic proximity to the capital. The states in the west were thousands under their quotas as the government did not pay travel expenses for new hires to come to Washington. Since Maryland and Virginia were way over their quotas, ajob seeker from a state under its quota with an examination rating of 75 would go ahead of the Maryland or Virginia candidate with a score of 90. The apportionment law was waived for veterans and there about 30 million veterans alive today. Today we have a merit system of written tests for mail clerks while some Supreme Court justices are selected on the basis of ideology, sometimes ignoring the recommendations of the American Bar Association and prominent legal scholars.25
If the cream pops to the top in our competitive meritocracy, why is it that a major justification for leveraged buyouts or takeovers is that it gives the raiders an opportunity to replace mediocre white executives with winners? How did all those losers reach their lofty positions in the first place, and why allow them to give themselves golden parachutes? Historically executive compensation has not correlated well with performance.26 Obviously an American CEO has more to worry about than reverse discrimination. In addition to the problems of globalization of the economy and the absence of democracy in the workplace consider the Texaco debacle where the board of directors, because of an error, lost a $10 billion lawsuit to Pennzoil for breaching its 1984 contract to buy Getty.
Dr. Joe Feagin and Clairece Booher Feagin have a logical analysis of reverse discrimination. They forced us to look at the whole historical picture of the American caste system rather than at individuals as a true class context for defining reverse discrimination. Here’s what it would really look like if total control and power was in the hands of blacks.
If blacks had the power to oppress whites for as long as whites have hurt blacks, that would be real reverse discrimination. It would mean that for generations many whites would have lived in ghettos, substandard housing and unsafe neighborhoods and have suffered billions of dollars in economic losses while seeing blacks prosper from white sweat. Whites would be enslaved and raped and suffer disenfranchisement, white codes and black Klansmen, militia and black skinheads would terrorize them.
Whites would earn lower wages, have menial jobs, and have double the unemployment rate of blacks, and whites would be the last hired and first fired. Whites would be subject to inferior schools, police brutality, lynching, poor health care, shorter life expectancy, more imprisonment, and executed disproportionately more facing an unfair criminal justice system. Blacks would hold most of the decision-making positions as college deans, judges, senators, governors, board chairpersons, police commissioners, prison wardens, labor organization presidents, CEOs and CFOs of Fortune 500 blue-chip corporations. Ninety percent of senior managers would be black and they would use their power to allow policies that discriminate against whites for generations. This, said Feagin, is real reverse discrimination.27 Many of the cases of reverse discrimination involved white female victors in a promotion process. Women now constitute a majority of college students and are well represented in accounting, law, and medical schools. They currently hold 5.4 percent of board seats at 760 major corporations and blacks hold 1.8 percent, according to Directorships, a Westport, Connecticut consultant firm. The Detroit Sunday Journal, in a December 4, 1995 editorial discussed the failure of some anti-affirmative action bills to win floor action or were defeated in 12 states, including Michigan.
“So whatever happened to the snowball effect that was to be fueled by all this anti-affirmative action public opinion? Where did all those so-called angry white males go? Aren’t they sill upset that African Americans are taking their jobs? Or has somebody finally informed them that the largest beneficiary of affirmative action programs are white women as in mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and aunts of all those angry white males? Perhaps a few of those angry white guys encountered some even angrier white women.28
Waging war against the enemy is never easy, but it’s even harder when the enemy turns out to be someone you know.’
Two professors at the University of Delaware surveyed a group of 1,200 white males from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Some became lawyers, college professors, teachers, editors, clergymen and engineers even though they had childhood IQs of 85 or less. Almost half of the managers and nearly one third of the professionals had IQs of 100 (average) or less. Ten percent of the executives and professionals had IQs under 85.29
The affirmative action plans in California, Michigan and Texas that dealt with university admissions have been shot down by the courts. Also plans to aid minority business have been ruled unconstitutional.
VI. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION DILEMMAS
The Fall 1995 issue of Dissent magazine carried a symposium of pieces entitled “Affirmative Action Under Fire.” I recommend reading these short articles. Richard Rodriquez asks:
Why despite affirmative action are black teenagers killing each other a few blocks from the Capitol? He points out that “minority” has lost its meaning:
And then one saw the odd parade that continues today, that parade of middle-class Americans demanding to be included among “minorities.” White women became minorities. And Asians, And Hispanics—who are an ethnic group—began to impersonate a racial group, a new brown race. Who was a minority? It was easy for any bureaucrat to tell you. If your group was numerically underrepresented, then you qualified. Which meant, in the end, that the only group that didn’t qualify was the white male heterosexual.
Several of the contributors recommended enforcement of the civil rights acts. Strict enforcement of these laws has never happened. The original Federal Fair Housing Act could only pass Congress with the mortal wound of compromise—no enforcement for a generation, and then an inadequate budget. Jennifer Hochschild blames the majoritarian tradition itself.
The editors of Dissent asked the writers to answer four questions. Here are the questions and the answers I’d have given:
WHO BENEFITS FROM AFFIRMATIVE ACTION? White women first, then other middle- class females; then middle-class minority males. In entry into union skilled mechanical crafts via apprenticeship it is white males first. The savings and loan fiasco proved that in obtaining millions of dollars of venture capital through the “old boy” network and with little or no collateral, the white male benefited the most from affirmative action to help minorities become entrepreneurs.
WHAT PRICE DOES IT EXACT? Minimal for whites compared to the price paid by blacks under three centuries of preferential treatment for white men, as the red man was defeated and a new nation was built for whites. Whereas black freedom and development was always considered a threat to whites, even in today’s global market where two billion or more workers live on less than two dollars a day.
CAN IT BE IMPROVED UPON OR IS AN ALTERNATIVE NEEDED? Yes, it can be improved if the highest priority is given to poor blacks, Native Americans Indians, Hispanics and the most neglected and the most deserving potential beneficiaries such as migrant farm laborers and poor whites. The next priority would be all others in poverty including whites who earn minimum wages and are without health insurance.
The tandem alternative operation needed is equal access for all blacks to good residential zip codes. Finally, the education of successful whites about how centuries of preferential treatment and an unlevel field got them to where they are today.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN WITHOUT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION? Whites would get the lion’s share of the American dream as they always have, only more without affirmative action for minorities. Black middle-class growth would slow down and college enrollment of minority youth at the elite colleges would be much less. Whites would widen the gap between minority competitors as both middle-class white spouses have career development expectations which white preference and networking will not deny. The gap between black and white household net worth would widen. The poor are poor with affirmative action, so they have nothing to lose, especially now that welfare has been reformed.
A Michigan University Law Review article stated in part: Preferential remedies granted to end employment discrimination may be likened to starting one controlled forest fire in order to bring a raging one under control. At first the idea may seem illogical, but the remedial principle is sound. And, of course, if the goal of equal employment to opportunity is to be achieved then we must find remedies that work.
The cost of environmental clean up is staggering. The Clean Water Act mandated the building of waste water treatment plants across the land. Most of the people who polluted the physical environment are dead. It is the job of all to make the sacrifice to clean up the mess they did not make. It is the only way to ensure healthy future generations. To have democracy we must achieve equal employment opportunity and training for poor minorities that works. To have democracy in the workplace we must have strong unions. Unions cannot be strong as long as they practice racism and sexism. The National Labor Relations Board had to enforce laws passed in Washington that took away the labor organization’s freedom to organize unions. And the NLRB became the problem when instead of maintaining neutrality, lost its objectivity in its antiunion administration.30 To turn this around such an initiative would be a waste treatment plant for the socioeconomic environment. Affirmative action plans that work filter out centuries of cultural sewage—the carcinogens of racism and sexism, from the employment process. Andrew Hacker’s essay in the Dissentissue contained the following:
The admissions director of an Ivy League school recently told me that his office grants millions of dollars in aid to erst-while middle- class children whose parents have divorced. This is an apt example of how other institutions have to foot bills for personal decisions that have social consequences.
Some of the innocent will also have to make sacrifices to remedy the failure of the Nation to deliver on its promise of the 40 acres and a mule and making the melting pot off limits to black Americans. Most of us did not participate in or benefit from the savings and loan ruin. Now all citizens have to pay a share of the $600 billion to salvage this failure of white high rollers.
In Harlem the life expectancy of black males is less than that of males in the Third World country of Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world.
The late Roy Wilkins, former executive director of the NAACP said in reference to black separatism and black power, words which apply to whites exercising decision making authority over the life chances of blacks: (which should be part of the content of the character of all Americans):
“Even if, through some miracle, it (black power) should be enthroned briefly in an isolated area, the human spirit, which knows no color or geography or time, would die a little, leaving for wiser and stronger and more compassionate men the painful beating back to the upward trail.”
The cutting edge for change is coming, in part, from black community organizations like Harlem Fight Back in New York, headed by Jim Haughton; the Detroit Area Minority Construction Workers Task Force led by ironworker Ronnie Hereford; the Chicago Black United Communities led by Eddie Read; and the Brotherhood Crusade in Los Angeles led by Danny Bakewell. Haughton wants community hiring halls for city construction jobs. These halls would be controlled by community leaders instead of racist white men. Haughton works tirelessly for jobs, not jails from massive city housing and infrastructure construction. Some 300,000 New Yorkers are on the waiting list for public housing. In Los Angeles where 40-50 percent of the African American men are unemployed, Bakewell is fighting for construction jobs with the slogan voiced by Fight Back and ex-Marine Tyree Scott of the United Construction Workers Association in Seattle, “Nobody works, unless we work.” When minorities have such organizations in all the major cities in America and they stop work on projects, unions may negotiate and compromise with strong minority men and women.
Ronald Walters of Howard University says:
The linkage of poverty—which spurs the militancy of urban workers—is important because poverty constitutes the only alternative and the underground, illegal economy the only recourse for income, if other options are either closed or few and (this author might add) if the federal government continues to subsidize discrimination in construction. In this sense the Miami boycott (Mandela visit was not recognized by the city of Miami) and the construction project protests are only symptoms of a massive disease which affects all areas of urban life.3’
Some whites use examples of the black upper-class to support the old myth of a meritorious color-blind society on a level playing field. These professional blacks need and earn and deserve their material success, but to be people of value they should reject the price of having to “blame the victim” regarding the poor, the so-called losers, in order to be acceptable to some whites in the establishment. Black loyalty to a bogus meritocracy is undermined by the knowledge that they the middle-class got the crumbs of affirmative action because it was much cheaper than programs and money to eliminate ghettos, barrios and reservations and making inner-city schools as good as suburban schools. Sooner or later whatever success and affluences a black achieves the gut issue never goes away—that masses of disadvantaged people trapped in ghettos, barrios or reservations are what Sidney Wilhelm calls: “the waste products of the industrial system.”32 Mechanized off southern plantations to rust belt jobs now gone, they have little moral support besides their churches, civil rights organizations, the Industrial Workers of the World and Jim Haughton’s message:
It’s necessary for people who are oppressed to fight back, no matter how formidable the obstacles. If they don’t do that, they will be totally reduced to nothing.
What we are now experiencing is what Haughton aptly calls the niggerization of whites.33 American corporations are legally allowed to under fund pension funds by billions of dollars. When they file for bankruptcy like Enron and K-Mart the court allows them to jettison the pension plans and the collective bargaining agreements. The CEO and CFO at K-Mart allegedly misled investors about their stock. The safety net is the government agency which pays only 50 percent of the original pension. There is no safety net for the loss of union protection. With the globalization of the economy and free trade there are a lot of angry white men worldwide who have lost their jobs. What will they do when they realize they’ve been niggerized? In 1972 1,227 pension plans were terminated and 20,000 workers last some $50 million in pension benefits. This led to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Does the IWW slogan, “Organize or perish,” mean anything to them or to workers in underdeveloped countries perishing on less than a dollar a day and seeing daily the starvation of children and adults?
The Economist magazine of July 30-August 5th, 2005 had on its cover, “How China runs the world economy.”
1. The Beard New Basic History of the United Statesby Chas. A. Beard, Mary R. Beard and Wm. Beard, Doubleday & Co., Inc, Garden City, NY, 1960, Chapter 2, Immigration to the Colonies, p. 31.
2. Fact Finding Report of the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, Washington, DC, March 1995, p.12.
3. “The Curious Case of Affirmative Action for Women,” by James Scanlon, Society, Jan/Feb 1996.
4. The Bell Curve, Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life by Richard J. Hernstein and Charles Murray, The Free Press, New York, NY, 1994.
5. Mano Singham, “Race and Intelligence, What Are the Issues?” Phi Delta Kappan, Dec. 1995 and seeThe Mismeasure Of Man by Stephen Jay Gould, W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London, 1996,1981.
6. Ibid, footnote #3, and see From report: CurrentPopulation, pgs.70-88, May 2003. See also Class Matters, “Richest Are leaving Even the Rich Far Behind, NY Times, June 5, 2005.
7. American Slavery-American Freedom by Edward S. Morgan, Norton, New York, NY 1975.
8. Race and History—Selected Essays, 1938-1988,The Moral Legacy of the Founding Fathers,” by John Hope Franklin, P. 153, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London, 1989. 9 Baily v. Alabama, 219 U.S. 219, 1911.
10. Stephen E. Ambrose & Douglas G. Brinkley— The Mississippi; And The Making of A Nation,National Geographic, An Official Publication of The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial, Washington, DC, 2002.
11. Ibid, footnote #1
12. See Herbert Hill, “Labor Union Control of Job Training: A Critical Analysis of Apprenticeship Outreach Programs, and the Hometown Plans,” Howard University, Institute for Urban Affairs and Research, Vol. 2, No. 1, Washington, D.C., 1974. No. 1, 1974.
13. Jerome L. Toner, PhD., “The Closed Shop,” American Council of Public Affairs, Washington, DC, 1944.
14. American Apartheid/Segregation and The Making of the Underclass by Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, London, England, 1993.
15. James E. Anderson et al, Public Policy and Politics In America, Duxbury Press, No. Scituate, MA, 1978.
16. Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394, 1886.
17. Billionaire Corporations, Their Growth and Power, Labor Relations Assoc., International Pubs., New York, NY 1954.
18. “Class Warfare from the Top Down,” by Robert Kuttner, Guardian Weekly, London, UK, July 30, 1995.
19. Supra. Note #6.
20. Scott Klinger, “More Billionaires, More Poverty,” People’s Weekly World, April 16-22, 2005.
21. Seymour Melman, “A New Political/Economic Agenda For Change In America, An Outline,” Unpublished Paper, 1992.
22. The Race Bomb, Skin Color, Prejudice And Intelligence by Paul R. Ehrlich and S. Shirley Feldman,Ballentine Books, New York, NY 1977.
23. William Ryan, Equality, Viking Books, New York, NY 1982.
24. Personnel, the Human Problems of Management,4th Ed., by George Straus and Leonard R. Sayles, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1980. Chap.19, .435.
25. Everything For Sale by Robert Kuttner, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 1997. See also Marshall E. Dimock, Gladys 0. Dimock and Louis W. Koenig, Public Administration, Rev. Ed., Chapter 6, The Central Staff Agencies, The Civil Service Commission, Page 101, Rinehart & Co., New York, NY, 1958. See alsoThe Public Interest,No. 32, Summer 1973, “The Civil Service: A Meritless System?” by E.S. Savas and Sigmund G. Ginsburg.
26. Adam Bryant, “Flying High on The Option Express,” —Regardless of Performance, Executives’ Pay Soars, The New York Times Sunday April 5, 1998, Sect. 3, Money and Business.
27. Discrimination American Style, Institutional Racism and Sexism, 2’ Ed. By Joe R. Feagin and Clarece Booher Feagin, Robert E. Krieger Pub. Co., Malabar, FL, 1986. See also Ibid, footnote #3.
28. Ibid, #5 The Impact of the AT&T Consent Decree, Labor Relations and Public Policy Series No. 20 by Herbert R. Northrup & John A. Larson, University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School of Finance, Industrial Relations Unit, Philadelphia, PA, 1979.
29. “Surprise! You Don’t Need a High IQ to Be a Success,” by Reginald Fitz, National Inquirer, Feb. 25, 1986.
30. After Capitalism by Seymour Melman, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY 2001.
31. Ronald Walters, “The Imperatives of Popular Black Struggle: Three Examples from Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago,” Howard University, unpublished manuscript, 1994.
32. Black In a White America by Sidney W. Willhelm, Schenkman Pub. Co. Inc., Cambridge, MA, 1983.
33. “The Reification of Racism and the Niggerizing of Whites,” by James Haughton, NCIPA, Discussion Bulletin #5, Summer 1990.
34. Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974.