Monday, August 28, 2006

In Defense of Andrew Young

In Defense of Andrew Young - Washington Post

John McWhorter understands the game of baseball too well – especially pitching. To combine his argument of over-reaction around civil rights legend Andrew Young and Virginian Republican George “Macaca” Allen is masterful. Satchel Paige would applaud such an un-hittable pitch aimed at Blacks.

Mr. McWhorter is practicing the ‘Appeal to Emotion’ fallacy of argument so openly, one can only question the disdain he has for the intelligence of his audience. This fallacy, simply stated, occurs when someone manipulates peoples' emotions in order to get them to accept an otherwise false claim as being true.

The use of the country’s desire to look past Mr. Young’s race-baiting comments, to sneak in the claim that Senator Allen (R) meant no racist insult to young Mr. Sidharth, of Indian descent, is incredible. Mr. Allen may claim that he did not know the derogatory meaning of the term, but, as shown in the video, he clearly knew he was not offering a compliment among the ‘good ole boys’ at his rally.

As a linguist, Mr. McWhorter should be the first to recognize that regional familiarity is not what makes a term acceptable, in a global world. If a British politician called a Black man holding a camera, “Sam Spade”, after the serial detective, the insult might be largely lost on a British audience, but insulting and racist nonetheless.

Mr. McWhorter follows up the Allen defense with the open-and-shut description of a bat-wielding New Yorker. Who would not look innocent next to this person?

Finally, he tops off his slight-of-hand with the distracting ‘Red Herring’ argument of describing ‘dueling races’ on reality television. Who cares about some Hollywood bomb? I guess Mr. McWhorter understands that we do. To his credit, his linguistic slight-of-hand seems to be working. The passes from the Black community have been flowing like water.

James C. Collier

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

La. Mom: Black Kids Sent to Back of Bus

La. Mom: Black Kids Sent to Back of Bus - AP

One of the most common mistakes we make in combating racism is not understanding or accepting that it comes to us in two very different forms, even though it looks the same to the recipient. Some might even say that this difference does not matter, as the damage is the same. However, the distinction is critical in making the choice of how best to combat it, and how to make progress even while it still exists.

Racism from malice, or hatred, is ‘causative’ behavior that contorts whatever arguments of truth and knowledge exist, with the objective of exploiting others or situations for personal or group advantage. The behavior of the malice-hearted racist is driven by wickedness, in the face of explanatory information known and available. Alternately, racism from ignorance is a ‘resulting’ behavior, is ubiquitous, and does not have exploitation as a goal, although is causes harm, nonetheless.

The behavior of the ignorant racist is driven by their best available, albeit questionable, explanation of why things are the way they appear. These individuals believe that they are doing the fair and right thing for themselves, their loved ones, and society, by taking the positions, whose objective generally is some form of protection, or so they believe. While they do not share the views of the malice-hearted racist, their own actions, which they have difficulty openly defending, do not allow them to confront, or even recognize, behavior they know to be malicious.

For the record, the La. school bus driver, who made the Black kids sit in the back of the bus, is displaying exceptional malice. This is not an example of how all White people secretly feel about Blacks, nor is it an example of how all Black people are treated in this country. Rather it is an instance of racial malice, not ignorance, that deserves serious rebuttal, and without exaggeration or minimization.

James C. Collier

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Black Leaders Urge Fight Against AIDS et al

Black Leaders Urge Fight Against AIDS - AP

Why the U.S. Has Not Stemmed HIV - Washington Post

Black America Must Confront AIDS - Washington Post

Julian Bond, the NAACP, and other Black leadership are finally taking to the stage to collect their ‘better late than never’ awards for calling overdue attention to the AIDS epidemic. Sadly, and with the scourge of the disease firmly resident in the Black community, the highest-level Black leaders have finally found their voices.

But it will take more than a few words to move Black clergy and their congregations from the homophobic sermonizing that has been a hallmark and distracting gauntlet, over the past 25 years. Yes, twenty-five years!

Now that AIDS has completely jumped to the heterosexual community, one fear is that Black church leaders will figure out how to partition Black gay men out of their initiatives for battling the disease. This continuing blame-game would only compound the tragedy, and further the spread.

Is there hope that Black clergy, across the nation, might experience a level of divine inspiration that will allow them to set aside judgments and tend to the whole ‘flock’? Perhaps, but homophobia runs deep in the Black community, driving gay men even deeper into their closeted lives.

Only time will reveal if therapies to treat and prevent AIDS, which have gained significant footing, will continue to face their biggest challenge, in part, from the pulpit.

James C. Collier

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Kindergarten Boot Camp

Kindergarten Boot Camp - Washington Post

Excerpt from The Myth of Acting White, by James C. Collier.

"A sense of novelty rules the start of school. It is similar to how adults feel when they visit a foreign country on vacation. The language is different, the food is different, the customs are different, everything is different and we are very ‘game’ to experience it – after all, this is what we are paying to experience. Children in school are no different. However, what happens when the novelty wears off after a few days, a week, or a month? Adults pack up and go home, usually muttering under our breath how we can’t wait to get back to that which is familiar – and to us, better. This is natural. However, what if we cannot leave? If we remain, to the degree we accept and adapt, we can begin to reach our capacity to contribute to our new environment. If our mindset stays with our former home, our ability to contribute, and gain reward in our new environment, will be limited. We will be non-optimized.

Famed economist Adam Smith wrote about this same dynamic in Theory of Moral Sentiments, published in 1759. In this work, he described a child's transition from home to school as the time where the child enters the 'great school of self-command'. In the new school environment, the child is no longer protected from others by caregivers, whose attention is too often indulgent towards the child's self-focus. Furthermore, the child's classmates are less accomodating, requiring the child to compromise themselves. The wants and needs of the other children, and the greater learning environment establish a stature of importance and influence. Those that accept this need for ‘d├ętente’, do better at school."

James C. Collier

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

The New Face of Summer School et al

The New Face of Summer School - Washington Post

Students Double Up on Math and English - AP

It is interesting to see that the new face of summer school in 2006, despite this title, still looks like the old face of summer school circa. 1970. It was then that classmate Herman Robinson and I, as impending catholic school seventh-graders, took pre-Algebra in public summer school, with the kids who had not fared so well that previous school year. Our goal was to get the ‘jump’ on the coming year, as well as to hangout at East High School where classes were taught.

With this background, it came as no surprise when my impending tenth-grade daughter suggested, this past May, that she could go to summer school to attempt to better her ninth-grade Algebra grade. I made a deal with her that she could go on a ‘movie-date’ if she managed an ‘A’. She missed her early first date by 3 points and settled for a B+ and an iPod instead – whew, that was close for poppa!

The willingness to put forth extra effort in the process of learning has always been the hallmark of ‘striving’ in America. I was proud that my daughter was willing to work hard for something she wanted, even while working as a lifeguard and fulfilling swim team workouts.

While parents and educators should indeed be concerned about their kids becoming early-stage workaholics, this is not my worry. Too many Black kids suffer from not having the educational work ethic that matches their professional dreams. This disparity is the greatest challenge to their future, not working too hard.

James C. Collier

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Grand Jury to Probe La. Bridge Blockade

Grand Jury to Probe La. Bridge Blockade - AP

La. Police Who Turned Away Katrina Victims Face Inquiry - AP

Feds Probe Post-Katrina Bridge Blockade - AP

There is no excuse for authorities turning back evacuees fleeing New Orleans and the results of hurricane Katrina. For a country to turn its back on its citizens is to turn our backs on our future, a future guided by a constitution that binds and protects the common good of us all.

Those Southerners, who recently displayed such righteous indignation at having to re-digest the Voting Rights Act they so richly earned, need look no further for explanation than their continued behavior, as on the bridges connecting them to New Orleans.

Hopefully, the grand jury will recognize the behavior of the law enforcement officers as unconstitutional and sanction them with the full power of the law they so selfishly ignored during this difficult time.

James C. Collier

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mel Gibson's Statement

Mel Gibson's Statement - AP

A Moment Mel Would Understand - Washington Post

Booze and Bigotry - Washington Post

Only a portion of one sentence of Mel Gibson’s scripted mea culpa is relevant, in response to his Malibu drunken anti-Semitic tirade of recent days. “I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display,…”

People are racists. Actors are people. Therefore actors are racist, or can be – just like everybody else. This racism exists generally behind alert ‘mental bodyguards’, but sometimes circumstances dismiss that guard and the ugly truths come out, as in Mr. Gibson’s case.

As an aside, this is why the ‘one drink’ rule is so important. It says that all interaction should cease after one alcoholic beverage. Nurse that drink, water it down, do whatever you must, but when it is gone, you should be too.

In any event, anti-Semitism is a good place to focus our need for understanding, because it is perhaps the oldest known form of racism. Jewish lineage and travails have made the group noteworthy at the same time as the beginning of recorded history. What we learn about our history of hatred for Jews informs all other hatreds and solutions as well. By all means, let us talk.

Now to be fair, Jews like actors, are also racist. I recall a Jewish co-worker once chiding a White co-worker on how anti-Semitism forced Jews to create their own country clubs. But what was loss on my Jewish colleague was that those same Jews, in turn, excluded Blacks from their club for similar reasons of race and religion. The same applies to Blacks, and so on.

When Whites, Jews, Blacks, Arabs, et al reach the point where they can openly acknowledge that we are all racists, bigots, anti-Semites, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian, and anti-you-name-it as a by-product of our humanity, only then will we be at the point of real examination, and potential progress - that point where Mr. Gibson has so dramatically placed himself.

James C. Collier

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