Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Affirmative Actionomics

Forgive me in advance, but when a Black man says that affirmative action should be repealed because it hurts White people it conjures up Richard Pryor's old comedy album, "That Negro's (sic) Crazy". Now I am not trying to start or end an N-word debate, just having a fit of unplugged, cold-filtered, honesty.

Nevertheless, this brief relief only makes it all the more difficult to argue in concert for the repeal of affirmative action, mind you not for its unfairness to Whites, per the words of he who shall not be named, but rather what it has wrought upon its targeted benefactors, Blacks. When you shift a whole group of people from their center of competence, you may not knock them out of the game, but you sure as heck knock them off their competitive stride. So it is no wonder that the under performance of Blacks which we witness in higher education makes its way to the workplace, and throughout every nook-and-cranny of our census tracks.

Who would argue with the logic of not putting average students in high school into advanced placement (AP) classes? To do so would surely commit those students to needless struggle, hampered learning, and under achievement. Yet this is exactly what affirmative action does in college admissions. The ethnic plus factors propels said recipients into more rigorous settings that drag down their performance, grades, attitudes, and future success.

As it stands, we could aptly rename this brand of affirmative action as 'catch and release' owing to recruitment programs, lower grades, and higher dropout rates. This recurring sham is the direct result of promoting Black students into situations where the competition takes them to task, minus the protection of the admission's officers, donning their peel-and-stick gold stars for whatever 'lure' worked this season.

Programs to help Blacks and others earn their way into all tiers of higher education are definitely needed and will deliver if given the chance. What is not helping is the 'set-up' for greater failure that affirmative action delivers today, as some perennially sing 'we shall overcome…someday'.

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why Doesn't White Adopt Black

Why Doesn't White Adopt Black - Washington Post

Many years ago a college friend asked what I thought of the idea of her and her husband, both White, adopting a Black baby. Without hesitation, I said I thought it was an excellent idea, if this is what they really wanted. Only more discussion revealed that she was really hoping for a different answer from me. It seems they were waffling between a Chinese baby and a Black child.

Instead of looking for support, she seemed to be fishing for something to relieve them of preferring the Chinese baby over the Black baby. My twenty-something idealism was not about to give her a break. It seemed such a clear case of racism, all these poor Black babies ignored, for Asian and Russian babies born into similar squalor, half way around the world.

So why do I see it differently now? Why would I now tell her to go ahead and get the baby she wants? Very simply, far away babies are malleable in part because no one will ever come for them. This is very important in adopting. Hispanic and Asian babies represent large swaths of disparate ethnicities, naturally uninviting those who might try to claim them as one of their own. Black American culture alternately will claim anybody with darkened skin, even a 'brother from another planet', as in the movie by the same name.

White parents adopting Black children face a Catch-22 challenge in that they will be encouraged to place their child in the various role-modeling company of Blacks whose rhetoric will make that child feel like they must chose between the parents and authentic blackness.

When a White person adopts a Black child they should consider all the reasons that child might reject them, and what aid and comfort that child will receive if and when they ever take such a course. The farther an adopted child is away from their location of ethnic of origin (LEO), the more defensible and lasting the bond they will likely develop with their new family. It really is that simple.

Update: It seems that international transracial adoptions between Black children and European parents are on the rise, and I would suggest that this is due, in part, to lower emotional barriers aided by distance.

James C. Collier


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Monday, December 25, 2006

Hardworking Godfather Of Soul

Hardworking Godfather Of Soul - Washington Post

Eternal Soul - Washington Post

Elvis was great, but did not do it. Weird Michael Jackson tried to buy it. The Rolling Stones shot blanks from the start. Eric Clapton was too shy. So what is it? - capturing a moment of need of a people.

The Beatles did it. Elton John, perhaps when Lady Diana died. Bono has certainly given it a good shot with AIDS. And then there was James Brown. Before Black people could officially start the struggle that will be unflinchingly theirs for many years to come, they had to find a toe-hold in themselves.

The name began as nigger, then colored, then Negro, then Black, and now sometimes African-American. But it will always be the Godfather of Soul's challenging proclamation, "(Say It Loud) I'm Black And I'm Proud", that put Black Americans, and the world on notice that how they view the group needed to change, even to this day. The Black Panthers may have lit the match, but it was Brown who tossed the log.

Back then it was a struggle to be proud of something as simple as the color of one's skin. Today, the song stands also as a monument of how all rhetoric has its limitations. The failure of Blacks to drive the superficial views of skin color to the recesses of their hearts, minds, and hands is crisply captured in Brown's roller-coaster life. Ah, but what a star he was.

Prince is the only artist that seems to really have what it takes to steal the thunder, or at least carry the water of James Brown. Let us hope he continues this legacy. As it remains for Blacks, the group cannot be proud while too many pursue academic ignorance, and spiritual bankruptcy. Regardless of how many songs Blacks sing or rap, sports awards they capture, or Oscar's they mantle, it is diplomas and PhD's earned that accurately measure the pace and direction of advancement of the group. Nothing accelerates a group faster than the leading edge of learning. But the value needs to be deep-rooted, and unfortunately it looks nothing like bling.

R.I.P, JB.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Post-Revolutionary Recognition

Post-Revolutionary Recognition - Washington Post

The world of political correctness makes for strange bedfellows of thought.

While it was distressing to many of his lineage, Thomas Jefferson's intimate relationship with Sally Hemmings, which seemed to move beyond a master raping a slave girl, offered mild rehabilitation to his racist founder image. Former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond took a similar walk, but in neither case did these revelations change who they were or what they stood for.

It pings odd that a black slave, with no rights as the property of another, should be posthumously elevated to the distinction of patriot. A patriot is someone who gives of themselves, freely and clearly, for a cause they believe in. Could Oscar Marion, slave of General Francis Marion, freely decided to support a regime that kept him in bondage? Jose would probably say no-way.

This is not to declare that Mr. Marion's family should not either be proud of him or want his face, on a painting in the Capitol building, to have a name, for all to see.

But what is really going on here? We are equating being an exemplary slave with being a patriot worthy of presidential honor, and in doing so we ignore that undermining their masters was the highest, and perhaps most noble, form of battle slaves could undertake in their quest for freedom.

We should rightly recognized Blacks and Whites who gave their lives so that Blacks could be free to become true patriots, as the Massachusetts 54th Regiment and others so willingly displayed from the Civil War, up to the present. PC correctness aside, there were no good or bad slaves, just men women and children placed in very difficult circumstances, with little or no choices.

James C. Collier


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Monday, December 04, 2006

Court Hears Cases on Schools And Race

Court Hears Cases On Schools And Race - Washington Post

Desegregation of America's public school system, during the 1970's and 80's, was one of those promising experiments that failed so badly that few people bothered to figure out why. The court mandates were withdrawn, the buses idled, and the country quietly went back to the challenging tasks of teaching kids to read and write, in place.

So now the high court will debate the wisdom of the rare school systems, Louisville and Seattle, that continue to hold on to this updated vestige, under the diversity argument. Unfortunately, their decision, whatever it is, will be politicized, only to become fuel for continued challenge.

To be clear, desegregation did not fail because the students, or their parents, fought each other, or otherwise failed to get along. It failed because integration in the classroom did not bring about the parity of academic results its proponents promised.

The segregation that existed in neighborhoods, and still largely exist today, followed the kids off the buses and into the school buildings. Not only did the kids sit at different tables in the lunchroom, and socialize along racial lines, they split academically into advanced placement (AP), standard, and remedial study tracks. In fact, the accusation of 'acting white', in this context, is often precipitated by Black student participation in said AP classes, with a majority of White and Asian students.

While students can certainly pick up behaviors here and there from their mates, the overwhelming majority of both advancing and thwarting behaviors are the product of family, greater cultural and ethnic norms, which exert significant influence. These norms have Black kids rejecting advancing behaviors as though assimilation is being disloyal to the race.

In these days, engineering students of different races into the same school building and expecting to cure societal or group ills, while politically correct, is nothing more than a distraction. Let us hope the justices do not ignore this as they make their decision.

James C. Collier


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Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Word That Is The Very Definition Of Unspeakable et al

The Word That Is The Very Definition Of Unspeakable - Washington Post

Black Owner of LA Club Welcomes N-Word - AP

The most recent publicized response of the Black community to the Michael Richards stand-up tirade is illustrative of continued allegiance to outdated, ineffective strategies to advancement. Back by popular demand is the current moral and legislative approach that challenges the word itself, rather than the disparities that feed it.

Telling Blacks or Whites that they should not use the word ‘nigger’, or any variation, is an infringement on the first amendment right of free speech. This follows because use of the word does not automatically create any legally actionable course – no matter how much some dislike the term.

Making the utterance of the word a 'thought crime' only insures that it stays around even longer than it otherwise might, if we were to concentrate on addressing the disparities at the base of societal disharmony. It is this disharmony that encourages Blacks to co-op the word, in part, taking away its sting, while that very sting is what Whites, and Blacks, use to editorialize their disapproving assessment of challenging behavioral norms.

In the end, rules will not stop usage of the term, either by Whites or Blacks. It exists, with all of its power, for a reason. Whether to editorialize disparity, disenfranchisement, tension, and conflict, or the resulting raw emotions of fear and hate, the word has a job. No amount of moralizing, or rules, or legislation, can terminate it - as it really is just a reflection.

James C. Collier


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