Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Acting White: The Swimming/Drowning Gap

Black kids between the ages of 10-14 drown at a rate that is 4.5 times white kids their same age. Contrary to the myths about buoyancy, bone density, and other assorted nonsense, there is no legitimate reason for this disparity.

My sixteen-year old daughter is a varsity swimmer. She and her younger brother have been swimming from an early age, as did I. Although being a competitive swimmer encourages the accusations of ‘acting white’, she is undaunted because she has been taught to think past it.

Interestingly enough, her grades improved when she joined the swim team, although the workouts have given her less time to study. One reason might be that the swim ‘crowd’ is markedly more academic than her other friends, but good exercise feeds the brain too. She continues to like rap/hip-hop music, but has also added alternative rock to her iPod playlist.

It was heartening to see Cullen Jones, a champion swimmer, who happens to be black, swimming in World Championships in Melbourne, on the same team as the phenomenal Michael Phelps. Perhaps the wake of their exploits will encourage black kids to challenge accusations that only thwart their advancement.

I was lucky. I learned to swim at the YMCA some forty years ago, long before my Jesuit educators required it of me. I taught swimming, diving, and lifeguarded as well, on my way to becoming more comfortable with challenges errantly considered the purview of whites. I was rewarded by these experiences one day when I rescued a young girl, a black girl, who was drowning unnoticed in a busy pool.

I hope that Jones’ success, along with courageous kids, like my girl, ultimately bring the drowning and injury toll down for blacks. The sooner, the better. Go Cullen!

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Acting White: America's Slavery Experiment

I have always contended that slavery is slavery. Black slavery was no better or worse than any other slavery, including what happened in Europe, or China, India, or Africa. Inasmuch, America’s slavery deserves no special consideration. Well, I was wrong. There was an aspect of American slavery that was ‘new and improved’ over previous human bondage, and this difference has had an impact on the plight of Blacks, and is worthy of discussion.

During the time of the Atlantic slave trade, trans-oceanic travel was relatively new to humankind. Prior to this, slaves were maintained relatively close to their LEOs (Locations of Ethnic Origin). If freed, they could either remain near their former masters or return to their original homes. This option allowed the slaves and their enslavers to reach some sort of ‘agreement’ on what was best for all, moving forward.

So the first mistake the European settlers made in the new world was to import forced labor, across vast distances, minus a plan for what would happen upon the inevitable time of freedom. Snatching men, women and children from far away places, like Africa, made them easier to control, in the short-run, but much more difficult to assimilate in the longer term.

The second mistake the Europeans made was in not treating slaves humanely. This takes on greater importance, if they are later freed into nearby and ad-hoc living conditions. Pile onto this mistake, the continued mistreatment of the newly freed slaves, via Jim Crow et al, and it takes on increasing proportions. Granted, Whites believed that they could maintain barriers to the natural hostility they engendered, but as we see, barriers are temporary and memories are long.

The third mistake was perhaps the worse. By not mandating full assimilation of behaviors, responsibilities and rights in freed men immediately after emancipation when the time was ripe, the White majority locked in a disparity that will fuel debate and hostility for centuries, if not forever. If Africans were not as technologically advanced as Whites, as test show, then withholding opportunity was counterintuitive. Educated, assimilated Blacks would have represented no real threat to White control. On the other hand, purposely holding them down has arrested development and made them dissident citizens.

So there you have it. Slavery in America was indeed unique. While this may give us some measure of a better understanding for the predicament that shortsighted White settlers created, it does nothing to relieve the responsibility that Blacks have for acquiring advancing behaviors and avoiding conduct that thwarts group progress - particularly when it comes to education and crime.

James C. Collier


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Monday, March 19, 2007

Acting White: vs. Acting Black

No, My Son Doesn't 'Act Black.' There's No Such Thing. - Washington Post

My eleven-year old son came home a few months back and said he got into a slight ‘altercation’ with a White kid in his sixth-grade class. I know all the boys by name, as they form a CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) basketball team, and could not think which boy my son would get ‘sideways’ with, to cause such a big deal. It turned out to be the coach’s son, and his sin was in saying my son was trying to ‘act Black’.

Of course I immediately responded by saying to my son, ‘you ARE Black! what’s he talking about?’. After some discussion it seems that the coach’s son was not impressed with my son’s attempt to act like a kid from the ‘hood’. Something about his words and attitude marked my boy as a pretender and his teammate, who happened to be the team captain, felt no restraint in setting the record straight.

At this point my sixteen-year old daughter chimes in that it sounds like her brother was trying to act like he was from the ghetto and got busted. She went on to say that she was often accused of acting white by the Black kids in her school, and her response is always the same, ‘it’s not acting White to act like you have some sense’. So now, beyond all argument, I have proof for the naysayers that the accusations of acting White (and Black) do indeed exist. But I am puzzled.

I always wondered how someone of one race could act like a person of another race. Does not the mere accusation errantly gift ownership of behaviors to a race, when all behaviors are replicas or interpretations of something that someone else previously accomplished? To give license to a group for a particular behavior, raises the ante for assimilation, since the person acquiring the behavior must, in addition, pay a royalty in the form of feeling or looking inferior for their perceived lack of originality.

So I conclude, while the existence of accusations is true, the ability to act like another race, via assimilating the behaviors of others, is false. Acting White, or Black, is a myth, and exposing it as such is a just cause for making sure everyone has equal opportunity and responsibility to do the ‘right’ thing(s).

James C. Collier


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Acting White: What is it?

There are two circumstances of acting white. The first is academic and the more researched and talked about, wherein black students are derided, usually by other blacks, for studious behavior. The second is over arching and far more damaging, with blacks rejecting a wider swath of advancing behaviors which they have come to associate with whites. In place of these advancing behaviors, they substitute counter-productive actions often branded as cultural, in an attempt to defend their authenticity.

In the latter case, the result is a reduction or failure to assimilate behaviors that are intellectually, emotionally, and economically advancing to the group. What remain are blacks holding themselves at the rear of the opportunity line, long after whites have removed the shackles of slavery and institutional racism. The impact of this loss of contribution of the group on the country is quietly devastating.

Economically, the loss can be calculated to an astonishing $440 billion, per year, in goods and services that blacks do not generate, relative to the rest of the country. This amounts to just over 3.8% of year US Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As part of this loss, blacks suffer a significant loss of income, and resulting benefit.

Intellectually, blacks feel the impact through poor academics, under performance, high dropout rates, reduced higher education pursuit, and general feelings of inferiority compared to other groups, particularly whites. This real disparity of resulting skills translates into reduced employment, lower wages, and slower wealth accumulation. Emotionally, blacks suffer greater comparable stress related impacts, including heath problems, interpersonal challenges, and a lower general quality of life.

The acting white phenomena began when W. African slaves were first delivered into this country in the 1500’s. The accusation has evolved from laws first enacted and long enforced by whites to bar blacks from developing skills that would advance the group, and challenge white control. Even as legal barriers came down, policy barriers maintained the majority objective that blacks should not assimilate the behaviors that would develop the skill base for propelling them into the American Dream.

In the last 50 years policy has reluctantly recognized the cost of its anti-assimilation strategy, forced upon blacks, and has largely eliminated it. However, blacks remain significantly in a state, or mind set, of anti-assimilation whereby many members of the group continue to freely reject the advancing behaviors their ancestors were earlier denied by law. This scope of rejection has grown to include lawlessness and violence perpetrated inside and outside the group, resulting in a soaring black prison population.

We, including individuals on all sides of the issues, have yet to come to effective terms with the evolution and remnants of anti-assimilation attitudes and policies, fostered for 400 years by the white majority, and now independently operating within the black community, to the increasing detriment of the entire country.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tribe Revokes Freed Slaves' Membership et al

Tribe Revokes Freed Slaves' Membership - Washington Post

Black Caucus Questions Cherokee Vote - AP

I have always been mythically fond of Native Americans. The father of the family directly across the street from where I grew up in Denver was from Oklahoma and more than 50% Indian, and I always liked him. He was an injured Korean War veteran and a nice man.

I am also familiar with the Blackfeet Indians of Montana, through one of their Elders, Allen Talks About. Again he is a very nice man trying to solve very thorny problems his people face. Their history is replete with exploitation from Whites and now, too often, from within.

This brings me to the myths of American Indians that too many of us harbor, that somehow these people are either beyond consideration or sacred. Demonizing them has always been expedient to justifying their abuse, not unlike what was done to slaves. Alternately, casting them as a sacred people is the extreme penance of a guilty soul, and arguably an even worse fate, because it is both untrue and isolating.

That Indians held slaves, whose ancestors they are now giving the tribal boot, was sobering news to me. The truth hurts but is also freeing. It provides the chance to see them as more imperfectly human, hopefully without the guilt. Sobering to the myth as well, I now know that today’s respect which Indians have for the land and nature came as a last resort, only after they had pillaged it, and their futures long-ahead of late-arriving white men.

As with Blacks, Native Americans hold their destiny in their own hands if they choose, regardless of the peril of others. They owe Blacks nothing, and vice-versa. If revoking membership based upon blood brings them closer to taking control of their lives, we should not argue, but rather applaud their efforts.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Prosecutors Want Barry to Do Time

Prosecutors Want Barry to Do Time - Washington Post

Councilman and former DC Mayor Marion Barry should go to jail, as DC prosecutors are suggesting. His claim that he has ‘met all the terms of his current probation’ related to his recent guilty plea bargain for failure to file five years of tax returns, is a gross lie unbefitting anyone who would call themselves a leader and role model.

His public role is where the damage he represents stands out. District inhabitants look at him as a leader and father figure but for what behaviors? Thumbing his nose at laws responsible for our protection and benefit? When leaders flaunt laws for their individual enrichment they are sending a strong signal to the citizenry to consider doing the same. This only contributes to the myriad of crises facing the District.

I am not saying that the Black community should not forgive Mr. Barry for his crack-smokin’ days, or other transgression too numerous to list, or that he has not inadvertently contributed to society. However, I do think his travails have earned him a credibility problem that should reasonably keep him from the continuing embarrassment of those he is supposed to represent.

In any case, there he is on the front page, claiming those who are out to ‘get him’ unfairly. Every voter and Black leader who stands silent while he drags himself, and them, through the mud, shares in the blame. The cost of his public service is too high.

James C. Collier


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Selma Voting Rights March Commemoration - Barack Obama

Selma Voting Rights March Commemoration - Barack Obama

From Obama, a Map for a New March - Richar Cohen - Washington Post

Barack Obama walked a tightrope in Selma on Sunday, March 4. No, it was not in avoiding Hilary Clinton riding the coat tails of bad-boy ex-president Bill. No, it was not how Black Obama is, although he went out of his way to paint his experience in Africa as similar to being Black in America.

What he did was speak, as the first electable Black presidential candidate, to some of the medicine that African-Americans need to self-administer going forward. He spoke of Black men taking responsibility as fathers, and Black parents fostering behavior where pursuing education is not ‘acting white’. This is significant because these prescriptions are often self-inflicted wounds to Black politicians.

He paid respectful homage to the past civil rights battles and achievements, while adding the immigrant character and behavior that runs strong in his veins. In fact, he spoke very sparingly on what Blacks should expect from others compared to what they should expect from themselves. Yes, the haves should empathize with the have-nots, but self-determination is the foundation of his words.

The challenge that Mr. Obama faces is besting the traditional Democratic transaction that sells Blacks on promises of doing ‘right’ to make up for the past wrongs. Post-election follow through is missing-in-action; with the just-pimped Black clergy soon back to preaching about how White people keep ‘doing it to us’. Perhaps this election will be different - maybe Black folks will stop doing it to themselves.

James C. Collier


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Monday, March 05, 2007

In Diversity Push, Top Universities Enrolling More Black Immigrants

In Diversity Push, Top Universities Enrolling More Black Immigrants - Washington Post

Harvard you are so busted! Elite colleges have finally been revealed for the merit-based end-run they are perpetrating on affirmative action, and this is a very good thing for challenging the performance gap. For years these schools have been stacking their minority numbers with immigrants while pretending to be defenders of ‘we shall overcome’ diversity. Now it is out, nothing is farther from the truth.

Black immigrants and the descendants of America’s slaves have little in common beyond skin-color. Perhaps spotlighting this Ivy-League slight-of-hand can help us get to the reasons for the differences and why they translate into academic achievement that has admissions staffers salivating over some and not others. Succinctly, immigrants are not confused between ‘acting white’ and ‘acting right’. They assimilate the behaviors that propel them ahead, while dropping anything that is distracting.

The hypocrisy of these institutions lies in that they are slyly withdrawing support for affirmative action, because they know it does not work, and replacing it with something that serves their own selfish purposes – to hell with society. If they only had the courage to do this in the open, for everybody’s benefit, it would be a good thing. Instead, they speak the status quo support for handing out race-based ‘plus factors’, while scouring applicants with immigrant backgrounds and behaviors, who happen to also be black.

What they should be doing instead is showcasing the behavioral differences that they are secretly rewarding in their admissions processes. At least then parents and children of America's slave descendants would have one honest answer to why they remain at the bottom of this country’s opportunity ladder.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, March 04, 2007

NAACP President Quits, Cites Conflicts

NAACP President Quits, Cites Conflicts - Washington Post

Bruce Gordon, head of the NAACP, has thrown in the towel on running the organization, citing disagreements with the board over their management style and future operations. This resignation does not bode well for an association in search of relevance to Blacks and the group’s entrenched underclass plight.

So what went wrong? For starters, the idea of 64 board members is impossible – who could work effectively under 64 bosses? No organization, public or private, can be expected to tackle the challenges of 40 million Blacks in this configuration. Political chaos and directional confusion are maximized with this many people guiding a leader.

Having a chief with Gordon’s abilities, more firmly in the present and forward-looking, pitted against a board steadfastly rooted in a past of moral and legal strategies is a recipe for an early exit. The NAACP is most visible and aggressive when it applies guilt-producing advantage on a situation, however toothless. To his frustration, this is not how Mr. Gordon built and ran his successful business for technology giant Verizon.

I suspect that his attempts to shift the critical focus onto what Blacks should be doing for themselves, rather than demanding more of Whites, ruffled more than a few ‘feathers’ of the old guard. With a 40 year-old mantra of ‘we shall overcome’ in the backdrop, careful should walk the man or woman who plots a shift in course.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, March 01, 2007

AsianWeek Column Condemned As Racist et al

AsianWeek Column Condemned As Racist - AP

Column Creates Rumblings Along Racial Fault Line - Washington Post

Make no mistake; the game AsianWeek is playing is about money. Owner and editor-at-large Ted Fang went looking for controversy that would raise the publication’s readership and advertising revenue, and he found it in Kenneth “I Hate Blacks” Eng.

The free paper’s ad revenues are based upon circulation and as of Mr. Eng’s editorial I am sure they have gone way up. Mr. Fang has undoubtedly predetermined that his advertisers are not going to abandon him because of this ‘race-baiting stunt’, and this says a lot for his lack of integrity, as well as the assumed bigotry in the Chinese community he seeks to exploit.

The fact that local Black leaders can stand up with him, in the spotlight, and quickly accept his apologies reminds us how gullible these so-called leaders can be. Mr. Fang is insincere in dodging editorial responsibility for publishing Mr. Eng’s brand of racism. He knows it would be unfair to discipline others for editorial decisions that rest ultimately with him.

There are many in the Chinese community who see through Fang’s charade, and wish not to let him off so quickly or lightly. Their efforts should be supported, rather than diminished by standing next to him with no more than a cursory understanding of his dubious business and journalistic agenda.

James C. Collier


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