In a recent column, I lamented that rap would be on the 2018 Dogwood Festival program. Rev. Bryant Riddick, a frequent reader of my column, sent me an email detailing objections to the thoughts I shared in that column. Part of what he said in the first email, and then in a follow-up email (in response to my comments), prompted thoughts regarding affirmative action efforts and programs.
In arguing for rap at the Dogwood Festival, Riddick wrote the following in his first email: “Check out what I am saying and I believe you will partly agree that the rap is not racism on the part of black people ‘pushing their way in’ – but it is black people taking their seat at a table that was meant for them in the first place, we are just late getting there – but now we are here to add our flavor to what can be a greater event for Fayetteville – inclusion of Hispanics is probably next.”
I responded to that statement by asking him to explain how one decides which tables must be open to black Americans. That is, do we have a right to insist on inclusion anywhere we choose? Does the same apply to white Americans?
Rev. Riddick responded by saying, “Sometimes our inclusion (no matter what group we identify ourselves with) is a matter of participating in areas or events where we haven’t chosen to in the past – this may or may not require an invite, but a simple communication to those who would welcome the company! If our participation is forced or coerced, then I agree that the process is broken – but not by those trying to sit at a table where they originally were not wanted, but by those who created the table and broken process in the first place.”
From this exchange, as to black Americans, I concluded Rev. Riddick is saying we have a right to join any organization, be included in any activity, be substantially represented in various professions and areas of employment and so forth. Where such involvement is not the case, black Americans bear no responsibility. Riddick seems to argue that any lack of involvement is solely because those who control these opportunities withhold them from black Americans.
This exchange, and my understanding of what Riddick said, prompted thoughts regarding affirmative action programs in America. That is because I believe Riddick’s kind of thinking gave birth to, and sustains, affirmative action efforts. The editors of Encyclopedia Britannica say the following about affirmative action: “Affirmative action, in the United States, an active effort to improve employment or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and for women. Affirmative action began as a government remedy to the effects of long-standing discrimination against such groups and has consisted of policies, programs, and procedures that give preferences to minorities and women in job hiring, admission to institutions of higher education, the awarding of government contracts, and other social benefits. The typical criteria for affirmative action are race, disability, gender, ethnic origin, and age.”
I have concluded affirmative action is doing far more harm than good for black Americans. Justice Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court, a black man, points to the first reason for this conclusion on my part. Erin Fuchs writes the following in an article titled “How Clarence Thomas Grew to Hate Affirmative Action.”
“Clarence Thomas – who’s famously quiet during oral arguments – has written that affirmative action amounts to racial discrimination and is every bit as wrong as segregation or slavery.
“Thomas graduated from Yale Law School, and in 2007 he attacked his alma mater’s affirmative action policies in his memoir and in an interview with ABC News. Thomas argued that what he called the stigmatizing effects of affirmative action put him at a huge disadvantage when he was trying to find work as a lawyer.
“Thomas said he went on interviews with one ‘highpriced lawyer’ after another who didn’t take him seriously because they thought he got special treatment.
“’Many asked pointed questions, unsubtly suggesting they doubted I was as smart as my grades indicated,’” Thomas told ABC News.
My experiences say that Thomas is absolutely right; affirmative action discriminates and stigmatizes. It discriminates in that the selection for a position, or whatever situation is involved, focuses on race, gender, disability and so on, rather than qualifications for the position or situation. Those persons who benefit from the programs are then often seen as less qualified and less capable of doing the job for which they have prepared. In the end, many get the treatment Thomas described.
Second, affirmative action programs far too often nurture an entitlement attitude that is compounded by an accompanying victim mentality. This process repeatedly shows up in American society. Consider the following statement from www.drshirin.com/victimme.htm regarding victim mentality.
“The victim mentality is characterized by pessimism, self-pity, repressed anger and a belief that life is beyond one’s control. Victims blame any and every available scapegoat (fate, circumstances, other people, even objects!) for their problems and disappointments. They often lead a crisis-ridden lifestyle, going from one trauma to another, never seeing the contribution they make in creating their own crises. According to them, nothing is ever their fault.”
Here is an example of how this debilitating entitlement attitude/victim mentality process plays out in real life. There is ongoing extensive attention being given to the lack of blacks at the upper level in the administration of President Donald Trump, who is a Republican. I listened to a black attorney on a television news program express pure outrage at the low number of blacks in the Trump administration. Article after article addresses this situation.
Following are excerpts from an article titled “Omarosa’s exit highlights lack of diversity at Trump White House.”
“The departure of the former Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault-Newman from the White House this week has placed the lack of diversity in Donald Trump’s administration under renewed scrutiny.
“‘There is no comparison. Black diversity in the White House is almost oxymoronic at this point,’ said Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and the first African-American to hold the post. ‘It’s not for a lack of names or people who qualify … This continued pretense that it’s so hard to find (people of color) to do the job is just ridiculous at this point.’”
It is strongly contended by Michael Steele, and a multitude of other black Americans, that there should be a greater representation of blacks in the Trump administration.
My voter registration is Republican. Consequently, I attend Republican events such as county and state conventions, rallies, candidate forums and so forth. At each of the two North Carolina state conventions that I attended, there were hundreds of people, but only a handful of blacks. At the recent Cumberland County Republican Convention, there were no more than six blacks in attendance. I, like other blacks who do not hide their Republican affiliation or conservative views, have been, and am, ridiculed by other blacks.
The contention of those who ridicule is that Republicans oppress blacks, do not care about us and pursue policies that are detrimental to our well-being. A review of Republican history, well intentioned engagement with most Republicans, reasoned examination of policies and honest assessment of what Democrats have promised but not done for black America will paint a different picture.
Instead, the overwhelming majority of blacks claim victim status because of false assumptions ascribed to Republicans. The result is black America’s blind allegiance to the Democratic Party, while most make no attempt to know what is possible through involvement with the Republican Party.
In spite of almost total rejection of the Republican Party by blacks, there is this expectation of significant black representation in the Republican Trump administration. This reflects the entitlement attitude that I hold is nurtured by affirmative action efforts and compounded by a pervasive victim mentality.
America needs a realistic assessment of affirmative action programs and efforts. Will it happen? I put the probability at zero.
Photo: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas