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White America Gets It, Racial and Class
Divisions Will Continue
Date: Thursday, September 15, 2005
By: Judge Greg Mathis, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com
Every so often, something in America
happens that reminds the general population that white
and black Americans are reading different pages in very
different books. In the 1990s, the L.A. riots and the
O.J. Simpson not guilty verdict proved that
this countrys race problem didnt go away
post-integration, but was merely swept under the rug.
In this decade, the Hurricane Katrina disaster or, more
appropriately, its handling, is our wake up call.
A recent USA TODAY/CNN Gallop Poll
reveals the races are sharply divided on the subject
of the victims themselves, President Bushs handling
of the situation and the reasons the government was
so slow to respond. According to the poll, six in 10
blacks say that the government responded slowly because
the majority of the victims were poor and black, while
nearly nine in 10 whites say race and class were not
a factor. Even more mind-boggling is the reality that
71 percent of blacks said the disaster response strengthened
their belief that racial bias is still a problem in
the U.S. Only 32 percent of whites agreed.
There is no doubt that the reasons
for this difference in perception can be attributed
to the disparity in the historical and current realities
of black and white Americans.
Americas historical reality is
that blacks were once considered chattel and were bought
and sold as such. When we were counted as human beings,
we werent considered whole; instead, we were thought
to be only 3/5ths of a person. Throughout all this,
many whites were able to gain money, prestige and power
-- often on the backs of our people. Fast-forward to
modern times and blacks continue to face discrimination.
American apartheid, racial bias in hiring, housing,
education, lending practices and the courts have reinforced
the idea that African-Americans are not fully valued
in this country.
Exasperating the differences in perception
is the fact that many whites are removed from the reality
of race in this country. If whites choose to do so,
they can go their entire lives and have limited contacts
with blacks and other minorities. They dont have
to learn our history in school, they dont have
to live amongst us, and they dont have to see
us in the workplace. Blacks, on the other hand, dont
have that luxury. From very early on, we are assimilated
into an American culture that has oppressed us.
President Bush says that race did not
play a role in the way the massive flooding in New Orleans
was handled. Nevertheless, the majority of the suffering,
despondent faces on television and in newspapers and
magazines belonged to our brothers and sisters. The
presidents own mother, during an interview on
National Public Radios Marketplace commented that
many of the displaced individuals were already underprivileged,
so living in the Houston Astrodome where they were evacuated
was working very well for them.
This statement lacks compassion and
shows a lack of understanding of the pervasive problems
of race and class in this country. President Bush is
not his mother, but the apple doesnt fall far
from the tree.
We can no longer accept that some things
will always be different for us, that we will always
see things differently than whites. White America must
understand how race and class divisions affect our communities.
Until they "get it," the bias that thwarts
our progress will continue.
Judge Greg Mathis is Chairman of the
Rainbow PUSH-Excel Board and a National Board Member
of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Health Fair & Expo
September 24, 2005
10:00AM - 3:00PM
Northwest Activities Center - Ballroom 18100 Meyers Rd.
Key Note Speakers
Dr. Sandra J. Harris
Alma Wheeler Smith
Sandra J. Harris
began her career in education in the Ann
Arbor Public Schools. She began her employment in that
school district as a teacher and over the next 22 years,
she worked her way through the ranks to the position of
Director of Personnel. Her trademark was helping
students who were less fortunate than others.
After working in various capacities, Dr. Harris decided to
leave the comforts of home in the Ann Arbor Schools
and ventured out to a new district, as well as a new position.
working in the Lincoln Consolidated School District as Assistant
Superintendent 7 years ago. Through her excellent communication,
leadership, and organizational skills, she was successful in
personnel practices that fostered a positive and constructive
relationship between the employees and administrators.
Dr. Harris was named the Interim Superintendent for Lincoln
October, 2003. She was appointed as the permanent Superintendent
school district in March, 2004. Dr. Harris became the Superintendent
Oak Park School District on July 1, 2005. She is working to
challenges that have been set forth through No Child Left Behind
Education! YES. Her plans and goals include increasing student
being fiscally responsible, and retaining a staff that is second
Dr. Harris possesses several degrees, the most recent being
Degree in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University.
Harris is very active in civic and community activities. She
is also a member
of several professional organizations. She is the recipient
of many awards,
with the most recent being the Women of Distinction award from
Scouts of the Huron Valley Council and being honored as one
of the Most
Influential Women by Business Direct Weekly.
2001, Alma Wheeler Smith became the first black
candidate for governor in the state of Michigan. She came
to that race with a depth of experience in life -- raising
three children as a working mom and sharing in the care
of her aging mother. That life experience was matched by
18 years of intensive government know-how in elected
office from the grassroots up: eight years on the South
Lyon Community School Board (three as President), a
two-year term on the Washtenaw County Commission
and eight years in the Michigan Senate where as Democratic
vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee she was the first woman
hold a leadership position on that powerful committee.
Alma is, unquestionably, one of the most respected members of
and she brings her integrity, knowledge and strategic skill back
as a new
member of the Michigan House. Elected in November 2004, she again
on the Appropriations Committee where she is Democratic vice-chair
the Community Health and Corrections sub-committees. Alma represents
54th District: Augusta, Salem, Superior, Ypsilanti Townships and
the City of
Ypsilanti. Her House district is home to Eastern Michigan University,
St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and Washtenaw Community College.
Smith received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Michigan
took advanced degree work in Journalism and Business Administration.
shares her old farm house in Salem Township with the pet menagerie
behind by three, now adult, children
Larry Warren Plans to Retire
Ann Arbor News
Larry Warren, Director and chief executive officer
of the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers is retiring
after 29 years. Mr. Warren is in charge of the day-to-day operations
at all three UM hospitals and all of its outpatient clinics.
Warren's retirement is effective Oct. 1. He is
on the Eastern Michigan University Foundation Doard of Trustee and
is a member of the 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, Inc.
He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration
in 1972 and a master's degree in education administration in 1973
from Eastern Michigan University.
Project for the Future of Minority Studies:
"Redefining Identity Politics
Internationalism, Feminism, Multiculturalism"
October 17-19, 2002 at
The University of Michigan
A Junior Scholars Caucus Event sponsored by the Global Ethnic
Literatures Seminar and the Future of Minority Studies National
Research Project, a coalition of scholars and universities
devoted to the democratizing role of minority education
Fourth in a series of national conversations undertaken
by the Project for the Future of Minority Studies at Binghamton,
Cornell, and Stanford universities, "Redefining Identity
Politics: Internationalism, Feminism, Multiculturalism"
investigates the international stakes of minority identity,
with special emphasis on the contributions of feminism and
multiculturalism. The central intellectual thrust of the conference
will be defined by three workshops, each one based loosely
on texts central to the future of minority studies. The other
five sessions will pose questions about identity politics
of continuing concern and contestation.
The workshop texts are available online here:
21st Century Feminist Classrooms,
For information, contact the Program in Comparative Literature
(734) 763-2351, or email@example.com
is time for ABPAFS elections, so if you or someone you know
wants to be an officer (President, Vice President, Secretary,
Please send the names to
case you missed Bill Maher's Real Time on HBO last Friday
night, his closing bit:
"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more.
There's no more money to spend--you used up all
of that. You can't start another war because you used up the
And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the
Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom.
The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking
to you. Mission accomplished.
"Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose
interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service
and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to
move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space
man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things
that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't.
I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with
Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the
space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie
Mae. Giving embryos the vote.
"But, Sir, none of that is going to
happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives.
You'veperformed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given
yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.
Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded
an entire city to rising water and snakes.
"On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the
surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon
and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm
not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how
much worse it could be if you were on the other side.
"So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is:
'Take a hint.' "