How little we know

I’ve been storing this blog post up for quite some time. Mainly because it deals with such a sensitive issue; namely race and racism. I have been reading some commentary on such things as reverse racism and affirmative action from both the Right by Larry Elder and the Left by Al Franken.

In his book “Ten Things You Can’t Say In America” Larry Elder says that blacks are more racist than whites. While I find this to be a little obtuse I have to think he, as an African American, would know a little more about this than I would (by the way he hates the term “African American”). His views on affirmative action are interesting as well. He basically says that it has served its purpose and that it is time for blacks to stand on their own two feet.

Al Franken has a different view on affirmative action in his book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.” Al says that a baseball coach once told him that if you have two base runners who can both run to first base in the same amount of time, but that one of them has perfect running form he would choose the other runner because you can teach him better form and, thus, get a better time to first from him. In turn, Al translates this into academics. If you have one student who has two middle class parents, went to a good high school and scored a 1300 on their SAT and then you have a student who went to a bad high school, had a single working mother and worked two jobs while going to school and still managed to get a 1200 on their SAT who is to say they are any less qualified than the first student?

I am completely torn. They are both good arguments. I think the problem is that schools rely too much on black and white scores (a la “No Child Left Behind”) and not on extenuating circumstances surrounding each individual. I also believe that using a persons skin color as a scoring method is not the answer – but what is? I would think wealth would be a better indicator of who is in need of assistance, but that could be open to debate as well.

As to the charge that Elder makes that blacks are more racist than whites I have a short personal story to tell. I was talking with one of my newest fraternity brothers, who happens to be black, at the student union the other day. I was there fulfilling some of my alumni advisor duties and stopped to talk to him while he was chatting with a short, rather cute black girl. After she had walked away he apologized for her rather cold reception of me telling me she was a “racist”. I was floored. A few minutes later we were talking about something else when a girl walked by who would make a dead man’s head turn. I made a comment on how pleasing she was to the eye andĀ heĀ asked “You’re into that?” (the girl happened to be black). “Into what?” I asked. There’s a reason by Beyonce and Naomi Campbell are two of the most sought after beauties in the world – it’s because they are amazing samples of the female form – not because there are a bunch of white boys out there with fetishes for black women.

It was after this little conversation that I realized something. Blacks and whites know very little about one another. We instead choose to ignore each other and mind our own business in the hopes of not upsetting the other. This is, of course, wrong. I’m not sure what the answer to our “racial” differences (I’d say “cultural” differences, but who am I to say) is, but I do know the current laissez-fair approach is only a temporary fix.

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