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The Opposite of Racism Isn’t Colorblindness


Gonsalves

If

St. Paul was right, that the wages of sin is death, is it a stretch to say that

the wages of white supremacy is colorblindness?

To

suggest such a thing, I’m sure, makes a good number of white brothers and

sisters uneasy, thinking perhaps Black Americans have deserted Dr. King’s dream

where people are judged by the content of their character and not by the color

of their skin.

Forget that King, just before his death, called for affirmative action in his

last book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" His dream wasn’t that

everyone would not recognize color, but that skin pigmentation would not be used

as the key measure of human potential.

King

wasn’t so naive to think a society steeped in centuries of white supremacy would

be magically transformed into a colorblind utopia. I’m not suggesting that

affirmative action is our salvation, but neither is it the reverse racism that

some opponents claim.

A

hard-working white person is sure to raise the question: Why should I be made to

pay for America’s past racial sins? Evidently, voluntary cooperation is not an

option.

In a

nation where the majority of its citizens are at least nominally-affiliated

Christians, it seems such questions are more knee-jerk deflection than

thoughtful reflection.

Eating of the fruit produced by sinful forbears is to partake in the original

sin, according to one of the central tenets of the Christian faith.

Deuteronomy 5:9 says: "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the

iniquity of the fathers upon the children of the third and fourth generation of

them that hate me."

The

point here isn’t to promulgate evangelical Christianity. That’s Cal Thomas’ job.

I just find it hard to believe that people in a Christian-saturated society are

perplexed by the idea of paying for sins committed by previous generations.

I

haven’t come across any studies that document how much wealth black slaves were

robbed of by two centuries of unpaid servitude, particularly in the cotton

industry — an industry central to America’s early economic success.

But,

several years ago, a University of California at Berkeley study found that the

value of lost income to black Americans because of discrimination between 1929

and 1969 alone comes to about $1.6 trillion.

So,

contrary to Thomas Sowell’s distortions, the idea of reparations is not about

convincing people whose ancestors arrived in America after the Civil War that

they owe anybody anything for what happened in the ante- bellum South. Clearly,

black economic deprivation goes far beyond the Civil War and the ante-bellum

South.

It

was AFTER slavery that America allowed the Black Codes, a set of laws designed

to restrict the labor mobility of the newly freed slaves, guaranteeing cheap

labor for white planters. One code stipulated that any freed slave without

"lawful employment" would be subject to arrest and then be leased to a white

employer.

So

there is a qualitative and quantitative difference between the economic

hardships faced by black America and those confronted by every other immigrant

group in this nation’s history.

Check

the history of the U.S. housing market, for starters. Ford Foundation member Dr.

Melvin Oliver observes how many of his white colleagues were able to buy a house

because of a transfer of assets before the death of their parents. This down

payment on their homes was a benefit available to few blacks because of bank

red-lining and other such policies.

Oliver also notes the central role Uncle Sam played in creating a strong white

middle class with the GI Bill and federal subsidies of mortgages, to name just a

few privileges inaccessible to most blacks at the time.

As

you read these words, state universities across America are looking to replicate

a new admissions approach used by the University of California at San Diego,

which hires high school guidance counselors to review the overwhelming number of

applications they receive.

One

of these counselors who is moonlighting as an admissions officer is from

Eastlake High School in San Diego — not exactly a bastion of the

underprivileged.

The

counselor, Nancy Nieto, gets inside information that students crave: the outline

for the perfect essay and the right combination of high school classes, the

Boston Globe reported last week.

"It’s

really interesting to see what other applicants write in their essays, and how

they write," Nieto told the Globe. "My kids can compete better. I know what to

tell them to put down."

As

that story illustrates, all across America there is an informal social network

that gives whites preferential treatment in gaining access to a limited range of

economic opportunities. Can colorblindness really be the answer, when, in a

race-obsessed society, it renders white-skin privilege invisible?

Sean

Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated columnist. His

column runs on Tuesdays. E-mail him at [email protected]

 

 

  

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