The most charitable thing that can be said about “Race divide can be bridged” (Cal Thomas column, March 26) is that it does not inform. Readers would not know that so-called white men have had affirmative action for the longest period in this land.
Or that the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action that was begun during Richard Nixon’s administration are Euro-American females rather than African Americans. Or that slavery legally ended in the United States on Dec. 18, 1865.
Thomas accepts as gospel truth professor Henry Louis Gates’ claim that slavery USA “was more about economics than race.” The writings of colonial Americans who waged a pamphleteering war with Englishmen in England, between 1760 and 1776, because they dreaded being on a footing od equality with the Africans in their midst, reveal that the Harvard University don is mistaken.
The George Washingtons and the John Adamses made their pitch for equality with Englishmen in England by insisting that only Africans deserve being in chains! Racial physical characteristics were, for these men, the things that mattered in determining who is and who is not a slave.
That was why Moses Mather of Connecticut unabashedly asserted that the “infallible criteria” of servile status are black skin, curly hair and a flat or broad nose.
Thomas harped on some of the pathologies that plague black American communities these days. He basically took the stance that these are self-inflicted illnesses.
The authors of the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders  are surer guides. They candidly admitted that white society is culpable for practically everything that does not make for vibrancy in this country’s black ghettos.
Finally, I doubt that Sen. Barack Obama’s recent call for dialogue on racial anger and resentments will yield any positive fruits. Too many so-called whites refuse to concede that they are abysmally ignorant of this nation’s social history. They compound their ignorance by being dismissive of Africans and African Americans who clearly possess superior talents, who have ample intelligence and who perform competently. Their arrogance and impertinence are limitless. That is why Thomas has no qualms asking Jesse Jackson Sr. whether he landed a TV show because of his expertise or because of his complexion. That is why both President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton have the gall to assert that Obama is not qualified to be president. That is why whenever affirmative action is discussed, the statistical evidence, unfailingly negative, centers on performance of African Americans.
These points seem to suggest that the progress touted these days on the racial front may be apparent rather than real. They suggest that the attitudes and assumptions that gave rise to the demeaning and the stunting of black people’s lives are still very much with us.
Okoye is a professor, Department of African & African American Studies, State University of New York, College at Brockport.
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