As I ponder racism in the employment sector of the United States, I am stuck on the fact that so many people continue to talk of the huge gains that Blacks have made in breaking into the White dominated business world since the civil rights movement. But I am disappointed in these so called huge gains. We are still woefully under represented in the American White dominated work force. There are questions to whether this is due to White racism or to Blacks whatever or to the dysfunction of affirmative action.
After slavery ended Blacks during the reconstruction era were building small but prosperous towns all around the south run completely by self sufficient freed slaves autonomous of White America. But unfortunately, these towns struck a negative chord in the White communities since they disproved White’s conviction of Blacks inferiority. The rise of White terrorist groups such as the KKK was launched to terrorize the inhabitants and burn entire towns to the ground in order to keep their superiority complex alive. These types of scenarios are well documented and continued for years. This forced Blacks to move closer to the White communities where they had to settle for a second class living and working arrangement.
Blacks did not have the money power of their White neighbors yet managed to live very cohesively within their own communities. They ran the businesses that served the Black community since services could not be obtained from Whites due to segregation and Jim Crow laws. Separate meant anything but equal which had them feeling the pinch in schools and also in daily life so Blacks called for civil rights. Once this was obtained and Blacks were allowed to apply for employment with White companies the Blacks that could left the Black community in search of the White American dream. This caused the majority of businesses to close in the Black community due to lack of income. Now more Blacks being unable to obtain work from the local businesses had no choice but to find work in White owned American companies, where discrimination still reigned supreme. This discrimination led to the advent of affirmative action which was a means to force these White companies to hire minorities and women.
Whites had to be forced to allow Blacks into the workforce. Yet you listen to all the people who come down hard on unemployed Blacks such as Bill Cosby, John McWhorter, Shelby Steele, Clarence Thomas and Stanley Crouch, and you hear them say that the only thing the Black race has to do is pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a degree then all worries are over. What is it about the root of the Black condition that these fools don’t understand? It looks pretty obvious to me but then if I say the root is racism I am being a race hustler or racially divisive. I believe the racists utilizing their White privilege to further perpetrate the status or lack there of in the Black community are the race hustlers and racially divisive.
So why aren’t these self appointed so called voices of the Black community addressing why the majority of companies don’t reflect the racial makeup of this country even with affirmative action? They are overwhelmingly represented by Whites but since Blacks make up about 13% of the nation if all things were equal wouldn’t we be 13% of the workers and wouldn’t 13% of businesses themselves be owned by Blacks as well. So will pulling my self up by my bootstraps somehow cause racist White business owners to hire me? Since discrimination is supposedly for the most part behind us then how these companies are staying so devoid of a real Black presence is a wonder? I would love for Bill Cosby or John McWhorter to tell me the names of all the fortune 500 businesses that are headed by a Black CEO and employs predominantly Black workers.
Black people are in a constant state of shame, ridicule, harsh judgment, being criticized, harassed, suspected and embarrassed. On top of this we have to endure the same treatment from some of our so called brothers and sisters on a constant basis. Unfortunately for the men listed above getting a degree and long bootstraps don’t always cut it. Becoming successful has more to do with being given a chance by the White benefactors than bootstrap pulling or degree holding. You could have every degree offered and if the plethora of White business men don’t want to hire you for whatever reason, trust me, you can pull every boot strap you can find till they break and that won’t get your Black degree holding butt into a good paying job. I am not saying that a degree doesn’t help but it isn’t the golden ticket that these fellows would like us all to think it is. Having a degree isn’t a guarantee of anything except that you have broadened your skills and your knowledge base.
With the further loss of affirmative action I believe that these White companies will become even more white. Somehow affirmative action couldn’t even up the racial disparity in most of these companies yet we are supposed to sit by while the racists are put even more in charge of Black’s employment fate. For more on affirmative action and the Black read Brotherpeacemaker’s Affirmative action is my bootstrap. I don’t think that we would willingly put Al-Qaeda in charge of the United States Defense Department. That would prove to be counter productive. So why then do we think that putting the people who for years have protected their privilege all the while denying us the opportunity to earn a decent living is going to work out any better? Why do we insist on relying on White America to steer our lives in the direction that we actually need to go?