Yeah, this might be a big stretch but, frankly, I’m getting tired of home drama and am redirecting my focus to – gasp – the bigger picture….
I admit I didn’t think too much about Sotomajor’s nomination to the Court, other than a fleeting “cool, a woman!” I’m still recovering from the election last fall.
But it came up last week at, of all places, the orthodontist office; the doctor himself mentioned it as we spent an enjoyable few minutes discussing politics. When I got home I read, in more leisurely fashion, the article in the Post about the Court’s apparent disagreement with a decision which Sotomajor endorsed. I’m speaking, of course, of the famous firefighters’ case.
See – and this is going to tick off a lot of people – I think all the hullabaloo over discrimination is a pretty big crock. Sure, there are cases, even today in this politically correct climate of ours, which tell us that discrimination still exists. But if we keep going the way we’re headed, EVERYONE will soon be eligible for Affirmative Action.
Here are the facts: blacks were brought to America to serve as slaves, several hundred years ago; this practice was wrong, but accepted. In 1866, slavery was abolished. That was, conservatively speaking, approximately five or six generations ago. And folks are still complaining.
I’m considered white, although I have an ancestry that includes Native Americans, somewhere along the line, and who-knows-what other races. Back in 1866, some of my family were sharecroppers; I’m sure they got reamed a time or two by the Big Boss – although probably not beaten and chained. Given the family history I’ve uncovered, that may not, however, be the case. I do not believe all of them were literate, although one went on to be a preacher so probably was able to read, write, and cipher.
Most blacks in America were still, in most locales, legally not allowed an education or a mind or many freedoms whatsoever. Discrimination based on color was rampant.
The next generation fared a bit better – this would be the early 1890s – the War was over, after all, and Reconstruction and its attendant perils were becoming less every day. My own ancestors still weren’t much into schooling, but they did own their own land. Probably obtained squatters’ rights, but whatever. They still made their own moonshine and married their daughters off at fifteen.
Blacks were free, but of course many constraints still existed regarding education, property ownership, and the equal application of the law – in many, many areas. There were, however, options. Options like homesteading, learning trades, self-education. Many took advantage of whatever opportunities arose; many did not. Just like whites.
Moving into the era of WWI, few of my family fought for their country – likely still licking their wounds from the War Between the States, or hiding out from the law. Ditto for WWII. Darn certain that education still wasn’t important to most of them.
Blacks were frequently unwelcome in the armed services; but many enlisted, and some rose in rank. Schools began to open to blacks, and many received good educations, opened businesses, became homeowners.
Then came my own generation. I’ve been fairly diligent about my own schooling, although I still carry a bit of prejudice against the formal variety. However, I have learned from the previous generation that a person can indeed make of themselves almost what they wish. I say “almost” because life does tend to get in the way sometimes.
So what’s the difference between this generation of blacks and whites? I can only comment upon that which I’ve observed or read about: a US Government report from 1946 indicated that nearly 55% of citizens aged 18-19 years were enrolled in college. Interestingly enough, it does not state racial designations.
In 1961, that same report does indeed categorize by race: 39% of whites and 30% of blacks in that same age group were enrolled in college. That doesn’t seem like much of a difference…especially considering there were 11,538,000 white kids, aged 18-19, and 630,000 black kids included in the census. So, to simplify, there is a 95% difference in population of this age group, but only a 9% difference in college attendance.
By 1983, in the thick of Affirmative Action, these reports indicate that 51% of white kids, aged 18-19, and 46% of black kids, are attending college. The gap has narrowed even more – and these “kids” are, today, in their 40s and at the peak of their chosen careers. One could suggest that it took 20 years to narrow the so-called gap, but look closely – whites increased attendance by just 12%, and blacks by 16%.
Are these the ones who are crying foul? I think not. In fact, I think that, much like the uproar over keeping God in government in any way, shape, or form, that we are once again pandering to the minority. They who complain the loudest and the longest become the voices which are heard – and much like a toddler having a temper tantrum, the parental government gives in…with disastrous results: more generations of entitlement and whining, instead of hard work and dedication.
My ancestors believed that a handout was NOT a hand up – they believed that a person makes of himself what HE will, not what someone else makes him. They fought, and struggled, and persevered – and would have laughed at anyone who made an “exception” for them, on a test or in any other matter.
Which brings us to the present: a hue and a cry was raised because a group of men did well on an exam; another group didn’t fare as well. I venture to guess that perhaps the older ones in both groups scored lower than younger ones; perhaps those of more limited incomes scored higher or lower as well. Someone decided that the data should be tabulated to include race – EVEN THOUGH WE’RE ALL SUPPOSED TO TURN A BLIND EYE TO THAT and, indeed, we apparently did until about 1961.
Fast-forward to 2009 or, rather, 2007, since that’s the most recent comparable data: nearly 73% of 18-19-year-olds are enrolled in school. And there’s no designation of race.
So if race is irrelevant, and it should be, why do we – collectively speaking – continue to make it an issue?