Why are they nervous? Why are they afraid to discuss race?
Fear, and lack of education both answer those questions.
Bob Herbert is well-educated. Herbert has no fear of discussing race issues head-on at The New York Times. Herbert earns a living for describing his view of plights fallen upon black men.
What is meant by "plight" and "racist?" Plight is a situation whereas someone finds it difficult to extract self from the unpleasant. Racist is someone with a belief that one race is superior to another. (Do not be concerned about Herbert for he is in no danger of falling into a plight.)
We obtained an e-mail sent to Herbert after he'd published an Op-Ed titled: "Emerging Catastrophe," which described a group of young men in Chicago:
You are employed-- with a salary far and above that of most whites.
I am not employed, and I am white man with a master's degree and
20 years of corporate management experience.
If you wish to observe a pending catastrophe, visit my apartment.
show you what it is like to stretch a piece of chicken, the only meat
I can afford, for three days. But there is a great difference between
whites and blacks and your article is a fine example.
discuss unemployment, whites do not. Blacks do help each
other, whites do not, and from where I stand there is no difference
between the plights of whites or blacks. The black boys I see in New
York City have cell phones. How the hell can they afford them if they
don't have jobs? I can't afford my electric bill, let alone cell phone,
Nike shoes, or any luxury like aspirin.
I can also back this statement up with hard evidence if you care to
meet and see the documents: If I were black, my former employer
would not have laid me off. At least your race has a stronghold that
whites feared at [deleted company name].
I think of myself as color blind, because in the past I've hired people
based on their skill -- and those skills came in all colors of skin.
When I am hungry however, I no longer care. Hunger breads hate for
all color and gender of job-seeking competitors. Suicide is a
reasonable option too, you dig? No one cares about me, the white
guy, so why should I care about you the black guy?
Just the same, I hope you have a good workday.
The White Guy
According to the e-mail author, Herbert did not respond, although we did verify the e-mail was sent from the reader's computer on 19 July 2004. Perhaps Herbert was threatened by a not-so-rosy-picture from the same white community he casts for keeping blacks away from voting booths or from finding jobs.
Herbert, 60, is a veteran journalist, and an Op-Ed writer at The New York Times, and
There is a fundamental problem in the United States when columnists author stories about the plight of one race without equal time to debate other races -- not discussed therefore it doesn't exist. That is best defined as arrogance.
As intro to Herbert's public appearances, he is described as the first black columnist at The New York Times; and he covers racism, the plight of the poor, and the struggle for equal rights and diversity in the United States.
A: Who cares?
Why is the "first black" part of anyone's introduction? From DNA scientific evidence on humans, it is now hypothesized that blacks were the first; unless one believes in The Bible (yet no scientific evidence exists for whites to make the claim they were first.)
Blacks, as a minor group in the overall U.S. population, are doing well for themselves when you examine statistical progress made in the past 30 years. The positive stories of success miss Herbert's columns.
In 1970 only 54.5 percent of whites graduated from high school, today that rate is 84 percent. For the same time period, blacks have surged from 31.4 percent in 1970 to 72 percent in 2000. That figure is a remarkable, and a spectacular success story. And in fact, black students have extracted themselves from the plight. Rock on boys and girls -- head for 100 percent.
Herbert discusses the drop out rate of blacks. He does not praise the tremendous progress made --only by personal choices of each black student-- to close the gap.
Herbert quoted Dr. Neeta Fogg for a column on education. Fogg compared the 'alarming' failure (for blacks) to complete high school is almost equivalent to economic suicide. Herbert says that young men left out of the education experience at an early age face significant barriers to employment success for the rest of their lives. Shake hands with a cynic.
Herbert does not say who left blacks out of the education experience even though "left out" implies someone did the deed. Maybe it is racist to ask, but when you show a plight has ended, so too does the need for a column topic.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for next eight years reflects increases in both white and black labor pool. (But job creation is not matching projected pool increases which is horrific news for both races.) White male workers will account for approximately 70.5 million, while black males will account for approximately 9.3 million.
During the past 20 years, the number of black males in the workforce has risen from 5.6 to 7.8 million (39 percent increase) while males increased only 16 percent from 54.8 million to 63.4 million in 2000. Will Herbert praise the economic projections of more black men in the workforce? Better still, will Herbert address ways to increase the opportunities for TWG and all men to find future jobs?
-- something Herbert has not said --
the crisis is simply about "men."
"Of Chicagoans who are 20 to 24 years old, more than 26 percent are out of work and out of school. When the statistics are refined to focus on young blacks and Hispanics, they only get worse," writes Herbert.
"An incredible 45 percent of black men in Chicago aged 20 to 24 are out of work and out of school. That is not a condition that should be ignored," writes Herbert.
No, we agree, ignoring the plight is not acceptable; but "of men" in general this plight is equal to both races. Why didn't Herbert write about the men who had succeeded in education an business? What can be the take-away with Herbert's information other than agree, disagree, or disbelieve.... there is no action.
Carefully worded to sidestep that whites do exist in those Chicago statistics, Herbert draws attention to the smaller number of the two. This is not a black-only issue.
Herbert discusses more statistics, based upon the Community Service Society of New York's “A Crisis in Black Male Employment,” which found only 52 percent of black men between the ages of 16 through 64 were employed from 2000 to 2003.
Statistics, being what they are; "samples" go both ways. This writer knows 13 white men between the ages of 16 and 64 at the present time... six are unemployed. The circle of white friends without work matches what, presumably, is a scientific study of black men. Is one more real or of greater concern? Both should be worthy of printed attention at The New York Times, but Herbert will not discuss.
Mostly unanswered questions remain with this thought: Were black voters really kept out of voting booths? Was a white guy standing in front of the polling station with a rifle saying, "Yo, you can't enter," or did some black voters, same too for white voters, simply not follow through on their registration verification process in time for election day?
You will find no argument here that indeed the voting process in the U.S. could be made more efficient. But we said that in 1992, 1996, 2000, and yet again in 2004. Nothing changed.
Did every "rejected" voter own up to his or her responsibility before they went out to vote? Or did they show up knowing that their lack of registration follow-up could feed a sensational Herbert Column Headline: Black Voters "Keep Them Out!"
With voter turnout overall at 6 in 10, many voters of all races and colors did not vote. And yes, specifically there were whites who said they were kept from voting as well -- although that was not permissible to print in The New York Times.
The plight of "men" will not earn equal time while Herbert continues to storyline the plight of black men; but plights of anykind, ultimately have the potential to become a social catastrophy.
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