S. Fulwood III. (11, October, 1994). “Black-White Divide Appears to be Widening.” Los Angeles Times.
In our modern society, which places such emphasis on “political correctness” and social equality, recent polls indicate that the gap between races is increasing. Joe Melsha, a middle class white from Iowa, expresses the growing opinion of white middle class America:
I mean, I’m not a racist and I’m not going to go out and shoot anybody, but I don’t think [black Americans] deserve all the special programs that are offered to them. All the special programs [the government has are] for everybody except the white male. I don’t think it’s right that they say you have to have so many blacks or so many women or so many Hispanics working in different factories.
Whites seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of helping others when they feel their own economic futures are uncertain. Blacks doubt that racial and economic equality will ever become a reality. And politicians looking to opinion polls in reference to future election platforms allow the majority opinion to dictate policy.
Whites are uncomfortable with the thought of black Americans enjoying an equal or better standard of living as the result of government programs: “A lot of white people see that one in seven blacks have household income at $50,000 or above and conclude that too many black people are doing well…That’s when white people seem to make the illogical leap. They think everybody is equal and point to those black people doing well and say, therefore, we don’t need to do any more to help any black people,” says Bill Boyd, fellow at Joan Shorenstein Barone Center of the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government [Boyd is studying the relationship between public opinion and social gains of black Americans during the past 40 years].
The Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press conducted a phone survey in which white Americans were asked if equal rights had gone too far:
- 1994. 51% said yes.
- 1992. 42% said yes.
- 1987. 16% said yes.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- How do you define racism? Mr. Melsha says he is not racist-how would you label his viewpoint?
- How do you define affirmative action? Do you see affirmative action as a corporate attempt to redress corporate racism or discrimination?
- Is this a “religious issue” or something to be left to government?
- How can you as an individual oppose racism?
- This article notes that the racial tension in our country is rising again; instead of becoming more unified, racial groups are becoming more segregated.
- This segregation applies not only to black and white, but to Jewish, Asian, and Hispanic Americans as well.
- Since politics often follows public opinion-not fact-there will likely be a conservative swing away from reconciliation and equality; Americans are rebelling against political correctness.
- Black America, as a whole, is in danger of losing its vision of equality, as it becomes harder to believe that things will ever change. This may lead to apathy and/or anger, both of which only lead to division.
- The church has been greatly affected by the shifting mood of society throughout time, and is one of the most self-segregated institutions in our nation; therefore, youth today are being raised largely in a church and society that promotes racism and separation.
Amy Allison Moreau
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