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Mobilization 2/21
Writers Group- Roxanna, Friday Alexander, Jack Crawford, Aunt Dot, Alexander Hillian, Andrew Jackson Brown, Sanford Jackson, Mallard Merriman, John Shavers, John Wesley and Runoko Rashidi

Angry White Males and Affrimative Action

A Plea for a Look at Reality, Not Hype

By John Wesley

There is nothing more confirming than taking a good look at a complex issue from someone elseís point of view. Two days ago. I saw the new movie Disclosure and I experienced how a very well qualified middle/upper management person feels given the threat of being replaced in a business that he or she built over a long period of time to be left jobless, mid-forties plus in a very tough job environment. There is no way anyone could feel good about that. The operative feelings are emptiness, betrayal and anger along with a huge dose of fear for the future. To make it relevant to the point I wish to make, I will further add another dimension to this scenario: while this is going on, you perceive that less qualified people are being given opportunities. Now, a dangerously angry person has been created who joins the ranks of the formerly-high-on-the-hog unemployed. A new member of those who politely call themselves "consultants" at social occasions.

I personally relate to this because I am also a victim. However, in my case, I hit the "fiberglass ceiling" in corporate America along with many other African-American MBAs from top business schools all over the country. And yes, I meant to say fiberglass. Glass can be shattered, fiberglass is bulletproof. Some of you will find my statement incredible, since so many American corporations claim to be participating in affirmative action programs. Well take a look at black employment trends over the 1986-91 period (Wall Street Journal September 14, 1993). Almost all the major companies surveyed showed declines in black employment at rates between 15-40%, generally two to three times the rates of decline for whites. Even the companies that reported an increase in black employment in that survey should be revisited. In the case of a major bank, its numbers are clouded by the fact that several new banks were opened in the Maryland-Washington, DC area during the period in question. Hundreds of low grade jobs (tellers and clerks) were filled with African-Americans in those majority-black areas. These job increases covered up the tremendous declines in the ranks of racial minority senior officers.

What does this mean? Itís simple. The old adage, "last hired and first fired" is still very much with us. It shouldnít take rocket science to understand this. When things get tough, you protect those who are personally close to you. Friends, buddies and family will come first. This may not be correct but it is standard behavior in American corporate management. And unfortunately for Americaís descendants of slaves, we have not penetrated corporate managements to join the ownership/policy committee class that ultimately decides who stays and who goes. Without the affirmative action concept, the few blacks that have been allowed to join corporate America would most likely have never been given a chance to compete. The facts unfortunately are that left to their own devices, white managers tend to hire and advance people who reflect their own image. That is not necessarily racist. If you have a positive self image, youíll probably find people like yourself more acceptable. That is a natural human tendency.

So the real message in this writing is that affirmative action for white males is very much in operation as it always has been. Whites then ask, quite understandably: "why do we see so many examples of blacks being hired over more qualified whites?" I will respond as follows: "look at the real numbers and the real facts, not the hype."

So who is really at fault for qualified white males having a difficult time finding a job? Why canít many people in general find a job at the levels they left a few years ago? The answer is really quite simple: productivity. Computers eliminated the need for whole departments. Productivity. Asian manual labor is considerably cheaper that American. So while Asian unemployment is high, it is better than it was years ago. Productivity. When our corporate leaders allowed major manufacturing industries like steel, tires and electronics (televisions, radios, etc.) to move to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, we all lost. Those corporate leaders got bigger bonuses for increasing profits by taking advantage of lower cost labor. But we, the middle class, lost.

It would be well worth the time to reconsider who the real source is for the problems of the "disadvantaged" white male. The major media may hype the few isolated cases where some poor hardworking white man is displaced by a presumably less qualified black. Believe me, Iíll find you 50 less qualified whites in their jobs for every case where less qualified black was hired. Any black man you see in a position of any importance is usually several times more qualified than any of his competition. White males are victims of falling into the scapegoat syndrome. Remember, in 1933 the Nazis were considered saviors of the Fatherland while they redirected the public attention against Jews. The assault on affirmative action, welfare and aliens is no different. The true culprits are getting away clean. In fact, many white males idolize the Limbaughs, Gingriches, Grahams and Helms. Time will tell.

The people who are getting really rich and their political mouthpieces and talk show hosts are using every means to convince you that the affirmative-action advantaged blacks and the illegal immigrants are the reasons you canít find a job. Always remember that the politicians and media people are not made wealthy by ordinary citizens. Those who make large political contributions and those who control advertising dollars are those who can afford to do so: the rich.

I call the attention of all disaffected white males to a quote from Roots (the movie) where two Africans who were from traditionally warring tribes were chained together on a slave ship: "Men held together by chains are brothers." I offer the following message to angry white males:

"Well brother, whether you realize it or not, in 99 out of a hundred cases, it is the same system that screwed me that is now screwing you. Donít buy into the hype. The system is just using black people as scapegoats on which you are being directed to vent your anger. If you donít believe me just take a look at the huge bonus pools for the senior corporate executives that remain. Look at corporate profits. Forbes has a list. Read it and youíll see who is benefiting from our downfall."

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