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Separate but equal is alive
    Thinking back to a decade or so ago, I recall a conversation which struck me at the time; but was soon forgotten until a recent discussion brought it back to mind. I had been working as a bartender in a restaurant. Our hostess, a college student, was young, intelligent, hardworking and black. She was also very well spoken, well dressed, and quite the proper young lady. Most of our bus and cleaning staff also happened to be black, and one of these young men made the off hand comment to her that "You talk like you white." The girl, whose name I forget (this was a long time ago), was furious. She proceeded to castigate this young man, and spent the rest of the day in a huff. From time to time, she would spit bits of venom, at him. At the time, I could not understand her anger; these days, I understand it only too well.
    This girl, as young as she was, could see clearly, something of which I had not yet been aware. She had made an effort to take advantage of educational opportunities, and to present herself as a proper, and educated young woman. She was now being told that this effort was wasted, and that she was not a properly educated young American woman at all. Instead, the implication was that she was a poser, pretending to be something that she was not, and that she never could be. This was not only a personal insult; but was also an attempt to negate all of her efforts, and to deny her the future that she had chosen for herself. The strong implication here was that she not only talked like she was white; but that she also talked like she was educated, successful, and part of the main stream of American citizenship. The further implication was, that these things were apparently closed to her, because she was black.
    Over one hundred years ago, a slave master would have felt the same way. It was thought, in those days, to be unnatural for a black to rise to the level of his white betters, or to emulate their speech, dress, or mannerisms. A person who did such things would bear watching, and would immediately be disabused of any such pretensions of equality. Black slaves were expected to speak pidgin English, dress plainly, work hard only under strict supervision, keep their heads submissively lowered, and keep their opinions to themselves. They were also forbidden to learn to read. They were not considered to be American citizens, or even people in some cases, and their behavior, and mannerisms were expected to reflect their status. Apparently this attitude still exists today; but now it exists among many black Americans.
    If you are black, apparently you have to be in opposition to the traditional American culture. You also have to speak as if you are a half wit, just off of the plantation, otherwise you are trying to pass for white. You are told that you will never be a real American, and thus will never need to speak the language (English). The foolishness of ebonics was claimed to be an attempt to give this attitude some official recognition. In reality, ebonics was little more than an attempt to acquire grant money from the federal through, so that studies could be financed to line the pockets of certain black studies faculty. Sadly, this seems to be the story of most of the civil rights movement today.
    Then there was the idea of affirmative action, along with other similar programs for preferential treatment. The theory here seemed to be that blacks could not compete fairly with whites, and that they needed extra help to make them equal. The continued existence of these programs is now defended on the grounds that black intelligence and abilities are not always properly reflected in tests, interviews, and evaluations. The idea that I.Q. tests, as well as college exams were biased and need to be changed, because they do not reflect the "different" intelligence in blacks, should have horrified the civil rights leaders. Instead it was embraced, and is a tenet of the American left. So blacks and whites are claimed to have different languages, different kinds of intelligence, and different moral and cultural norms as well. The amazing thing about all of this, is that these claims are being made by liberals, and civil rights leaders, though similar claims are doubtless also being made by white supremacists (though in a completely different context).
    This harkens back to the old racial policy of separate but equal. This policy was designed to try and defuse the racial tensions which were coming to a head in the fifties, while at the same time, not really doing anything about the underlying problems. The theory here was that blacks and whites were so different from each other, that they should exist in totally different circles. It was claimed that there was no stigma attached to this; separate but equal implied that it was as if they were in two different societies. The whole idea was doomed from the start, because it was a lie, and a not very convincing lie at that. The real reasons for separate but equal were political, and had do do more with trying to please racists of both colors, than any sense of trying to do the right thing. Separate but equal did not work in Czechoslovakia, Palestine, ancient Rome, Tudor England, India before the creation of Pakistan, the Soviet Union, or any other place it has been tried. It did not work in America, in the fifties. The idea of cultural diversity is the idea of separate but equal, reborn.
    The black Americans who educate themselves, rise in the world to success, and embrace the civilization and culture of the country in which they live, by definition reject the notion of separate but equal, as well as the socialist anti Americanism of political correctness. Seeing themselves as independent individuals, responsible, and reaping the fruits of their own labors, they need neither the collective identity of the black subculture, nor the dubious control of the so called black leadership. They are their own people. Their success makes them the natural enemies of the far left, which has taken over the civil rights movement. They are thus given no recognition by the so called civil rights leaders. Rosa Parks, who refused to sit at the back of the bus, is hailed as a hero, complete with statues, named streets, and political recognition. Colin Powell, who became the most powerful man in the most powerful army in the world, and then went on to become the most important member of  The Cabinet, receives no recognition at all. Neither does Clarence Thomas, who is a member of the highest court in the land. Nor do so called civil rights leaders give any recognition to the large number of black millionaires, businessmen, and every day workers, who are raising families, and making good lives for themselves as main stream Americans.
    Al Sharpton, Louis Farakhan, and especially Jesse Jackson have become rich and powerful, telling American blacks that they can never succeed, nor should they even try, and that white America is an alien and enemy country. A corollary to this is that blacks will always be in need of people like Jesse Jackson, Louis Farakhan, and Al Sharpton. They seem to be trying to change black America back into a slave nation, this time with black masters rather than white. As in the slave days, we are being told that blacks have a different mentality, language, culture, and morality than that of whites. Every decent successful black man is a mark against this foolishness. Every individual who works hard, and becomes a happy mainstream American, proves these men to be liars, and parasites. On the other hand, every failure, criminal, single mother, gang member, welfare dependent, and illiterate student is another follower, and another living proof of the black failure upon which these so called leaders depend for their support. The prisons, and welfare roles are filled with people who listen to these charlatans; the offices, factories, and laboratories are filled with people who do not.
    If I were black, I am not certain what my attitude might be. Would memory, and the occasional experience make me mad at the world, or would I buckle down and work my way through it? It really is hard to say. I doubt that I would measure up to a Colin Powell; but I can not see myself dropping to the level of a Bobby Seale, or Jesse Jackson either. More likely than not, I would be an ordinary man, trying to make a living, and get by in the world. The problem here, is that, as most adults have learned the hard way, it isn't always so easy to be an ordinary man. More and more pressure is being put on the ordinary man, and less respect is being accorded him. These days it seems that there are many responsibilities and duties laid upon the ordinary working man, and a diminishing number of benefits.
    Take all of the pressures already bearing down on the ordinary working man, or woman, and then add to this the special pressures working against black Americans. There are the poor neighborhoods, the prejudices, the crime, and the epidemic of out of wedlock pregnancies. Add to this, the constant hate mongering of the black leadership and it's liberal white handmaiden, and the attitude that there is nothing to be done about all of this. So imagine the black American who overcomes all of these obstacles, temptations, and invitations to weakness and failure, being told that all of this effort, moral strength, and achievement is nothing more than a masquerade. Suddenly, this young girl's fury, of a decade or so ago, is very understandable. She should have smacked that guy with a frying pan.
    Black anger, in point of fact, is prevalent, though it is a formless, general anger. It expresses itself in high crime rates, a contempt for American culture, and a paranoia about white America. There is also a certain contempt for the members of middle class working black America, and for black success. This explains why Harry Belafonte could make very insulting remarks about Colin Powell being a house slave, owned by George Bush. He could make these remarks, and not be held accountable for them, and could even find much agreement. If there were any real civil rights leaders left, they would have put Belafonte through the wringer for this insulting foolishness. Powell himself laughed the remarks off. As one of the most powerful and influential men in the world, he doesn't need to be overly concerned with the antics of a calypso singer. Actually, Powell got off easy; Belafonte has recently referred to Condalizza Rice as being a tyrant, at a rally, where he and Dick Gregory compared the Bush administration to the Nazis, and equated black conservatism to walking around with swastika emblazoned shirts.
    Let's compare these men, just for a moment, to illustrate just how far the center of the civil rights movement has strayed from the path. Colin Powell is a highly intelligent, well educated man, with graduate studies, and a wealth of experience. He has led men in war, traveled the world, administered and headed one of the largest organizations in the world - the U.S. Army, and been an advisor to presidents. Now let's look at Harry Beleafonte. Here is a man who made his living and his reputation beating on drums and shouting day-o. The fact that the so called black leaders of today, rally around characters like Belafonte, and pay little mind to leaders like Powell, is a clear indication that there is no real civil rights movement in this country any longer. Pretend for a moment that David Duke, head of the KKK had said such a thing about Powell. What do you suppose the reaction of the news media, the black leadership, and the general public would have been? Why is Harry Belafonte any different?
    There is no real civil rights movement any more. Instead there is an anti American movement which seeks to turn black and white against each other. In this, it has been very successful. Perhaps a civil rights movement is no longer required, which would explain it's loss of direction. It would also explain the hostility towards success, from those depend upon the civil rights movement for their livelihoods, prestige, and power. It may be that the time for a movement is over, and that it is now time for individuals, like Colin Powell, and thousands of others who may lack his talent, but share his values, to pursue their dreams to the best of their abilities, and to make their own lives for themselves. The early civil rights movement offered hope, along with the promise of success, and the American dream for everyone. It applauded achievement, and reached out for advancement. These goals have been achieved, by the many black Americans who have risen to success, accomplishment, and even power. For these people, the dream has come true. They are no longer black people, or afro americans; they are people, and Americans. They no longer see themselves as outsiders. But what of those who have failed, stumbled, or not even tried? What about those who think that it is wrong to emulate white American culture, and hopeless to try and achieve?
    Instead of hope, and progress, today's so called civil rights movement offers only anger, and dependence. The lie of separate but equal, has been extended to create the paranoia and constant offense of the equally deceptive idea of cultural diversity. Where separate but equal, sought to turn America into a pair of coexisting worlds, Cultural diversity and the modern civil rights movement, seems bent on turning it into a pair of adversarial armed camps. Rather than settling disagreements, it only nurtures and enflames them, emphasizing differences. From time to time, the poison erupts in civil disturbance, or outright riot. The riots after the Rodney King decision, the threatened riots before the O.J. Simpson verdict, and the widespread looting and rioting after every natural disaster and power outage in the last thirty years, are all outgrowths of the civl rights movement degenerating from a positive forward looking movement, into one of hate and resentment. Most people do not enjoy hatred and anger; we want to be happy. This poisoning of the civil rights movement might be why it has lost so much steam and so much support. No one wants to spend an entire lifetime being angry.
    The problem is, that when blacks riot over such things, they destroy more than just their homes, neighborhoods, and businesses. They destroy their credibility, and much of the credibility of the civil rights movement. Prejudiced whites simply shake their heads, and subtly say I told you so. The rest of the whites pretend that race is not a factor; but move out to the suburbs, don't open businesses or make investments in the black areas, and proceed to put their kids into all white private schools. Many of them begin to agree with the prejudiced group, that there is something not quite right about black America. Though they may say nothing, and may not turn openly prejudiced, they never forget.
    Most whites had a considerable amount of sympathy for what black America was going through in the forties, fifties, and sixties. I can say, judging from conversations, writings, and actions that I see among whites I know, that most if not all of this sympathy is now gone. Though lip service is paid, in using terms like African American, instead of black, and in the many programs and official attitudes which abound, this is not sympathy, nor is it support. This is pandering, and hypocrisy. If black anger is prevalent, then white anger is beginning to rouse itself too.
    America, both black and white, is certifiably insane when it comes to race issues. We will never solve these problems, because we can not make ourselves look at them. Think of a surgeon, who has to look away every time he needs to make an incision. It may be that what really upset the young man who so offended that girl from years ago, was that this was an attractive girl, who was quite obviously out of his league, and he needed to make this her fault, rather than his own. He also needed to make it artificial, so that she was not really out of his league, but was just pretending to be. Finally, he needed to make this something which was not his fault, and something about which he could do nothing. This may be the heart of much of the racial discord in this country. It may be that modern civil rights has been shouting that the races are so intrinsically different, that it is once again considered unnatural for them to act, or even speak in the same manner.
    With such a message being delivered, how can the racial problems in this country ever be solved? Then again, is it in the best interests of the current leadership of the civil rights movement to actually see racial discord disappear? It seems that, in common with the educational establishment, the civil rights movement is assuring itself of a long and prosperous future, by seeing to it that the job they are supposed to be doing will never be finished. The true spirit of civil rights is embodied in people like this girl that I had worked with so long ago, and like the many successful American blacks who have made good lives for themselves. It's past time for the others to either join them, or to get out of their way.