Monday, April 14, 2008

Racing around again

For too long, the issue of race has hogged the nation’s social-political agenda and been a continuing source of national angst. Barack Obama correctly observed that race has become a distraction diverting the nation’s attention from the serious issues that affect all Americans. Indeed, race as a divisive issue has reached its expiration date. In spite of the efforts of those groups and individuals who have a vested interest in racing around as if it were still 1964, this issue has become a stale, droning distraction.

Certainly racial prejudice still exists in America as it does in many countries around the world, but here it is dwelled upon with a persistent intensity that surpasses its incidence. While the rest of the world continues to Balkanize along racial, ethnic, and cultural lines, America’s diversity is more multifarious and geographically diffuse. There will be no independent states established here. We all have to get along in this union.
To that effect, America has been characterized as the great melting pot accommodating all the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity that falls into it. America, however, is more like a great stew pot with large chunks of diversity floating around in it. Always stirring up this pot but making sure that the chunks never quite blend together are the self-appointed defenders of diversity—the champions of the “oppressed minorities”.
Politically correct politicians, Civil Rights era relics, and compulsively crusading academicians are always managing to find racism as the source of all socio-economic failures among America’s minority populations. Pouring guilt on the shrinking American majority, this coalition has incited a divisive, accusatory tone in the discussion of race.
For the same reasons that the insane War on Drugs continues, the crazy crusade against racism continues—it provides certain people and institutions with income, position and power. Furthermore, convincing minorities that they are victims of racism provides minorities with a convenient excuse for failure and a justification for demanding continued contrition programs granting preferences and special accommodations.
However, not all minorities are convinced that racism is to blame for their condition in life. Jam Donaldson is a 34-year-old black woman who has founded a Web site,, dedicated to exposing the self-destructive behavior engaged in by elements of the black community. She hopes that by confronting these people with their own dysfunctional behavior they will recognize that they are responsible for their situation in life, and, therefore, can reverse their fortunes by changing their behavior. There are simply too many disadvantaged minorities who have succeeded in America and too many privileged whites who have not to believe that being born white, black, or brown predetermines level of accomplishment. Individual ability and performance can and does overcome congenital circumstances. The racism industry, however, does not like such seditious candor, and for her efforts Donaldson has been condemned as a traitor to her race.
Leaving no rock unturned in the quest to expose racial discrimination, the crusade against racism can reach Quixotic absurdities as evidenced by last week’s report by the University of California San Francisco’s Center for California Health Workforce Studies that found a pronounced disparity between the number of minority physicians in California and the state’s minority populations.
The report noted that one third of the state’s adult population is Latino but only 5% of the state’s physicians are Latino. Black adults, meanwhile, comprise 7% of the state’s population but only 3% of the state’s physicians. The university professor who chairs the Center said that he found it disturbing that in a state where 40% of the population is either Latino or Black, less than 10% of physicians are from those populations. He called this a civil rights issue as well as a public health issue.
Do civil rights now include having a doctor who is of the same race as you? How about a car mechanic, barber, or plumber, do they also need to be racially compatible with the people they serve? When you are sick what matters are the physician’s qualifications and ability to successfully treat you, not the physician’s race or ethnicity. The statistical disparity between minority physicians and minority populations is no more alarming than the disparity between the number of black professional athletes and the black population. Should we be concerned that the number of white professional football players is disproportionately low given the nation’s white population?
Noticing the differences among us is not racism. Most of us just don’t care what color our doctor is or that the best golfer in the world is half black and half Asian, or that maybe the best candidate for president of the country is also half black. We care about behavior, ability, and character.
While the joy of diversity is the vibrancy of variety, the promise and hope of America is still found in the melting pot not the stew pot.

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