i seem 2 b coming accross more & more posts intimating that blks n general, & the blk male n particular, aren t pulling their weight, socially or economically. that their advancement, or more precisely, lack thereof, is directly related 2 lack of: initiative, determination, insight, dyck control, industriousness, intellectual acumen, or skill development. the suggestion seems 2 b that f they would just stop dwelling n the past, stop all their whinning, roll up their sleaves & get 2 work, everything would b alright. this emminates from the profoundly sagacious school of thought, 'f u would just do better, u would b doing better'. how refreashingly insightful. i present here 2 views which disagree w that premise, from individuals w divergent backgrounds. the 1st is my own & the 2nd, is perhaps the only instance n which i post the views of a european which r not an embarassment 2 thinking individuals. it's been well documented how the odds r stacked against blk males n amerikkka. from the cradle to the grave, it's an uphill fight. blks hv a higher infant mortality rate & r more likely 2 die from childhood diseases than yts. they r more likely 2b born n2 poverty. f they make it to school, they 4 more likely 2b tracked n2 remedial & special education courses based on skin color rather than performance. blk males r more likely 2 drop out of school & hv a better chance of going to jail than to college. reputedly, 1 n 3 blk males n b/t the ages of 20 & 29 r now either n jail, on parole or on probation. f a blk male keeps his nose clean, stays away from drugs & crime, graduates hi school & gets accepted 2 college & graduates w a degree, he is still more likely 2 not get a job. f he does get a job, he will likely earn less than what a yt person is earning n a comparable position. a blk male will likely find it more difficult to get a bank loan, rent an apartment or buy a home. he will likely encounter discrimination n almost every setting. even f he manages to successfully deal w all these obstacles, he will die about 5 yrs sooner than the average yt male. all these things - the legacy of over 3 centuries of oppression suggest that racism & discrimination n amerikkka is still a problem that has not been solved. earlier this yr, i attended a panel discussion, ``black & male n amerikkka,'' n brattleboro, vt., that was sponsored by marlboro college. the panelists were all journalists & former colleagues of moderator rod gander, the former president of marlboro college & a former chief of correspondents at newsweek. williams saw the problem as being the conflict 'b/t the moral philosophy of democracy, that all men r created equal, & the economic philosophy of laissez-faire capitalism, which is exactly opposite. It is the very nature of capitalism to undermine moral philosophy. we also hv 2 recognize that there r forces out there that want to drag down every **** advance that we've made. we've never really gotten past racism. things r essentially the same as before. it's just a little more subtle now.'' the 3 blk men on the panel: sylvester monroe (Los Angeles correspondent 4 time), vern e. smith (atlanta bureau chief 4 newsweek) & john a. williams (author, editor & professor of english & journalism @ rutgers U) - did all have 1 thing n common besides their pigmentation. they all came from working class families & used education as their ticket 2 a better life. all 3 thought that the opportunities they had to improve themselves do not exist today. monroe grew up n the robert taylor homes n chicago's south side, the biggest public housing project n the us. when his family lived there n the 50s & 60s, monroe said that the projects ``were meant 2b a stepping stone 2 something better. it was a working class community w intact 2 parent families that were saving $ 2 move 2 some place better. 'monroe said while times were tough when he grew up their, there was hope that 'a change was coming & that we might catch a break. 'monroe's break came when he was selected r a program that sent blk hi school students to private prep schools. that put him on a track that pulled him out of the chicago gang he ran w & pointed him toward harvard & a career n journalism. 'today, no one is moving out of the taylor homes,'' said monroe. 'all u hv is a place that warehouses poor people. a kid there today would not have as nearly as good a chance as i had to make it. the hope is gone. 'williams was born n jackson, miss., & grew up n the 15th ward n syracuse, ny, during the great depression. 'it was the place where all the immigrants came', he said. the prosperity brought on by ww II allowed the irish, italian & eastern european families to move out of the neighborhood after the war. the combination of yt flight & the construction of interstate 81 eventually destroyed the 15th ward. 'the police b/c more oppressive, the schools deteriorated & the bond b/t the neighborhood & syracuse u (which bordered the 15th ward) was gone' said williams. 'i'm not sure what young blk people can hope 4 there now. 'smith grew up n natchez, miss., n a segregated working class neighborhood. 'n spite of the conventional wisdom, we never saw ourselves as inferior or incapable of advancing,' he said. `i wanted to write since i was 12 & it never occurred 2 me that i couldn't do it. there was no sense of limits. kids now think that it doesn't matter; f u're black & poor, the avenues r shut off 2 u. i think the loss of possibilities has been the greatest loss 4 our youth. 'monroe said when he was growing up, he had drilled n2 him this mantra: education is the black man's salvation. `hope was based on the possibility that things would get better & that education was the key,' he said. `Kids don't c that now & we don't do as good a job making them see that. my mother used 2 give me 2 options: go 2 school or die.'even 4 those that didn't go on to higher education, there were still jobs available to working class blks n the 50s & 60s. `f people hv jobs, people have hope,'' said monroe. `the jobs, esp the unskilled jobs, aren't there anymore. we've made a lot of progress n expanding the blk middle class, but a lot of other folks got left behind. 'smith said that amerikkkans need 2b challenged to end racism. `history has shown that when we r issued a challenge, we'll answer the call,'' he said. `it will b interesting 2 c f anyone comes along to challenge us 2 do the hard things we need 2 do 2 b/c a great nation. change is not going to happen until the larger society is concerned w the issue. either we deal w it as a society or continue to box off n2 our little enclaves.' `we don't hv 2 love e/o or even like e/o,' said monroe. `we just need to understand e/o as people. that's the only way we can get around the stereotypes. -- subject: the truth is rarely pleasant: racism, yt denial, & some thoughts on being "divisive" by tim wise having been a yt man for 32 yrs, i hv learned there r some things yt folks aren't supposed 2 say. 4 ex, we aren't supposed 2 acknowledge that we hv received, & continue 2 receive substantial privileges, simply because of skin color: better job opportunities, greater access to housing, better educational offerings & partial treatment n the justice system. & we aren't supposed 2 acknowledge the massive prejudice n our communities, which leads at least 1/3 of us 2 admit & no doubt many more 2 feel this way but not confess it that we believe blks r less intelligent than we r, less hardworking, & more prone 2 criminality. we aren't supposed 2 challenge other yts about their racism, or the myriad institutional injustices that most of us accept passively, f not actively support. 2 do this, & 2 demand that yts deal honestly w the nation's legacy of racial oppression is 2 invite indignant charges that 1 is being "divisive." this was made clear 2 me after my recent keynote address 2 the st. louis mayor's conference on racial justice & harmony, this past october. though my speech was generally well received, w a standing ovation from at least 800 of the 1200 persons n the audience, there were apparently some n attendance who were not so pleased. these few all of them yt hv been complaining loudly about my divisive rhetoric, which, according to these folks, makes racial harmony more difficult than ever. what had i said, exactly, 2 upset these dear souls? who knows? bitter memos sent around city hall didn't specify, & the gossip columnist 4 the city's daily, the post dispatch, who ran a blip on the "controversy" didn't elaborate either. but i would assume they were upset b/c i said among other things the following, backed up, of course, w statistical support: it is yts who r n denial about the ongoing problem of racism, & this denial is itself a form of racism: a kind of yt supremacy that says, "i know ur reality better than u do;" the biggest barriers 2 racial harmony & racial justice r institutional racism & the existence of systemic yt privilege n all walks of life; diversity & tolerance r not worth fighting 4, unless accompanied by equity & justice: the 1st 2 r ez & meaningless, the latter 2 take work; 2 most people of color these positions 4 not that radical. but apparently there r still some of my people who get mightily offended by being reminded that we hv some work to do both individually & collectively & until we do it, there will b no kumbaya chorus. it's interesting 2 note what upsets yt folks, compared 2 that which doesn't. on the one hand, my words calling 4 an end to yt privilege r seen as divisive, but the privileges themselves r not; demanding an end 2 racism n education, criminal justice, housing & employment is seen as divisive, but the existence of said racism is not. frankly, f the good folks n st. louis, who found my speech so troubling, r upset about "divisiveness," then surely they could manage 2 focus their attention on the following facts, all of which must b more divisive than anything i said, by a magnitude of thousands: housing segregation has been so extreme n st. louis over the yrs, that approximately 75% of all blks n the city live n neighborhoods that r virtually all blk, & disproportionately low income. the same is true, of course, n many urban areas of the us; this hypersegregation has been no accident, but the result of deliberate discrimination by real estate appraisers, landlords, & mortgage lenders. as far back as 1941, underwriters n st. louis were complaining about the "rapidly increasing negro population," leading 2 massive discrimination that was essentially legal 4 the next 27 yrs, & even since, has persisted n more subtle forms. all across amerikkka this was the case: blockbusting, redlining, steering, & outright intimidation intended to prevent people of color from obtaining homes n more prosperous neighborhoods; from 1934-1960, yts moving 2 st. louis area suburbs received 5x more government underwritten fha home loans than folks n the city, who were increasingly people of color. this preferential treatment 4 yts continues 2 hv an effect today, as those homes pass 2 the descendants of the original owners, & b/c accumulated wealth. nationally, over $120 billion n housing equity was underwritten by the fha during this time, and only 2% went to african americans; throughout the metropolitan area, children of color r roughly 3x more likely 2 live n poverty than their yt counterparts, & hv infant mortality rates that r 21/2x higher; figures that remain remarkably consistent most any place u look n the country. but to some it isn't the indicia of oppression that deserve our attention or consternation; rather it is the pointing out of these grim realities; the reminding of ourselves & others just how unequal things really r & y, that gets folks bent out of shape. it's not just a few yts n st. louis who feel this way. no indeed: 2 yrs ago, i was all but banned from omaha, neb by the mayor, who canceled a city sponsored event rather than to allow me to speak at the gathering. later, when the event was rescheduled, it was explained to me that he had been concerned i would "stir up trouble," & inject divisiveness, n2 the city along racial lines, by speaking on the anniversary of a racial lynching that had occurred 80 yrs ago. b4 my eventual speech 2 the omaha human relations commission, i had breakfast w the mayor, who afterward confided n me his love for blk omaha, regaled me w tales of his many blk friends, & made clear that he didn't want me 2b "divisive," the way some of "those sncc people" had been back n the '60's. he didn't actually come to my speech, but f he had, i'm sure he wouldn't hv liked it much: esp the part where i mentioned how divisive i thought his new policing strategy was; 1 about which he had bragged actually, & which involves lowflying helicopters w bright flood lights, swooping down over blk homes throughout north omaha. nice, real nice. then there were the yt students at cal state san marcos, who, n 1997, editorialized n the school's paper against having a day of speeches on racism including a few by urs truly & suggested that the "unity day" events should b more upbeat & positive. we should focus on what "brings us together," they insisted, not that "which keeps us apart." perhaps ethnic food & dancing, 1 suspects, but not those "divisive" subjects like the state's rollback of affirmative action, or attack on immigrants. of course, the editors who penned this commentary neglected to mention the real source of divisiveness surrounding this particular day: namely, the death threats made against a blk professor & myself by racist followers of tom metzger's yt aryan resistance, & the promise to detonate a bomb on campus f the event wasn't canceled. n retrospect, i guess it would hv been less "divisive" f i had just stayed home, the professor resigned her position, & the event planners caved n2 the nazis. but f so, this just indicates how meaningless the term really is, & how irrelevant it should b 2 those working 4 justice. so to those persons of color who hv been fighting the good fight, trying 2 force those n power 2 heed ur calls 4 justice, keep it up. what u r fighting 4 is not divisive. it is that which u r fighting against that is the problem. & remember that by our defensiveness, by our protestations of innocence, by our denials that anything is wrong, my people r signing their confession. they may not b able to handle the truth, but that doesn't make it any less factual. r blk ppl, & the blk male n particular failing, as a group, 2 make adequate use of the bounty spread b4 him? or, do factors beyond his control stigmatize & stimy the bulk of his efforts? whats ur view?