Affirmative Action- A recycled editorial

(Written in about 2006. It seems appropriate at this time to reiterate it. Then I will continue with Medical School)

Affirmative Action 

Affirmative action is a well-intentioned attempt to afford minority students an equal footing at higher educational levels, such as entry into college and graduate schools.

It is an extension of the concept that under the U.S. Constitution all men are created equal.

What the Constitution really means, however, is that all men are created with an equal opportunity under the law. However, it does not imply in any way that all men have the same I.Q. or any other equality of mental or physical skill for that matter; and it certainly does not at all imply that anyone should be forced to make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

If there is a real disadvantage for minority students, it more likely resides with the poor infrastructure afforded to them in impoverished neighborhoods that harbor less than adequate elementary school systems.

It is also somewhat cultural in nature because the vicious cycles that fold and refold upon themselves like a double stranded DNA helix are created by failures in educational systems, excessive school dropout rates, unemployment, unwanted pregnancies, single parent homes, and the inability or disinterest by the government in cleaning drug dealers and street gangs pout of the ghettos.

Fixing this infrastructure is one of the greatest failures of America’s governments at all levels, being little helped by self-serving civil rights or minority leaders who non-constructively promote or abet racial tensions and reverse bigotry.

A clear example of this failure was Tufts Medical School acceptance of the unfortunate black woman who simply could not cut the mustard because she was passed along without proper merit; being made even more pathetic because it wasn’t even her own fault. Expecting to become a physician, she ended instead as being nothing but a political pawn.

Another example of lowering the bar occurred when the NCAA was pushed by the likes of John Thompson Sr., the basketball coach at Georgetown, to enact Article 16.

This policy would have allowed athletes to enter college with less than par SAT scores and to stay in school with les than par GPAs.

Thompson justified his position by stating that a shot at making it to the professional level in sports was the only chance in life that some of these young black men would ever have. Some chance. The odds are limited to about 1.5% of all college athletes getting to the Pros.

It seems strange to me then, that in a predominantly white college, Mr. Thompson, in exercising the principle of Reverse Bigotry, never seemed to be able to find any poor white kids to play on his all black teams.

This is also not to mention the fact that for any high school basketball player making it to the pros has success odds of only about one in a million, thus making college basketball nothing more than a cattle-call of false hopes.

It might be far better to focus on education, graduation, and successful pursuit of secondary level credentials to ensure success in life after high school or college.

And for those minority leaders who perpetually tout equal opportunity or affirmative action for their own constituents, how do they explain the fact that the NBA and NFL are respectively 74% and 69% black in a society that is 82% white and 13% black? I do not hear too many complaints on this issue.

Perhaps it is simply something to do with skill, talent, the fact that “white men just can’t jump,” and that black men are  a hell of a lot better at playing this particular game.

After all, how much fun would it be to watch a boatload of spastic white NBA players, selected by affirmative action criteria who all had skill levels sub-par for the professional leagues? No one would buy the tickets.

But the parallel non-theoretical fact of false parity is not at all enjoyed by corporations or small businesses that are required to hire sub-par employees of any race only because Congress tells them they must.

Allan Bakke took this bull by the horns when The University of California-Davis Medical School turned him down in 1973.

Out of 100 potential slots, 16 had been reserved for those students who checked a box on the application designating them as being “economically and/or educationally disadvantaged.” These applicants were not required to meet the required 2.5 GPA score or the benchmarks required of the rest of the applicants.

They also underwent a separate interview process than everyone else.

Bakke, who was white, checked that same box because he did conform to the other underprivileged student profiles, which then categorized him among those who were ultimately accepted to the “special minority slot interviews.” However, at the end of the process he was finally denied a position in one of the last four remaining “disadvantaged” slots.

He sued and eventually won admission to the school claiming that the special standards were not meant for underprivileged students as a general category, but were instead used only as a disguise to fill racial or ethnic quotas.

The California Supreme Court ruled in his favor citing that the school had discriminated against him based on his race, thus violating his civil rights under law, and in a decision, that being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, had the additional opinion tacked onto the ruling that race could be used as only one criterion for school admission.

Liberal activist groups went berserk over this judgment because for some strange reason they sincerely believed that there was no such thing as a disadvantaged white person in America, or that a white person has never suffered the slings and arrows of being discriminated against.

I guess these people have never heard of Appalachia or the slang terminologies often applied to those “dumb toothless hillbillies, sand-hillers, crackers, white trash, mud eaters or mudsills.”

It is always amusinly entertaining when some white person is smart enough to apply anti-discrimination laws to his own situation more universally, and to then watch the hypocritical liberal outrage when he or she successfully uses one of these stupidly contrived legislated mandates that were originally intended only for biased unilateral use.

In addition, when Congress passes this type of legislature they always exempt themselves from the same rules. Ergo and although he has no qualms against signing on to a bill that forces you or me to do so, you will never see the likes of a Ted Kennedy going out to round up a few functional illiterates to be his staffers or secretaries. He prefers rather, naïve intelligent young white chicks that he can fuck and then drown.

The essential point is that second rate separate standards should not have to be accepted nor be forced on any segment of the society.

An extension of this concept is that all too often America accepts mediocrity in its work force or even worse, too often pathetically has too little talent to pull from its job pools. Having nothing whatsoever to do with race; it occasionally then becomes the case that in filling job slots, the hiring philosophy becomes “a warm body is better than no body at all.”

This is the equivalent of being hired under false credentials, which then becomes a veritable nightmare to undo, especially at the Union level, when substandard job performance becomes the order of the day and incompetence must be perfectly documented before someone can be fired.

  • I’m sorry, but you are incompetent and illiterate and you are fired.
  • Oh yeth? Then pwove it.

Personally, I am also sick of people resorting to pulling out the “race card,” then using it to trump any unpleasant personal interaction, failed job interview, firing, or personal screw-up, when the individual in question really has himself to blame for his or her personal failures or social ineptitudes.

Reverse bigotry is understandable only from the point of view that it is bred out of the culmination of decades or centuries old frustration by truly qualified minorities in this country who have tried, yet have been denied entry to the mainstream. Although one cannot really blame a person for going ahead and biting the hand that never fed him; this does nothing to promote racial integration. The result is increasing racial tensions or hatred that only makes two wrongs out of no rights.

Then there is Rap music, the anthem of reverse bigotry, which pushes the venom deeper into levels of a subculture that takes it literally to be a validation for killing white police officers, using drugs, pimping, prostitution, murder, and gang banging.

This is not the educational message that should be broadcast in the ghettos.

I have a black friend who has devoted his life to promoting education and to rescuing lost or disadvantaged minority children in our community.

The message he preaches is one of brotherly love combined with the absolute necessity that the children he sponsors become educated and literate.  Ironically, he has received serious criticism from members of the local black community who deride his message that Ebonics and street lingo should be abandoned and that dress codes should conform to mainstream middle class standards.He eschews pants that show a person’s navel or ass-crack, or pants with the ass seam down to the ankles that makes its attendant leg mechanics a forced shuffling gait like that of a shackled prisoner on a road gang.

He tells his wards that only by conforming will they be able to successfully pass interviews and climb the job and corporate ladders.

Local community minority leaders accused him of destroying “Black Culture.” But by subscribing to this shortsighted position, they do not appreciate the real benefit of his hard-line message: When in Rome not only should one behave as a Roman; but one should dress, act and speak like one too.

Unfortunately, Black culture in America is one of forced involuntary emigration from Africa, in most cases with the expulsion being assisted by other bigoted black African “brothers” who captured and sold them. This was followed by slave shackles, lost opportunities, closed doors, segregation, bias, bigotry, hatred, substandard education and poverty.

Touting Black achievement is one thing, but trying to make something real out of a culture that comes from those roots is an impossible task because the culture was irreversibly lost or beaten out of these people on the plantations. Many liberated slaves even refused offers to be transported back to Africa after the end of the Civil War. Who can blame them for not wanting a repeat experience?

It therefore becomes counter intuitive for black leaders to tell their people that they should purposefully flaunt their differences, which only becomes as wholly counterproductive as my father and his friends trying to become Italians again.

So, your great-great-grandfather was a plantation slave or your father was a Nazi concentration camp survivor. So what? You weren’t. He was the one who had to survive. Not you.

Also, if he had not survived the ordeal, you may not even be here now to complain about it.

Get over it and stop wearing it like a badge that entitles you to perpetually whine about it or throw it in everyone else’s face; because nobody really cares anymore.

My father used to say that he just “could not understand” why Black people did not achieve the same success that his Italian immigrant father had. I tried to point out to him that his father had not been dragged to America in chains; entirely against his will, then been put into bondage, beaten, worked to death for no wages and left as an uneducated illiterate to wallow in a small mud hut out behind the ‘Big House’ for about two or three hundred years.

He still does not get it.

The history of the black man in America truly is a disgraceful story that should shame this country. Although it is a history that should not be forgotten, at the same time it should only serve as an example of how not to treat any race.

Good race relations can only come about by all Americans highlighting their mutual similarities, putting aside the past, moving forward with a positive view to the future while at the same time putting an end to purposefully fomenting hatred.

The same thing applies to disenfranchised blacks as to pathetically maudlin Italians who lament about the old country. If you do not like it here and you think it is so fabulously great over there, just do everyone a big favor and go back, whether it is to Italy or to Africa. There are plenty of other third world citizens who would be more than happy to take your place back here in America.

Black leaders, especially those who for the most part gain their societal credibility by calling themselves “Reverends;” and remain in power because hatred fuels their support, should be shunned and not given the political platforms that allow them to spew their venom.

The trumped-up rape charges in the Twana Brawley incident is but one small, sorry example of how to hysterically foment racial hatred, when after the fact, the truth was that the girl made the entire thing up.

Al Sharpton should have gone to prison for his role in that mess.

Also, let us not forget how the fact that Rodney King was PCP high, psychotically out of control, inebriated  as well as being a menace to society before he was forcibly subdued, seemed to have gone by the boards. Anyone who went on the kind of rampage he did, which was conveniently edited from the story line or the video clips, should be subdued by any means necessary.

No, let us rather let hysteria and partial truths rein supreme.

Hiding behind the Bible or a pulpit is no excuse for condoning poor behavior or for using the name of God to justify phony sacrosanct positions while simultaneously sneaking around behind the scenes ripping off your own brothers both emotionally as well as financially.

Conversely, Whites who continue to think of any minority group as being inferior should be made social pariahs, just like most Americans who have turned their backs on the illustrious, formerly venerated Ku Klux Klan.

It is time for all people in this society to join hands in a concerted effort to raise educational bars and standards, to open doors of opportunity for all, and to base decisions about academic admission, job hiring or job promotion entirely on merit and achievement.

It is also time for all forms of bigotry, including reverse bigotry to be eradicated because in an endless positive feedback loop, bigotry in any form can only beget more hatred and more bigotry.

If it is also true, as postulated by Sean Hannity, that a nation is defined by its language, its borders and its culture; then it is also time for the American people to realize, at least for the time being, that the language of America is English, not Spanish or Ebonics, that its borders should be preserved and that like it or not, its culture is pretty much defined by the middle class mores that are rooted in a 400 year old conservative Pilgrim legacy.

Our local high school has a sign out front that reads:

The Southampton High School: Where everybody is somebody.

This is a sad commentary, not only on our educational system, but also on the parents of contemporary grade school student’s lack of ability to foster self-esteem in their children in the first place. It reflects an educational system where every kid in the class is mandated to receive an achievement award:

  • Last, but not least, the 2009 Best of the Worst Students Award goes to……. Harold Jones.
  • Hey. What about my kid: Second Best of the Worst?
  • Or mine. Last of the Worst. Don’t he get no prize too?

The sign would be better served to state:

The Southampton High School: Where America is proudly educated.



While one who sings with his tongue on fire

Gargles in the rat race choir

Bent out of shape from society’s pliers

Cares not to come up any higher

But rather get you down in the hole

That he’s in

(It’s Alright, Ma: Bob Dylan)

Race Relations (1960s….. and on)

Black Humor 

I first met Stanley at High School wrestling practice. He was in the 118-pound weight class, having filled in for me when I moved up to the 128-pound division. Stanley was black, as was another team member, Albert, while one of the better wrestlers on the squad was a white kid named Billy. Because of our common bond on the wrestling team, we ate lunch together every day, along with another black kid named Donald. Unfortunately, having lunch together never became an exercise in boosting team spirit, because for the most part we had already accepted ourselves as mediocre athletes.

The school system itself was rated class ‘C’ in New York State, a designation that relegated all of us as being nothing more than small fish in a large pond. But we did share the additional common bond of being straight ‘A’ students and thus additionally lumped together in the “Advanced Classes.” It was a time in American history when brains were still more highly regarded than brawns.

Stanley gave me a moniker, based on the fact of my temporary summer sojourns to the Hamptons. He perpetually referred to me as “Rich Al”, while I referred to him as “Stan the Man.” Either way the nicknames were infinitely better than “Four Eyes” for me, and who knows what else for him.

The concept of racial segregation in the New York public school system was nonexistent, accounting for why I had so much trouble with it when I visited my relatives in the South. There was no “back of the bus” in New York.

Actually in those days we referred to “people of color” as Negroes, because it was not until the Civil Rights movement of the concurrent coming decade that the black people of this country re-labeled themselves as either being “Black” or as “Afro-Americans.” Although it was still true that the slang term “nigger” would occasionally be heard, it was also true that I would also occasionally hear the term “wop” or “dego.” I guess the big difference was that I never took verbal racial slang seriously or personally. Also nobody was being lynched, and the only known local discriminatory murders were relegated to the shocking yet entertaining mafia mob hits that made front-page news in the big city New York newspapers; degos killing degos so to speak.

My roommate in medical school, who was Jewish tried to explain it to me in the context that slang terminology should be reserved only for the worst elements of a particular minority group, such as Kike, Frog, Limey, Mick, Wop, Dego, Wetback, Spic, and Nigger, while proudly pointing out that he personally had too much class to ever be called a “Kike” himself. He said that it was the Kikes who gave the rest of the Jewish people a bad name. This was a concept I could easily embrace because not only did I never think of myself as being a “Wop” but also as I went through life certainly came to know plenty of Aryan protestant white supremacist morons and their toothless “Trailer Park Trash” cousins.

Thus coming from a background where schools had already been integrated, but unlike my bigoted southern relatives, I never thought of my black friends as being different from myself. We had common bonds, we liked each other and we had fun together. The black boys did not attempt to segregate themselves in any way or to draw attention to any potential differences between themselves and anyone else. We simply did not think about skin color. In fact there were times in high school that I wish my black body guard Vernon had been able to come along to protect me from a few of the local, relatively oafish white goon athletic jocks who seemed to have the same distain for students with brains that was shared by our ever endearing gym coach.

None of my black friends spoke with the patois that later came to be known as “Ebonics.” They all eventually went to college and as far as I know they all went on to have very successful careers. Their parents were upwardly mobile people who had ingrained in their children a sense that success was measured by fully integrating themselves into a predominantly white culture via the path of higher education. How strange and yet how very similar this credo was to the ethics imparted to his children by my Italian grandfather. “It’s America. Speak English.”

Many years later when I was in medical practice, I frequently played tennis with a Black community activist who spent a great deal of time with local underprivileged Black children. He actually ran a cultural center that specifically catered to their needs. However, he got himself into considerable trouble when he tried to make these children understand that successful integration into society was also predicated on playing by the rules of that society.

For example, he would tell them that they would get no where fast if they went to job interviews wearing: baggy shorts with the ass seams hanging halfway down to the cuffs revealing their butt cracks, low rider jeans with chubby bellies and navel rings spilling out the front, idiotic or intimidating logo tee shirts, high top sneakers, nose rings, multiple earrings, or shoes adorned with sparkling twinkle lights. He also explained to them that the better their elocution and the better they physically presented themselves, the better the chance of getting ahead in the job or salary market. But generally speaking this is the case for all of us and unfortunately now applies to a new sub-segment of  tattooed, body-pierced functionally illiterate multi-racial teenage population in general; “Like, you know, right?”

Local black political groups severely criticized him for his efforts describing it as an attempt to undermine “Black culture” and “Black history” while simultaneously accusing him of making a flagrant attempt to ruin the cultural roots of their children. This is the same insanity that prevails in the Sons of Italy organization when they keep trying to become Italians again.

What’s the point? This is America and as long as any group of Americans separates itself, then highlights or harps on its unique differences, the very visual imagery of smelting, which evokes perfect integrated admixing, becomes lost in a country that had for centuries touted itself as being the world’s melting pot. It is recidivistic logic.

Although Afro-Americans should certainly retain pride in their ancestral roots and to the sorry point that they are the only minority group who did not voluntarily come to America, they should also realize that to a great extent as a result of tribal warfare, it was their own African brothers who sold them into bondage in the first place. Also, by the same token there is nothing that would prohibit anyone, be he White, Black, Yellow or Green, from emigrating and returning to any supposed country of lovable origin. If anyone feels as though America is such a horrible place to live; there is nothing preventing them or any other person at any time from packing a bag, getting out and going “home” again.

It was not until I understood politics a little better that I came to realize politicians in general derive power bases specifically by polarizing constituents. The problem then, not only with Black Leadership in the United States, but with any group purposefully promulgating racial, cultural or ideological differences, is that the sub-rosa agenda is solely to retain the power derived by what should really be referred to as “reverse bigotry.” Unfortunately, in this country, the next “minority” group standing in line is the ever-growing Hispanic population; that will only create yet another set of pre-conditions for more intense minority racial unrest.

Minority group leaders instead should be encouraging their constituents to do everything they can to learn the common vernacular and to play by the rules subscribed to by polite civilized society.

In honest truth, as they fly around the country in private jets clothed in three thousand dollar suits; lashing out on their on their pulpits; it is the sad fact that after over four decades of preaching hateful diatribe and rhetoric, I have not seen the likes of a Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or (now) Barack Obama constructively improve the plights of their own people. They know that the key to improving the financial bottom line of the inflammatory power broker is by keeping their constituents poor, ignorant, barefoot, pregnant, living in slums or shanties; then by perpetually stirring them to be angered by the political ploy of blame shifting. Most of these venal rabble-rousers would sell their souls to maintain a lifestyle their constituents could never even remotely hope to achieve.

Instead of constantly harping on what makes us all different from one another by ladling out pointed imprecations we should be cultivating more of what we all have in common. We should take all the positive elements each culture has to offer, and then integrate them so tightly into the structure of our society, that no one could ever actually remember their origins.

Worse yet reverse bigotry is also played out every day in the world’s political theaters, is disgracefully counterproductive, and by constantly sowing the seeds of dissent only succeeds in fomenting or perpetuating wars. Thus, as long as pre-existing hatred can be cultured or artificially manufactured where none already exists, and as long as it is predicated on perceived critical physical, social, cultural or religious differences, there will always be leaders who derive a power base by fully exploiting the ‘Principle of the Scapegoat.’ Adolf Hitler used this tool to the extreme.

On the positive side, one indigenous gift that my Black friends owned and then shared with me was a unique style of humor predicated on the ability of a person to be able to laugh at oneself; or more importantly to always wear a laugh on a shirtsleeve. My less than desirable personality traits of being shy, humorless, tight-assed, and stiff-lipped were entirely changed by my lunchtime friends.

They tirelessly poked fun at me until I learned to undo the psychological damage of my brother’s malicious teasing, and then translated that teasing to more subliminal levels. This opened a world of laughter by teaching me for the first time the counter productivity of taking oneself too seriously.

I eventually graduated the social scene with honors when I capitulated to the soul-soothing phenomenon known as the belly chuckle along with a final understanding that double entendre escalating interpersonal banter is so completely harmless, that if left to itself can reach the pinnacle of sidesplitting laughter.

On the macro level the television situation comedy show, Amos and Andy, was a prime example of black humor, or just plain humor at its best. To this day I cannot understand why American Black leadership, deeming it to be a degrading portrayal of black people, had it perpetually banned from the airwaves. I never thought of it as degrading but simply a series of funny scenarios about the general human condition, the ever diminishing rewards that come from deceit or investing excessively wasted time in schemes and dreams to “get rich quick.” Were the lovable characters of the King Fish and Andy any more racially degrading than the character portrayals of the doltish Lou Abbott, the idiotic Three Stooges, the perpetually angry obese blue-collar bus driver Ralph Kramden or the moronic half witted pseudo-palsied Jerry Lewis?

These friends also went a long way to advance my retarded socialization process as they repeatedly pointed out that I would never get a date or ever get a girlfriend by simply standing around the high school canteen hoping against hope that some girl would come up and ask me to dance. They constantly explained that nothing was ever really going to happen unless I made it happen first or became more of a protagonist. In so doing they became the first ones who taught me how to approach members of the opposite sex without excessively shy fear.

In having a more realistic and down to earth approach to sexuality than the rigid brainwashing doctrine of the Catholic Church, they gave me pointers on “the how to try to feel a girl’s tits by sneaking the arm around under the blouse in the RKO movie theater while she was distracted by eating her popcorn maneuver,” or by explaining to me what it might really take to turn a woman on and to have her actually enjoy it. Their approach and counsel was infinitely more palatable than the tenet that procreation was a divine mystery intended to be devoid of pleasure, that women do not really enjoy sex, and that the act itself for both genders should be an obligation primarily performed to keep the Catholic Church in business by: “Making an army for Christ.”

This coaching was “all the things you really wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask your father, your mother or your local parish Priest.” Or perhaps it was more like what these mentors were really afraid to tell you. But the black kids finally corrected once and for all any gross misconceptions that my old friend Eddy had conveyed about his own perverted version or interpretation of the so-called “facks-a life.” No, the idea is not to stick your penis into a woman’s ass and then piss in it.

Come to think of it, I do not believe my father ever really did tell me about those facts or even remotely approached anything about them in explicit detail. Or if he did, it was with a half embarrassed preamble that would begin as: “You know you are getting to the age where you are becoming a man….;” which would then progress through a series of oblique, intangible or non-biological vagaries becoming just about as good as the version one gets at the age of five when a child asks his father where babies come from.

  • Well son, when a man and woman really love each other, the man plants a seed inside of the woman.
  • Oh, now I get it dad. The man eats a cherry and then spits the pit down her throat.
  • Not quite son. It’s more like how they do it on a farm.
  • So it’s like plowing a furrow and planting a field?
  • Not quite. Anyway; you’ll figure it out or maybe your mother can tell you.

However as I grew up and learned the truth more or less on my own, somehow I could never bring myself to refer to my penis as “The Little Tractor” or “My Seed Hod.”

Then of course there was my mother’s allegorical version of planting the seed on a farm. When I finally did get to the stage in my senior year of seriously wanting to date someone, it was simply stated and tersely boiled down to this dire caveat:

  • Just don’t get anyone pregnant. If you do, you’ll have to marry her, move out and get a job; because your father and I certainly won’t support you and some loose legged whore who ruts around like a barnyard pig and then has your bastard kid.

Tell me quick, before I faint.

Is you my friend.

Or is you ain’t?

(My lunch buddy, Stanley)