On my radio show, while I acknowledged that vestiges of racism may remain even 150 years after slavery, I wondered about the fairness of set-asides to the already strapped taxpayers who are forced to pay for it is well as to non-minority businesses who have to compete at such a disadvantage.
I received furious calls from minorities, mainly citing anecdotal evidence that racism is still alive and well in America. For example, one man said, "I was in sales and I had fine rapport with this customer on the phone and then he met me and he wouldn't make the deal." Could that not be because the customer, on seeing the product, didn't like it? Or because he, in the interim, found a better product? Or decided he really didn't need it or found a better use for the money? But the caller could only view it as evidence of America's being racist.
Another caller cited as evidence of racism that his boss told him, "I really like you so I'll be straight with you. A Black man can't get anywhere in advertising." Perhaps that boss was a racist. Or perhaps that boss tried to appear candid to prove he wasn't racist. But in fact: 6% of all managers and professionals in the advertising industry, many thousands of people, are Black. Yes that's an "underrepresentation" but does anyone decry as reverse-racist Blacks' overrepresentation," for example, in professional sports or in government jobs, which today are among the most attractive and employ far more people than does the advertising industry? But the caller insisted this was evidence that America is racist.
A caller cited as an example of racism that Blacks earn less per capita than all other groups. How much of that really is caused by racism? Could a more valid explanation be that fewer Blacks graduate from college? And very few complete majors in high-pay fields such as physics, engineering, and computer science? And might the racial income disparity have less to do with racism than the belief prevalent among many Black teens that studying hard is "acting white?" How about the gangsta rap culture? How about the high black high school dropout rate and crime rate?
A caller pointed out that Blacks are more often denied or charged a higher rate on bank loans. He angrily insisted that was a clear sign of racism. But as Paul Sperry, Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and author of the new book, The Great American Bank Robbery, wrote in a New York Post op-ed,
Yet all the minority callers to my show insisted that set-aside giveaway programs for minorities are necessary because of we're still a racist society. It didn't end there. I returned home to find emails, all from African-Americans, all calling me "ignorant" and "racist." Their reasoning (not to mention their writing) was worse than the callers' and their threats more dispiriting than frightening. For example, Zaid wrote, "It’s safe for you start crying now, for in 50 years or less you will lose the reigns of White Male Over POWERING in this WORLD because of education and multiplication of People of Color. Then you’ll be treated like the today’s minorities- goes around, comes around."
America desperately needs an honest national conversation about race but the way our frightened-to-be-honest schools, colleges, and media portray the issues, I, at least, despite a number of serious attempts (here's one example), have been unable to do my part to start one.