Distortions discredit worthiness of affirmative actionWhy...

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July 13, 1996

Distortions discredit worthiness of affirmative action

Why have women succeeded so well while other minorities have not? The May 28 column (''Women and affirmative action'') by Anita K. Blair, executive vice president and general counsel of the Independent Women's Forum, must be challenged and disputed because her conclusions are centered on several misunderstandings and a lack of information.

These represent postulations and viewpoints about affirmative action based on distortions promulgated by its enemies. One should not define the dimensions of affirmative action based on erroneous interpretations.

Quotas and goals are measuring tools that are intended to demonstrate whether there is any progress and take affirmative action beyond mere rhetoric and non-progressive reports. Numerical counts are a basic part of all endeavors. Basketball, football, baseball -- what is the final score? How many cars are produced by General Motors? The Census Bureau counts how many people are in the population of the United States. How much money do you have? How many people die of cardiac diseases, heart failure? What is the pupil ratio to classroom teachers? How much money does the state spend per pupil in the various jurisdictions?

Affirmative action has always existed, but for white males only. Affirmative action was expanded to reach African Americans. Later, other ethnic groups and females were added. Resistance and rejection tactics were used against females, both white and black.

White males dominated the legal and medical professions as well as the trades. Blacks had to struggle to get into almost every form of work and to receive equitable compensation. African Americans are still under-represented as physicians and registered nurses. Black males were more numerous in medicine and law than black females. This is changing. White males have lessened their resistance to white females. White female advancement would accrue to the financial and social well being of her gender group.

Complete acceptance is still elusive, but significant advances are being made.

There is an increase in white female-owned businesses. White ++ females are beneficiaries of affirmative action.

Prior to set asides, black businesses were confined to blacks and circumscribed by segregation, prejudice and discrimination. Black businesses find it difficult to practice exclusive preferences for African Americans because of the far-reaching dominance of the white male in most work categories. Consequently, white males play a significant part in many minority businesses.

Trained persons are naturally found among those who have dominated a trade or profession. Training may or may not reach the goal of a competent worker. Training is risky and costly. The white male perpetuates dominance by training his progeny for now and the future.

Statistics show that the African-American community produces more female college graduates than male. I assume that Ms. Blair's statistics on female college graduates are accurate. It is a change from the white male dominance. Slavery and segregation show why the dominance of the black female continues. The black hard-working laborer felt that his son, the black male, should work as he did while he sacrificed financially and worked hard to send his girl to college to become a school teacher or obtain a career in other social sciences.

Numerically, there was not a black male dominance to overcome in the numbers of college graduates by black females. There is an appreciable increase in black female physicians and lawyers. Affirmative action is still needed. Anti-discrimination laws in employment have been more successful in government than in private industry. White male goodwill and cooperation beyond resistance is an essential part of any affirmative action success.

Distortions are being used to discredit affirmative action. Legal requirements can begin momentum, but continued progress must be perceived primarily in the best economic and social interest for a diverse citizenry. White America will not continue to progress and prosper without more black participation and the contributions of other minorities.

Sidney Daniels

Baltimore

The writer is pastor emeritus of Emmanuel Christian Community Church.

Hillary wasn't trying to talk to ghosts

Some Republicans and other bashers are trying to make Hillary Clinton look like a spirit-chasing, table-tapping, ghost-hunting kook. The first lady consulted with Jean Houston, Ph.D., a well known personal-growth facilitator.

The process of internal role-playing, which involved historical figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, is not only a legitimate way of gaining psychological insights, it is among the most productive ways.

As a Baltimore-area psychotherapist who has written a professional paper relating to this type of process, I know how valuable it can be. I applaud the first lady. Some of her critics really need this kind of help, if they are not already beyond help.

ilton Rochkind

Baltimore

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