Black groups grow from white racism

September 29, 1996|By GREGORY KANE

Here come these questions again: the ones that make me consider, even briefly, slashing my wrists. Or at the very least drinking enough booze until I find myself lying face down in a drunken stupor at a neighborhood bar.

But I don't drink, so I have to suffer through questions like these. Serves me right for being a teetotaler.

The questions come from an anonymous letter writer, postmarked Sept. 23 from an Eastern Shore ZIP code.

"I will sound like a racist but I really don't think I am," the writer cautioned. We shall see, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. We shall see.

"Do blacks really want a colorblind society and how far would whites get if they formed groups such as the following:

National Black Republican Council

Council of 100

United Negro College Fund

Black NCAA Coaches Association

Miss Black America Contest

The Black Congressional Caucus

Black Mayors Conference

National Black Nurses Association

National Black Police Association

National Association of Black Journalists

National Medical Association -- a black physicians' group (Mr. or Ms. Anonymous really thought I didn't know this)

National Association of Black Accountants

Scholarships established specifically for blacks by black athletes. Would a white doing this be called racist.

And on and on."

I would have thought the answer to this question was obvious. I couldn't have been more wrong. But since Mr. or Ms. Anonymous isn't the first to ask it, I'll give the obvious answer: sheer numbers.

That's why these organizations exist. When there are enough black nurses, doctors, accountants, mayors, congressmen, journalists and police officers that folks will automatically think black when they hear these terms, then perhaps these organizations will no longer exist. But I contend that racism is still so thoroughly ingrained in America that if folks just hear the term doctor, nurse, lawyer, etc. attached to a proper name, they're going to assume that person is white.

OK, let me put it another way. If you read about a neurosurgeon who performs a successful operation separating Siamese twins at Johns Hopkins Hospital, you'd assume he was white. (Actually, he was very black and very real: Dr. Benjamin S. Carson in September of 1987.) But if you heard a news story about a mugger, you'd assume he was black.

Even the nonracist Mr. or Ms. Anonymous was guilty of this. In a story about three people assaulting a pool hall owner in Easton, the letter writer asked, "Why do so many blacks act like animals?" Mind you, the story didn't identify the attackers by race. Might I suggest that so many black organizations exist because all too many black police officers, journalists, nurses, etc. find themselves working for folks who think like Mr. or Ms. Anonymous? Indeed, many of the organizations mentioned started as a result of some very overt white racism.

"There are no all black communities where a white is safe after dark," the racially tolerant Mr. or Ms. Anonymous claims. But indeed there are. I've seen whites in my neighborhood and several other all-black neighborhoods. They're usually buying the drugs that Mr. or Ms. Anonymous no doubt feel are exclusively used by blacks.

But Mr. or Ms. nonracist Anonymous did, indeed, have some good questions. They deserve answering.

Why does the NAACP not get involved in countries in Africa other than South Africa? Where is Jesse (Jackson) and others when thousands of blacks are being massacred by other blacks?

The NAACP has recently tackled the issue of slavery in the Sudan. Jesse "I'll Walk a Mile for a Camera" Jackson wouldn't be caught dead in Sudan or Rwanda.

Should not girls (white or black) who have children out of wedlock have to identify the father for support payments before they can be eligible for welfare?

Of course.

Why does the NAACP have to go to the white community for support? Why is the organization in debt when black athletes and black professionals are making millions a year?

Mr. or Ms. Anonymous asks the very questions many blacks have been asking for a while. Black NBA stars have been making exorbitant salaries for some time now. They, single-handedly, could have gotten the NAACP out of debt. In fact, they owe a debt to the NAACP, the organization which hounded, clamored and fought for decades to have baseball, football and basketball owners include blacks in professional sports.

But the irony is that if they did that, folks like Mr. or Ms. Anonymous would simply accuse them of being racist. It kind of leaves black folks in a no-win situation: accused of racism when we start organizations to help ourselves and accused of begging when we ask whites to help us.

Gregory P. Kane's column appears on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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