Making A Difference In An Indifferent World!

Posts tagged ‘Progressive’

Minority Relations, Part 1

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How are we doing in our relations with minorities?  I contend, not as well as we would like to think.

First, let me talk about the black community.  It would be hard to miss the furor about the Trayvon Martin murder.  I won’t even try to go into the details of this “incident”.  It is being extensively covered from many sides.

Trayvon Martin - The murdered African-American youth, in Sanford, Fla.

It can only be hoped that the white community may have been brought back to reality.  It is no secret to the members of the black community that young black men, in particular, are at risk.  In this instance, the risk was of murder, but daily, it also involves arrest and lengthy incarceration for arguably minor offenses.  Recently, on Rt. 50, I passed a vehicle stopped by the side of the road with two sheriff’s deputies rooting through the trunk.  I knew full well what was happening and the high probability that a young black man would shortly be heading to jail.

But even these examples only begin to scratch the surface.  Even in the urgency of the campaign season, we have the opportunity to do things differently.   During the past two campaign seasons, I went into black communities and had great experiences. The looks on the faces of some people were rewarding, when a white man came to their doors, asking for their votes.

But, since then, I felt I needed to adopt a different viewpoint and approach.   Too often, we come to them (the black community) and tell them they need to get out to vote.  Perhaps, this time, instead of telling them what they should do, it might be better to spend a little time and ask them in greater detail how things are, what they are experiencing and what they need.  In short, work for a dialogue from which we might both learn.  It could lead to action steps as well as closer relations.

I will never forget coming to work in Baltimore the morning after the murder of Dr. King.  Because of the strength of our relationships, our bi-racial staff was able to come together and not let the tragedy divide us.  At least, in our little corner of the city.  But the division between our races is deep and has a long history. The work to bring us together must continue.

It seems that every time there is a tragedy, such as occurred with Trayvon Martin, we are in danger of having to start over.  We, in the white community, may have become complacent.  The racial portrayal, and supposed harmony, on television, among other things, has lulled us into this complacency. We often ask, “Haven’t we made gains? How bad can it be?”

Yes, we have made gains, but relations remain strained.  It is essential that we listen to the ‘baying’ of the right-wing mob.  It is clear that racism lives, and that they do not want a black man in the WHITE House.  Yes, it comes down to just that level.  Racism

Listening to the needs of the black community is going to be essential to moving race relations forward.

is back on the streets, alleys and even parlors, where we can see it.  But knowing racism is alive and well is not enough. 

We must continually renew the relationships between progressives and the black community.  And so, now it is time again to go into black communities and create a new dialogue.  Certainly, they have things to say to us that need to be said and that need to be heard.  It is not just about racism; it is about what is going on in their communities, and how their hopes and dreams need support from us.  But first, we must understand what those hopes and dreams are.  Then, we may broach the issue of voting for someone who can be of help.

Robert Reich At The American Dream Conference

This is a summary of the presentation by Robert Reich, speaking at the Rebuild the Dream conference, sponsored by and being held in Washington, D.C., 10/3-10/5. For more LIVESTREAMING, go to:

“Time to Rally” – Robert Reich at the Take Back the American Dream Conference

The crowd was hyped for Robert Reich yesterday as we kicked off the first American Dream summit here in DC.  And he didn’t disappoint. Reich – the former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, public policy professor at UC Berkeley, and acclaimed political economist and commentator – brilliantly weaved together the history of our broken economy with today’s progressive movement.

America is divided between two great forces, says Reich. The progressive force stands for tolerance and equal opportunity, and believes firmly in the interconnectedness of humanity. The regressive force believes in the opposite – intolerance, unequal opportunity, and that we all function on our own, independently. But as bleak as things may seem, “progressive forces always win out over the regressive forces.”

Reich speaks at the Take Back the American Dream conferencePhoto courtesy of HarvardEthics on Flickr

Reich offered a quick overview of where three decades of regressive politics have gotten us. To name a few:

-One of the worst Supreme Court decisions in American history: Citizens United, ruled that corporations are people.

-Currently, 37% of families with young children are living in poverty, the highest percentage we’ve seen since records have been kept.

-Corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash, and the ratio of coroprate profits to wages hasn’t been this high since before the Great Depression.

-The top 1% rakes in 35% of total wealth in the country, the highest rate since the 1920s.

-The conservative right has left Americans feeling demoralized and cynical of our political system.

While the facts may be disheartening, for Reich, they mean the time to instigate change is not only urgent but inevitable.

“Look at the civil rights struggle and the anti-Vietnam struggle, the darkest days of the 1950s with Mccarthyism. Every time this country has really been challenged, every time the regressive forces look like they’re going to win, the progressive forces RALLY. That is the history of the United States.”

Catch this clip of Reich’s speech from MoveOn.

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