Q- How do you view civil rights in the United States today?
would like to say that things have never been better, and in many areas
that would be true. Opportunities for women, the disabled, the elderly
and those of various ethnic and religious backgrounds have expanded so
that more individuals in each category have access to educational and
career opportunities than ever before.
However, I think we made
a wrong turn along the road towards justice and harmonious race
relations in this country. Everyone is seeing the results now in the
unrest on campuses and the return of so-called hate crimes. Some
predict even greater troubles in the future.
Q-What do you suggest?
A-First, we have to define the problem .
Second, see where we are and how we got here.
Third, determine our real goal.
Fourth, decide how to reach it.
Q-That sounds like a large order for a short discussion.
A-In condensed form:
see our problem as trying to provide equal economic, social and
political opportunities to relatively powerless minorities while not
trampling the so-called rights of the more powerful majority.
we have managed to make all parties concerned feel they have been
unjustly treated at the hands of government. I would say this has
happened because, as a nation we were impatient, proceeded too quickly
and used force.
Q-That defines the problem. Now for a brief look at where we are now, which should reveal the extent of the problem.
look at some statistics: About one percent of the entire population is
made up of about 2.5 million black males age 16 to 25. 647,000 are in
high school and 351,000 are in college according to the 1990 census.
Another million are gainfully employed and 163,000 are in the military.
Statistics show annual wage and salary income for 25-34 year old
black men increased from forty-seven percent to sixty percent of that
of white men between 1940-1960 and from sixty percent to seventy-five
percent between 1960-1980!
Q-But what about all the young black males that want to be working and can't find jobs?
refer you to all the arguments that were brought up to fight the
minimum wage laws. Unfortunately the high unemployment rates among
young and entry level workers---black and white---are proof of the
validity of those argument against a minimum wage.
Q-Has unemployment gotten worse among black males?
1962, almost sixty percent of young black males were employed, but by
1985 this figure had fallen to forty-four percent. But there are
estimates that more than 25 percent of black males in this age group
derive their income from illegal activities---so if you want to figure
in illegal activities, the employment rate has not declined that much.