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A Mostly Center-Right Place For Those With Irritable Obama Syndrome and Diversity Fatigue

Thursday Stitch N’ Bitch: Sewing Hope June 4, 2009


In the concluding days of this week, I will focus on my own problematic and troubling accounts of my local political scene. I ask that you bear with me, as my city is dying right before my very eyes and there is nothing I can do about it…except leave. My personal engagements with friends only serve to strengthen my desire to pack up and head west,south, east- anywhere but here. What is especially frustrating for me is my futile attempts to understand why people continuously vote for those who are obviously a part of the problem and not a solution. In Chicago, it has been relatively easy for Democrats to carve out a historical niche themselves. This would not be possible without the large percentage of African Americans in the community.

I have always said that if any city was likely to be the first to produce an African American president, it would be Chicago. For that I am proud. Regardless of how I feel about Barack Obama, I am happy that Chicago gave America its first black president. I am happy that Chicago is being taken seriously by the media, however I am not happy with the headlines. “Seven murders in 24 hours”. This news has weighed heavy on my shoulders. How can I stop this? Can I? I am just one person and I am a conservative at that. Who would ever listen to me about anything? Is it wrong to worry about the state of my race? By being fearful that Obama’s presidency has perhaps made matters worse for blacks, am I being paranoid?

sewing AfricanDespite my concern for the future of African Americans, I am against affirmative action. Now if you are a liberal you would say “Gee Afrocity, isn’t that a tad bit hypocritical ?”

I would answer No. And there is a great article at Town that explains why perhaps better than I can.

Advancing Civil Rights By Overturning Old Laws
by Michael Barone

Two cases likely to be decided this month by the Supreme Court — one of them an appeal in a Connecticut case decided by a panel including Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor — could result in significant changes in our civil rights laws.

One case involves a utility district in Texas that is challenging the Voting Rights Act requirement that any changes in its election procedures receive approval — “preclearance” is the technical term — from the Justice Department. The other involves the city of New Haven’s refusal to promote several white firefighters and one Hispanic after they passed a promotion test but no black firefighters did… The betting among Supreme Court analysts is that a majority of the court will rule for the Texas utility district and the New Haven firefighters. Defenders of the status quo will view this as a dangerous undermining of equal rights. Others — include me on the list — will see it as a step forward for equal rights and for Martin Luther King’s entreaty that Americans be judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. That’s because in both cases, the legal rule the court seems likely to overturn is no longer relevant to life as it is in America today.

What does Mr. Barone mean exactly by that last statement: “That’s because in both cases, the legal rule the court seems likely to overturn is no longer relevant to life as it is in America today”

How could that be?  Blacks are still murdering one another in Chicago. The teenage pregnancy rate among African Americans is the highest in the nation. How could affirmative action not be relevant?  We still need it, after all how would we assure that we as women, blacks, the disabled get hired at all?

Mr. Barone continues:

The New Haven firefighters were denied their promotions because, the city of New Haven claims, it feared that the promotion tests would be challenged under a 1971 Supreme Court decision raising a presumption against tests that have “disparate impact” on blacks and whites. That presumption made empirical sense in 1971, when many employers used any stratagem they could to avoid hiring and promoting blacks. But those days are mostly gone, too. The city of New Haven wants to promote blacks. That’s why it denied the white and Hispanic firefighters the promotions they had earned on a test the city paid thousands of dollars to develop as fair and racially unbiased.

Similarly, most employers these days want to hire and promote blacks, both to prevent bad publicity and to avoid lawsuits — and because the vast majority of Americans today want to be fair. But fairness, as the New Haven case shows, inevitably produces disparate impacts.

Talents and abilities are not distributed evenly among people whom we insist on categorizing as white, black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander. The Supreme Court’s 1971 disparate impact standard, like the Voting Right Act’s 1964 standard for voter turnout, was fashioned at a time when racial discrimination was exceedingly common and was pursued cunningly so as to escape legal detection.

That is not the America we live in today. It is not the America that elected Barack Obama president. Retaining these standards today does not prevent racial discrimination, it promotes it — as the New Haven firefighters can attest.

Amen Mr. Barone. I have tried to say the very same thing myself yet was called names.

Can someone please tell me again HOW CAN I HELP MY RACE?

Is there a way that I can do so without being an enabler? Or should I just walk away–never to look back for fear of turning into a pillar of petrified arugula? In most respects, I would enthusiastically endorse the latter. This is not a happy place for me. These worse years of my life have all happened here. I was homeless and hungry. Every corner I turn there is a ghost of Afrocity’s past. The homeless shelter mother and I stayed in during the summer of 1981 was still standing until several months ago. On my way to a regular business meeting, I had to pass by the building every Thursday. I hated it. I don’t know why. The shelter is one of the oldest in Chicago and it made an important contribution to my life. For some reason, passing it was like walking by a huge spider. I was little again and it was big. We all see many vestiges or signs of our past; some may hurt more than others. I could look up at the window where I sat one day wishing that mother and I had an apartment of our own again.

Historic Picture of Pacific Garden Mission. The homeless shelter that I spent a summer in with my mother in 1980.

Historic Picture of Pacific Garden Mission. The homeless shelter that I spent a summer in with my mother in 1980.

A place where she could fix me a tuna fish salad sandwich and wash my hair in a sink where other mother’s babies were not changed. Making sense of my past is what makes me reject much of liberalism today. I may be a product of it but I will be damned if I need a favor from anyone to get a job. At the shelter, leading Bible study was occasionally taken up by the young children. When it was my turn, I chose to tell the story of Job, the man who lost everything but still had faith in God. I would pretend that I was Job and everything I lost that summer would return to me. It did. My point is that if I have faith in God, I do not need affirmative action to do anything for me. My good comes from him, not a white man or the supreme court and certainly not Barack Obama.

Okay I am out of my funk now, allow me to reframe my earlier question:

Is there anything that I can do to help those of my race help themselves?

Autographed Letter Signed,



10 Responses to “Thursday Stitch N’ Bitch: Sewing Hope”

  1. sstorm0730 Says:

    wonderful! I don’t know what else to say…I am a fan!

  2. Melissa Says:

    Excellent post as always. The only suggestion I have is maybe volunteer work with an organization like Big Brothers/Big Sisters. You could teach a younger generation to help themselves by example. Any positive seed you can plant in a kid’s head is a good thing. You might not see immediate results, but I’d bet your influence will help shape the adults they become.

  3. Give up. (Sorry, I’m in a perpetual funk myself which should end in about 3 1/2 years.) Well, when you figure out how to help your race, please help figure out how to help the entire species because we are pretty much irremediable.

    On a sunnier day, I would say probably similar to Melissa above–perhaps we cannot helps groups but should focus on helping individuals here and there?

  4. RedDragon62 Says:

    I know exactly how you feel Afrocity! I am a “South Sider” myself. I grew up in the “Little Village, Back of the Yards and Englewood” neighborhoods. Many of my childhood friends have succumbed to the “Thug” life. Most paid for their memberships with their lives and some with their freedom.

    I am watching my city die as I write this. I wrote a story about this on my Blog also. It pains me to watch young people act out with violence and then to watch the Chicago Police either gun down anyone they perceive as a threat or get drunk and run people down with their autos.

    The national media has not begun to pay attention to the “Urban Warfare” that is taking place here. local media does but we all know what that does….Nothing!

    You would think, being from Chicago, Obama would at least speak out and condemn the violence but alas…it has no political capital for him at the moment. there are no “Urban” lobbyist tossing cash into his coffers for attention.

    Stay in the City Afrocity. Chicago needs you and your community needs you. I am of Apache/Mexican Heritage so I can not speak to your ethnicity but I suspect that your people could always use an intelligent voice to speak for those that have no voice.

    Hang in there Sister! if there is anything I can do to help….Just Holler!

  5. I can’t remember the quote, but I’ve been meaning to do a post on it. It basically says that Black people should be left alone and have suffered overmuch from people meddling.

  6. yes, I found it. here it is, from Frederick Douglas:

    “The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us. Gen. Banks was distressed with solicitude as to what he should do with the Negro. Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, “What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot- box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! [Applause.] If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone,–your interference is doing him a positive injury. Gen. Banks’ “preparation” is of a piece with this attempt to prop up the Negro. Let him fall if he cannot stand alone! If the Negro cannot live by the line of eternal justice, so beautifully pictured to you in the illustration used by Mr. Phillips, the fault will not be yours, it will be his who made the Negro, and established that line for his government. [Applause.] Let him live or die by that. If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live. He will work as readily for himself as the white man. A great many delusions have been swept away by this war. One was, that the Negro would not work; he has proved his ability to work. “

  7. theblackcommenter – excellent quote.

    Afrocity – Thursday Stitch N’ Bitch is one of the highlights of my week. I’m putting the link to this post on Twitter.

  8. realwest Says:

    Afrocity, I think that your writing ability was excellent to begin with on this blog and with this article has passed excellent to go on to superb.
    I do not have any answers for you. I have some thoughts, comments and MAYBE some insights.
    I am a Conservative (albeit the White Male of the species; not the accomplished, wealthy “old Boys Club” White Male of the species, merely a White Male of the species).
    I originally opposed affirmaive action for one very simple reason: I thought – and still do think – that is is morally wrong and indeed impure to discriminate against or for someone solely because of the color of their skin. (BTW, I think EXCACTLY the same way about age and gender). While I understood the various rationales initiially given for affirmative action – that without having schools and unions and other opportunities “set aside” for Black People, then Black People would continue to suffer from the racism inherent in most white people, who were CONSERVATIVE in their political beliefs. Liberals,of course, did not need affirmative action for, simply by virtue of their being Liberals, they would always “give the Black Person a break……a hand up, if you will.” When we conservatives squaked about the morality of discrimination, we were, at the least, laughed at. One of my personal characteristics, for better or worse, is that I am Stubborn. I did not believe that Affrimative Action would assist many Blacks at all and if it did, it would also NECESSARILY infuse those who benefitted from Affirmative Action with the sense that they were NOT GOOD ENOUGH to succeed as human beings on their own. But the evidence seemed overwhelmingly in favor of Affirmative Action: low scores in schools, in job tests, high rates of dependency on Welfare and/or crime.
    But as I investigated these claims I discovered something which others already knew: those on Welfare were kept on Welfare as much by the action of the “Racial Profiteers” at least as much as by the color of thier skin. And when I say “Racial Profiteers” I mean, generally speaking, those Black politicians (at first) who were elected by their mostly Black constituencies and -to fend off challengers of any color for their political office, would simply offer……….more (and better) Welfare. And they were in a position to do so, particularly in the Cities, where largely White Male Democrats needed the Black Vote to remain in political office – say, as Mayor of a large city. This was clearly true in my hometown of NYC and I rather strongly beleive my sister, who has lived for 30+ years of her ADULT life in Chicago would agree it is even more true in Chicago. NYC has had many, many successful Black Politicians, from Basil Patterson to Charlie Rangel, to David Dinkins (who actually was elected Mayor…….once.). While Chicago has had it’s fair share of successful Black politicians, I’m told by my uber liberal sister, that discrimination is FAR WORSE in Chicago than in NYC. Chicago has NEVER had a Black Mayor, or a Black President of what we in NYC call the City Council – NYC’s legistlative branch. I can’t remember for how long – I’m guessing close to 20 years here – NYC had a Black Man or Black Woman as President of the City Council. It is largely the City Counsel which overseas the actual disbursement of both Welfare and Food stamps. Very powerful politicians indeed.
    And yet, with affirmative action and political “help” aplenty, we white male conservatives do NOT see Black People advancing very much at all in either politics (never had a Black US Senator for example; never had a Black in charge of the State Legislature) or in opening or creating their own businesses – perhaps the fastest way – even with President Obama and The Dems in complete control of the USA – to achieve economic success is to start a business, build it up to the point where YOU are making money from other people’s labor. And it is, in my opinion the Racial Profiteers – such as Chicago’s own Jesse Jackson and Jesse Jackson, Jr., and of course the seemingly every present Rev. Al Sharpton (from NYC but will travel anywhere there is racial injustice so his mug is in front of the cameras, posing as the defender as the “Black Man or Woman”). The Race Profiteers do NOT want to see the overwhelming majority of Black people succeed on thier own, for that very success negates the need for the Racial Profiteers. And lest you think I exaggerate, please tell me, where did Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton obtain or receive their wealth? Yep, from oppressed Black People. Sorta like Rev Jeremiah Wright obtaining an 11,000 sq ft house in a gated community (which itself is 93% White) from the “contributions” of his parishoners and the sales of his DVD’s of his Sermons.
    It is the Race Profiteers who espouse Affirmative Action, knowing that a) they will gain SOME credit for the continuing existence of Affirmative Action and that those who do manage to achieve and feel proud of themselves, will “appreciate” the efforts the Race Profiteers made to enable them to achieve through Affirmative Action, and b) those who are never sure if they would have “made it” without Affirmative Action, the allegence to the Race Profiteers will be ever stronger.
    IF Black Chicagoans are EVER going to stop the horrendous murder rate in that City, they are going to have to unseat King Richard (no easy task, I assure you) with a Black Man or Woman who WILL put aside the immoral and venal Affirmative Action so that Blacks can make it on their own and be less dependent on Race Profiteers for their “political” careers and aspirations. Until the Black Community stands up and says, nay, SHOUTS “NO MORE MURDERS”, then I’m afraid your depair will never quite leave you, because the root cause – the Racial Profiteer – will still control the Black community in Chicago.

    • afrocity Says:

      Thank you real west. Your support means the world to me.

      On the subject of Chicago Realwest do you remember that Chicago has had a woman mayor (Jane Byrne) and we also had a black mayor- Harold Washington.

      Harold tried to rid us of the machine but he died after his reelection. It broke my heart and the dreams of many others in the city. I think after Harold died no one cared anymore and just kept electing King Richard, who has been mayor for 20 years now. That is longer than his dad if you can believe it.

      I know NYC well having lived there for a decade. Chicago is very segregated according to race while NYC is segregated according to class. When I lived on the Upper Westside of NYC there were very few blacks in my neighborhood. Mostly upwardly mobile whites. If you can afford $2700 a month for rent …fine. Chicago will have a rich Oprah next to anyone as long as they are black.

  9. realwest Says:

    Ah, I’d forgotten about Jane and Harlold – must be senility (or the fact that I don’t live in Chicago) that made me forget. But your description of segregation differences between NYC and Chigago is spot on.
    But folks who live there are gonna HAVE to get rid of King Richard II AND dismantle his entire political machine before y’all see any real justice – especially racial jusice – in that fine city.
    And to think I’m writing this half-way through 2009; I could have written the same damn thing when King Richard I was in power.
    Well it would be Chicago’s loss, but maybe you should move – to where I wouldn’t know – I’ve suggested Charlotte to you and for reasons unspecified you nixed the idea of moving anywhere in the South (which is OUR loss) but you really need to leave – it won’t kill those bad memories, but at least you won’t be reminded of them every day.

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