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Racists in 2003 seldom lynch black men for looking at white women.

Racists in 2003 seldom burn crosses on the lawns of black families to let them know that they're unwelcome in the neighborhood, the town or the county -- and that they should leave if they know what's good for them.

Racists in 2003 seldom stand in the doors of public schools and universities to deny access to black students.

Racists in 2003 seldom send black passengers to the back of the bus and call the police if the passengers don't comply.

Racists in 2003 seldom turn black customers away from the lunch counter.

Racists in 2003 seldom unleash police dogs or turn firehoses on peaceful black citizens who have gathered in public places to raise their voices for their rights.

Racists in 2003 seldom look into the face of the black person they meet on the street and say, "Out of my way, n*****." [Deleted to avoid FoolAlert].

All of that is ancient history.

Heck, it was 1865 when black people ceased to be property. That was 138 years ago. Most white folks can say at least one of the following: I wasn't born then. My ancestors didn't own slaves. My family hadn't come to America yet. I started with nothing, and look at me now.

Heck, it was 1954 when the Supreme Court decided in Brown that the earlier court had been wrong when it decided in Plessy that separate accommodations for blacks and whites in public places and institutions could be equal. That was 49 years ago. While there are lots of white folks still alive today who can remember that day, most of them can probably say at least one of the following: I didn't approve of the Jim Crow laws that separated black folks into inferior accommodations. There were a few black kids in my class. There were a couple of black families in my neighborhood. I had a black friend.

Our current President may not actually remember that day, but he was alive then. Our current chief justice remembers that day -- he was a law clerk to one of the justices and wrote a memo for his boss arguing that Plessy had been right. His boss didn't follow his advice. I'll bet he remembers that day very well.

Heck, it was 1964 when the Congress of the United States passed the Civil Rights Act, invoking the supremacy of the federal government to enforce against the states requirements for the elimination of their continuing discriminatory laws and practices that effectively denied black citizens the reality of equal access to education, employment and voting rights -- that put some legislative and executive muscle behind the theory of Brown. That was 39 years ago. Even I'm old enough to remember that day.

I wish I could say that I celebrated that day, but I was only six. Besides, it didn't seem like anything that required celebration to me. I was white. I was middle class. I wasn't deprived of access to education, employment or voting rights because of the color of my skin. None of my family was deprived. I lived in the northeast suburbs of Washington, D.C. where I wasn't aware of any of my black classmates or any of our black neighbors being denied access to any of these things. The Civil Rights Act just seemed like a law that said what already was reality in my world -- it was a statement that seemed obvious and unworthy of much attention. All I knew was that the blue soldiers in the play set were the good guys, and the gray soldiers were the bad guys. The bad guys had lost, and that was ancient history.

Heck, it was 1969 when the Supreme Court in Swann told the white people in Charlotte, North Carolina that they weren't doing what the court had said in 1954 or what the Congress had said in 1964. Sure, the local law no longer said that black children and white children had to be separated into different schools, but they were separated by administrative practice just the same. The court said to those bad guys, "You've proved that you won't treat your children equally as the Constitution and the law require, so we'll make you fix it, we'll make you do what you should have done on your own -- we'll force you to desegregate your schools." That was 34 years ago.

I remember that day, too. I celebrated that day. That Supreme Court was local news for me. Those men were some of my heroes. I knew that day what segregation meant, and what de jure and de facto meant. One of my teachers brought it home and burned it into my memory with a cartoon from the New Yorker that showed two identical school buses, one labeled above the windshield "De Jure" and the other "De Facto." I learned that there were people who would argue that those labels were a distinction that made a difference. I learned that there were people who claimed not to be racist as they made that argument behind facades of "neighborhood schools," "local control," and "states' rights." I learned that there were people who would lie -- to themselves and to others. I learned that people who took action and supported action that had racially discriminatory results, that perpetuated white privilege gained through historical and continuing oppression, still could somehow bring themselves to say that they weren't racists. I understood that some of them actually believed that they were telling the truth.

None of what I learned that year was much of a surprise. By then, I knew that the rest of the country was not like the small world I knew when I was six. I had seen a great black man murdered because he dared to have a dream, and I watched parts of our capital city burn with the anger of those who had been robbed of that dream. I saw the flames. I smelled the smoke. By then I had learned more history, and I read the news. I knew what white people had done to black people in this country, hiding behind religion based on a perversion of Biblical teachings and behind law based on a perversion of constitutional provisions. I knew that people still hated other people because of the color of their skin. I saw film of nicely-dressed white families who shared a pew in church on Sunday and family meals begun with a prayer also sharing an outing shouting foul language from faces contorted with rage at black people who dared to desegregate their schools. I knew that it was not only Charlotte, but that it was also Boston. That it was not only Selma, but that it was also Chicago. I knew that it was not far from my door. I knew that my simple distiction of the blue and the gray was the understanding of a child.

But this is all ancient history. In the meantime, the schools were desegregated. In the meantime, the violence subsided. In the meantime, affirmative action opened employment. In the meantime, voting rights were assured. That's what we say. That's what we believe. That's relatively true -- we have made progress in all of these areas. But relatively true is little different from absolutely false. Like those buses in that cartoon, the differnet labels carry no meaningful distinction. Like those labels, our relative truth is a lie.

Because of the appearance of relative truth, the liars of 1969 and their heirs now enjoy the popular credibility that can empower them to accomplish their goals. Now, they can take action, and now they can support action, that stops progress against racial discrimination by recharacterizing the remedy for the wrongs of ancient history, the remedy for the continuing effect of those wrongs, as merely an inverse manifestation of the same wrong. Now they can protect unearned racial privilege behind the same words of that ancient time of 34 years ago -- "neighborhood schools," "local control" and "states' rights." Now the previously discredited concept of reverse discrimination can be used by our President as the basis for national, federal public policy and heads nod approvingly across the land. Now people can express their racism in public in other words with pride.

Few people in 2003 will deny that inequality in the allocation of human, monetary and physical resources still renders the education of many black children significantly inferior to the education of most white children.

Few people in 2003 will deny that employment and advancement opportunities for black people still lag significantly behind those of white people as a result of many factors: the legacy of historical and continuing relative educational deprivation, the lack of a structure of community support for achievement, and the continuing de facto effects of the inescapable and undeniable reality that many people -- even people who can make a reasonable argument for their own personal lack of racial bias -- will still prefer for employment or advancement a person who looks like them. And the majority of the people making those decisions are still white, and mostly men.

Few people in 2003 will deny that discrepancies in voting procedures which jeopardize the effective exercise of the franchise still disproportionately affect black voters.

Yet many people in 2003 will deny the need for the continuation against these continuing problems of the remedies that have caused the progress over the last 30 years which provides the relative truth upon which they hang their absolutely false claim.

What set me off again? President Bush's dishonest claim yesterday that the University of Michigan admissions procedure which considers race as a factor constitutes an unconstitutional and discriminatory quota. His claim is not just false because he is probably too ignorant to understand it completely, his claim is a lie -- a knowing falshood -- because even an idiot should know that it is false. That knowing falsity from the President and from those who support his position or similar positions is blatantly racist.

The university does award points in its consideration of applicants based on race. The university also awards points in its consideration of applicants based on other criteria such as SAT scores, class rank, demonstrated leadership, community service and geographic origin. The white students who are the plaintiffs in this case were passed over for admission while other applicants were admitted. Some of those other applicants were black, and some of those successful black applicants had lower point scores based on their performance in some of the other criteria, such as the SAT and class rank. Far more of those other applicants were white, and far more of those successful white applicants also had lower point scores based on their performance in some of the other criteria, such as SAT and class rank.

Yet there is no outcry from the President against discrimination in favor of those white students with more community service over these unfortunate students with higher SAT scores. Yet there is no outcry from the President against discrimination in favor of those white students who were president of the French club over these unfortunate white students with higher SAT scores. Yet there is no outcry from the President against discrimination in favor of those white students who were from one state, one county or one town that resulted in garnering points over these unfortunate white students with higher SAT scores.

The SAT. The President is outraged because he understands that race is awarded more points in considering applicants than the SAT. What is the SAT? The SAT is a standardized test used by colleges as an indication of both the potential of students to learn and the learning that students have already achieved. The SAT is administered to and taken by far more white students than black students. One reason for that discrepancy is the tracking of students in many schools systems -- tracking that disproportionately places black students on a track that doesn't lead to college. In many school systems with high SAT score averages, the SAT is administered only, or nearly exclusively, to students on the college track. One effect of this tracking and its racial coincidence is the development of stereotypes that lead to differential treatment of even some black students on the college track -- artificially depressing their grades, their class rank and their involvement in additional instruction and preparation that enhances performance on the SAT. In many instances, the chances of these same black students are further depressed by the reality that they are far more likely than their white peers to live in relatively economically deprived households with relatively less-educated parents and grandparents who experienced first-hand the educational deprivation of those ancient days and who still experience the legacy of that deprivation and of work-place discrimination today.

The SAT. Although the SAT has made some progress toward removing the bias of the original test -- which was formulated by and normed for -- white people, the test itself still includes substantial racial and cultural bias which places most black students at a disadvantage relative to their white peers. In effect, the awarding by the University of Michigan of points in favor of applicants for their scores on the SAT is no less a majority racial membership criterion than is the awarding of points for minority racial membership.

The use of race by the University of Michigan is nothing more than the sensible continuation of the remedy of affirmative action that has proved successful over the last 30 years in diminishing the continuing effects of both historical and current racial discrimination in a society where power and wealth are disproportionately concentrated in the majority as a result of their past and present racism. The use of race as a remedy for this obvious and undeniable racial disadvantage does not discriminate against those who benefit from the unearned privilege of skin color. We cannot speak of inequality in favoring the unfairly disadvantaged to overcome their unfair disadvantage.

At least we cannot speak of that unless we are ignorant of both history and current reality because of some overwhelming personal mental incapacity. At least we cannot speak of that unless we are ignorant of both history and current reality because we choose to ignore the truth. At least we cannot speak of that unless we lie. At least we cannot speak of that unless we are racists in 2003.

If you act to dismantle the remedy of affirmative action after 30 years of incomplete and resisted implementation, or if you support that dismantling, and if you act to dismantle the remedy of school desegregation after 34 years of incomplete and resisted implementation, or if you support that dismantling, and if you argue for "neighborhood schools," "local control," or "states' rights" in support of your position, you are either a racist or the dupe of racists in 2003. I don't care how many black friends you claim to have. I don't care how much time or money you contribute to charities that assist primarily disadvantaged minority populations. I don't care when your ancestors came to these shores or what your ancestors may have thought of slavery. I don't care how many black families live in your neighborhood or how many black children attend school with your children. I don't care if you loathe the racism of the KKK, Trent Lott, Robert Byrd, Strom Thurmond or William Rehnquist. I don't care if your skin is black. The effect of your action or your support is to perpetuate racial discrimination in the public and private institutions of our society. The effect of your action or your support is racist. I don't have to read your mind to know that you are racist. All I have to do is hear your agreement with the President. All I have to do is to know the effects of what you do and the effects of what others do in the implementation of the beliefs that you share.

If the legacy of your actions or of those you support is racial discrimination that perpetuates black disadvantage and the unearned privilege of white skin color, then you are a racist in 2003 -- whether you admit it or not. In 2003, we need to understand very clearly that racists don't have to carry a noose, wear a hood or openly mistreat those born with the minority skin color. In 2003, we need to recognize the new face of racism -- even if it looks out of the mirror in the morning and says, "Not me." In 2003, we need to discredit those faces in order to resume the progress we have made since the ancient history of 30 years ago. In 2003, we need to acknowledge the absolute falsity of the relative truth of that progress. In 2003, we need to speak out against the liars and the racists with the words that boldly speak the truth of their ignominy.

This is not a difference of opinion about policy. Today, when you find a liar, call him a liar, and when you find a racist, call him a racist. Even when you see him in the mirror.

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