Friday, February 20, 2009

A Nation of Cowards?: Pat Buchanan and Dr. Micheal Eric Dyson attempt a courageous conversation on Race

Yesterday on Hardball, Pat Buchanan and Professor Micheal Eric Dyson squared off on the question of whether Americans are 'a Nation of Cowards' with regard to the matters of race, as was suggested by US Attorney General Eric Holder. Their conversation confrontation is captured below...

I give a lot of credit to Pat Buchanan for his willingness to honestly and unapologetically state his opinions on race as he has over the years; oft times with questionable company (read: Stormfront, Council of Conservative Citizens, etc). But I really wish that Professor Dyson had dealt less with the sensational and spent a little time really illuminating the structural and institutional challenges and disparities facing our community.

I wish he'd mentioned the fact that Public school districts with large minority populations receive nearly $1,000 less per pupil. I wish he'd mentioned the recent data showing that within primarily minority school districts, approximately 78 percent of teachers do not teach in their accredited subject area. I wish he'd mentioned the fact that when white and black youths are arrested for the same crime and with similiar criminal records, minorities are three times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. Or perhaps he could have mentioned the seemingly permenant disparities in unemployment rates and the linkages to disparities in sickness and deaths from treatable diseases and afflictions as 52% of minorities are currently without health insurance...

THESE institutional elements are the issues that no one wants to discuss. This is the elephant in the room. We can argue about feelings and resentments; we even make movies about them -but who's ready to radically re-vision our institutions? Are we ready to talk about employment law and the 'shifting standards' that make discrimination cases virtually unwinnable? Are we ready to really talk about immigration policy as it applies to all nations? Are we ready to discuss the concept of "excess death" and it's roots?  Are we prepared to talk about why the gap in white and black unemployment rates never closes? Are we ready to talk about how teacher union contracts and how they impact the academic achievement gap?

I could go on and on, but I guess in the absence of a truly honest dialogue, these "info-tainment" style collisions will have to suffice...

AG Holder, I'm with you...

But what do you all think? Are we as a nation ready for a truly courageous conversation? Post a comment, and let's talk about it....

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