Affirmative Action

by Mason Weaver, published in the San Diego County North County Times on October 11, 1996. Received from Duffy Tweedy on the ConChr-l listserver on 10/10/96.

The Affirmative Action debate has heated up all over the nation. With
California taking the lead, other states, schools and courts are  looking at
"race management" in a new light. In the last three months I  have spoken in
Washington, D.C., Seattle, Los Angeles, St.Louis and  even Green Bay on this
subject. Why? Why are we still struggling with  race relations in America?
Because there are a lot of money and power in poverty and hopelessness.  The
real question all Americans should ask themselves is "should the  government
decide which race or gender will get benefits in hiring,  promotions or
contracts?" Those who answer no will have a natural  support for state
proposition 209. This ballot initiatives will forbid  the state of
California from considering race or gender in its hiring  or promotions.
This is what the civil rights movement was all about,  merit and competition.
I keep hearing that the playing field is not level, what nonsense! It  need
not be level since the opportunity to prepare for the playing  field is
equal. As a black man, I find offense in the idea that I need  a government
program to assure white people will not overpower me.
Let me make it clear, I am not the pet of white America, I am not the  white
mans burden and I certainly am not a natural resource that has to  be
managed by the government. The condescending attitudes of the  opponents to
proposition 209 are actually suffering from a superiority complex. They
honestly believe they are superior to  "minorities" but because of their
kindness they want to make sure they  don't abuse their superiority. If they
had their way I would be placed  on the Endangered Species list , captured
and tagged. I would be preserved in a zoo somewhere taken care of and
provided for.
Folks the plantation life is over and black people do not need the
co-dependent, enabling, racist liberals managing our lives. Wake up, we
have left the plantation a long time ago and we are not going back on  it.
Every time the government is in charge of race management, it  always has a
negative affect on black people.
Why would I trust the same government that legalized slave murder, gave  us
segregation, beatings, separate but equal and lynching, to  administer a
program to benefit me? The government has never changed  society, society
has changed government. As a people we direct  government and government
reluctantly follows. It was the people that  developed the underground
railroad, boycotts, demonstration and civil  disobedience. This caused
change within the government in response to  the pressure from the people.
Now some of us want the government to lead the people and oversee the
development of racial harmony among us. The government cannot, only we  can.
It was not the government that brought down the "colored only"  signs, it
was the people.
Some think that the Affirmative Action program is fighting  discrimination.
If you have that belief you may think I support racial  discrimination and
that is far from the truth. I support strong anti  discrimination laws and a
vigorous enforcement of them. But Affirmative Action is discrimination and
that goes against everything I fought  against.
There are many problems in America's race history and know one is  denying
them. But to resolve them needs fairness. No one is free until  all of us
are free. If a government program can deny white males, what  will stop them
from denying a black male? I have been there and will  never return.
Doctor Martin Luther King never asked for special rights for black  people,
he did not dream of a society where master would treat us  better. What King
hoped for and died to obtain was a place where the  color of his skin was
not noticed by his government. Long Live the Dream!

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