Monday, July 20, 2015

Collaboration is the ONLY Possible Answer to America’s Race Issue

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There is a LOT of dishonesty surrounding America’s “race problem” today. Dishonesty on BOTH sides.

On the part of “liberals”/“progressives” it is based on a disinformation and a craven pandering for votes, while on the part of Conservatives, it’s mostly out of a consternation, born of, “Given how much progress has been made, just WHAT are “they” complaining about?”

Fact, there HAS BEEN a LOT of real progress made on this front.

Fact, there is STILL a long way to go, in dealing with some of the most intractable disparities.

Just a cursory look at the executive suites of our national media conglomerates, the partner lists of our major law and accounting firms and the rosters of America’s major engineering firms confirms what most of us already (probably) suspect, VFB (VERY Few Blacks). Now, many look at that reality and blame blacks for not trying hard enough. Others look at it as proof of an intractable “racism.”

Neither of those is actually correct.

There is NO “racist cabal” among all those companies trying to keep blacks out. HOWEVER, there IS a tendency among all of us to favor and feel most comfortable among those “of our kind.” That goes for blacks and whites...and EVERYONE else, EVERYWHERE on earth!

So, what’s the big deal?

That really IS a big deal. Just change the dynamic in your own mind...imagine it was your group being left out and another group running most of the businesses and industries. Regardless of how much outreach and recruitment those entities did, it would be tempting for most of us to suspect bigotry as the primary, if not ONLY reason for your group’s poor showing, just as surely as it would be equally tempting for the other group to complain, “We’ve already bent over backwards to accommodate such diversity.”

Many might well argue that, “There’s no overt bigotry going on, just the natural affinity of like individuals to prefer others like themselves.” Now THAT is correct, there is NO overt bigotry in that, BUT there really IS a major problem with it, as it ultimately separates us and segregates. Worse still, that simple bit of human nature is self-perpetuating.

That is malignant and toxic in a truly open and multi-cultural society.

I always keep the things I’ve written, which at this point in my life, has become a fairly voluminous tome. At any rate, back in 1974 (a time when I was filled with a naïve youthful exuberance and wondered aloud why welfare wasn’t far more generous...ANSWER: Because it would make an existing disincentive to work/productivity even more of a disincentive...I also proposed what was almost certainly an overly enthusiastic idea, that ANYONE starting a business, or any group (from a business group, to a singing group) would be mandated to reach out and take in at least one partner from another ethnic/racial group.

As you’ve probably guessed, that idea was NOT at all well received and for very good reason. I was often reminded how “hopelessly naïve” it was by a number of professors - I was in College at the time.

Recently, I looked back on that and I have to ask now, what I didn’t ask back then; IS that really such a naïve and ill-conceived idea?

Just look at the images at the top of this page (…) and what do they all have in common?

Yes, it’s pretty obvious. They’re ALL white.

Now, of course, ALL of them are innovators and they ALL either singularly created an entity (like Elon Musk), or brought significant contributions to the table on specific contributions, like (Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer).

The vast majority of Americans, who are free market oriented, would say, THAT is their own intellectual property. WHY should they share it, or be forced to bring in partners that DON’T bring much, if anything to the table?

The last part is the rub. Indeed WHY should such people bring in anyone who doesn’t actually and significantly improve their existing project?

The problem is that the vast majority of such people have a circle of friends who look exactly like themselves, just as surely as that’s true for Asians, blacks and others, as well.

The problem with my idealistic idea, born of a youthful exuberance, which I no longer have...I am no longer young, nor all that exuberant...was far too authoritarian, requiring a group of government sponsored “over-seers” to micromanage all of our startups, making a largely incompetent (especially when it comes to business) government a silent partner in ALL such entities.

No, that’s unacceptable in a free and open society, but that doesn’t make the entire idea invalid. We COULD, instead, incentivize such an outreach, with various tax abatements, etc.

The question is, “Are we really serious about addressing inequities in OPPORTUNITY (NOT necessarily outcomes/results, but OPPORTUNITIES),” or are we OK with “kicking this can a little further down the road.” It IS extremely difficult for those of either race to put themselves in the shoes of the other. It is as difficult for many whites to understand how alienated a black citizen can feel, when every Fairy Tale they’ve ever read centers around people different than themselves, when they rarely see people who look like them in any great numbers in high places outside of government, as it for blacks to understand why poor (mostly rural) whites are actually even MORE disenfranchised, with far LESS access to government assistance than urban blacks are!

Few of us seem very adept at understanding the plight of others.

But one thing’s for sure, segregating standards (via race/gender preferences) and ethnocentrizing opportunities via “set-asides,” amounts to putting a band aide on a severed artery. To date, we’ve spent most of our efforts and resources on masking the symptoms and few to none on addressing the actual systemic issues. Our current “solutions” STILL pit group against group, when real collaboration is what is genuinely needed and which needs to be encouraged.

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