May 23, 2013 - Issue 518 No Thanks For the Motivation - The Other Side of the Tracks - By Perry Redd - BC Columnist 

Once again, the President is playing the tune of indifference, the tune of disconcern, the tune of white men. He is definitely a president like all others. The previous 43 presidents were white males, and so is this one.

“Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. And moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured - and they overcame them,” he said to the graduating class of men at historically Black Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

His message came off as powerful and necessary for the higher-income Blacks and conservative whites who believe that with hard work, you too, can achieve the American Dream. This is the desired language sought after by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). They speak often of the “post-racial” America, where there are “no excuses” for not getting your piece of the capitalist pie. These are the very people who kick the ladder down once they get up. This fallacious argument is an affront to all things true and righteous.

It is documented fact that disparities in criminal justice sentencing, health, wealth, housing and income are all deeply indwelled American phenomena that Black men did not cause. It’s hard to sell me the myth that Black men don’t want to be rich like white men, but the fact remains that the wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled over the past 25 years, due largely to inequality in home ownership, income, education and inheritances, according to a 2013 study by Brandeis University.

The fact is that Black men don’t make excuses. The insinuation is an insult - for anyone with half a brain. Selling this mainstream myth ought to have Black men pissed off and almost ready to work with neo-conservatives to derail the president’s agenda (but that’s even more unimaginable!) It’s no excuse that whites hire whites. It’s no excuse that corporations set barriers before those whom they want to exclude - they’re legal barriers. That’s the basis of wealth disparity.

The difference in wealth between typical households in each racial group ballooned to $236,500 in 2009, up from $85,000 in 1984, according to the study, released in February. By 2009, the median net worth of white families was $265,000, while blacks had only $28,500. In a country where whites started off with a 300-year head start in wealth, it’s not a Black man’s excuse that his earnings fall short of the American Dream.

There is a wide gap in what passes for post-racial America. Home ownership is driving the growing gap. Price appreciation is more limited in non-white neighborhoods, making it harder for blacks to build equity. Also, because whites are more likely to have family financial assistance for down payments (being they had the 300-year head start in wealth resources), they are able to buy homes an average of eight years earlier than black families and to put down larger upfront payments that lower interest rates and mortgage costs. The home ownership rate for whites is 28% higher than that of blacks.

Not to mention some of the largest uncovered residential fair-lending scandals in American history, large banks like Wells Fargo and bank of America elected to settle lawsuits (for pennies on their dollar) when its independent brokers systematically discriminated against Black and Latino borrowers during the housing boom. You’d say what white neo-cons say: “What are you talking about Perry Redd, those people just borrowed beyond their means…they’re making excuses”?

Bullcrap! An investigation by the Department of Justice’s civil rights division found that mortgage brokers working with Wells Fargo had charged higher fees and rates to more than 30,000 minority borrowers across the country than they had to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk. That’s simply fact. That’s what they do. That’s no excuse by Black men, but President Obama will make a speech that whitewashes these facts and maked Black men carry that burden - when 2013 can be the time in history when the shackles of burden can come off!

No Black male sat down and created the concept of “redlining.” It is in effect today as much as it was 50 years ago. For those unfamiliar with the term, redlining is the practice of denying, or charging more for, services such as banking, insurance, access to health care, or even supermarkets, or denying jobs to residents in particular, often racially determined, areas. It refers to the practice of marking a red line on a map to delineate the area where banks would not invest; later the term was applied to discrimination against a particular group of people (usually Black people) irrespective of geography.

Whenever Obama gets up to speak before Black people, he seems to play white male-in-chief each time at bat…and we’re getting whacked!  It’s time we quit playing the role of star-struck girls and tell the President “thanks, but no thanks.” Save that message for people who deserve it - white males. The same ones who want to take their country back and reverse Affirmative Action. Tell them to get off the government’s teat with their cushy defense contracts. Mr. President, tell them to stop making excuses. Columnist, Perry Redd, longtime activist & organizer, is the Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the soon-to-be-released on-line book, “As A Condition of Your Freedom”. He is also the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.