the immediate wake of September 11, uniformed and civilian supervisors
started tossing an ancient racial epithet around the offices of Redstone
Arsenal, in Huntsville, Alabama. A firestorm of outrage erupted as it
became clear that, in the "rocket capital of the world" Black
weapons scientists are regarded as nothing more than "Tar Babies."
(See "Tar Baby Outrage" in the June 7 issue of BC.)
is ominously significant that all four of the meticulously documented
incidents occurred in the months after President Bush announced that
the world has been divided into "us" and "them."
He neglected to explain that "us" included African Americans.
The good old boys and yahoos, who consider themselves to be thoroughly
patriotic, felt a surge of empowerment and began acting out their most
disturbing conclusions can be drawn from the Redstone experience. Either
Bush's emerging national security state is fundamentally racist, or
American racism undermines the security of the state.
both conclusions are true.
No Evil, See No Threat
bottom line is that security and intelligence agencies of the U.S. are
rife with race discrimination," read a June 13 letter to President
Bush from Matthew Fogg, head of the Redstone Area Minority Employees
Association. "For this reason, it is imperative that racial bias
be treated as a serious threat to national security
following week the White House received a letter from the President
of Blacks In Government (BIG), Gerald Reed, who found reports of "systemic
racism" at Redstone "appalling." BIG seeks to speak on
behalf of 2.5 million African American federal, state and local employees,
including many Blacks at the military's most sensitive installations.
Redstone outrage resonated among readers of The Black Commentator, which
first brought the story to a national audience. BC made Fogg's letter
to the President and other top officials available via a news release
to thousands of publications nationwide along with Washington correspondents.
Those receiving the news release represented virtually the entire national
corporate news media. Relatively few picked up the story.
major media's disinterest was not surprising. Much of the corporate
press decided years ago that racial discrimination was no longer important
news. American racism is characterized by the view that people of color
represent either a problem or a threat. Bias charges are treated as
a "game" in which Blacks "play" their "race
cards." Many editors believe that racial problems are largely of
African Americans' own making - which is also the dominant opinion among
the people surrounding President Bush.
outrageous behavior of white supervisors at Redstone is, in this twisted
logic, an isolated incident that is being overblown by thin-skinned
African Americans whining about petty problems.
corporate-controlled media cannot be expected to be any more receptive
to African American complaints than the corporate-controlled White House.
In fact, the two groups validate each other's prejudices. Black people's
grievances are seen as inherently suspect, and not necessarily newsworthy.
Redstone, where highly trained weapons specialists have been shut out
of participation in the national defense, the rationale goes like this:
Black suffering cannot possibly represent a national security problem
unless there is a Black threat to national security.
African Americans are not and have never been a threat to national security,
the White House, the Pentagon and the press feel no need to provide
an adequate response to the assaults on Black rights and dignity at
Redstone coverage generated lots of mail. Former EEO manager Jean Lavine
Sanford speculated on the effects of racism-induced low morale among
African Americans servicing AC-130 guns ships.
submit that such an employee might not be disposed to do the job as
it should be done because the employee is preoccupied with combating
racial animus in the work place. A hostile work environment can prove
to be as devastating to our Nation's security as some faceless enemy
hiding in the bushes.
is past time for the President, Congress, and everyone else who occupy
seats of power to realize that Equal Employment Opportunity (Enforcement)
is as imperative to Strategic Plans of Action as is any other dedicated
Whom the Whistle Blows
national corporate press claim to be public watchdogs. In reality, they
are selectively concerned citizens of a made-up white country. Consider
their treatment of the "whistleblower" angle in our ongoing
national security saga.
agent Colleen Rowley became an instant - and deserving - media icon
when she charged that a supervisory agent had obstructed an investigation
that might have prevented the events
of September 11. Her actions were lauded as the highest expression of
Clara Denise West and other African American scientists blew the whistle
on morale-destroying discrimination at a super-sensitive military installation.
As a reward, they and their degrees were sidelined to years of menial
duty. Dr. West was called a "Tar Baby."
media took no notice, despite having been aggressively alerted to the
story by professional journalists who know how the business works. When
matters of race are involved, their minds malfunction. Threatening
Black people are newsworthy - those who warn that overt acts of racism
threaten the nation, are not.
discrimination against African Americans at Redstone and throughout
the public and private workplaces of America is both unjust and counter
to the national interest, regardless of the color codes on Homeland
Security Chief Tom Ridge's ridiculous terror alert charts. If blatant
acts of racism at high security weapons installations during Bush's
proclaimed time of war are non-events, then our worst suspicions
are confirmed: Bush and his generals are more loyal to their race than
to their country. They are the national security threats.
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