|"that to be a black American - no matter how
successful or well off - amounts to a kind of prison sentence." He compares his situation as a
successful black academic with his white colleagues. "It's not that white academics don't
work extraordinarily hard, but what they have that I lack is a sense of leisure, an
absence of endangerment, a look of being unconcerned that at any moment they could die.
Blacks are psychologically constrained, trapped in anxiety-ridden relationships with white culture."
||Tom's message boils down to this:
"I understand we're doing lots of things to make things better for black people.
We can point to all kinds of programs and all kinds of money flows.
But despite all that I look and see that we're failing.
Our programs and our monies aren't doing the job.
We're missing something."
Dick responds: "That conceptual model is wrong.
Whites shouldn't be doing things FOR blacks; that just perpetuates the
"second-class citizen/noblesse oblige/patronizing/you are not capable"
attitudes. Whites need to work WITH blacks as partners and as helpers,
but the responsibilities are shared because we are all in this together.
As white members of society, our hope for society cannot realistically be
to turn blacks into people with white values and ways of thinking and acting
(but whose skin just happens to be black). Our hope has to be that we can
be part of helping all persons in our society to become all they can be --
whatever that looks like, and we have to make a leap of faith that the
"whatever it looks like" will be a whole lot better than what we have
Harry answers: "That leaves room for me to do nothing until somebody
presents me with a model of how blacks and whites can be partners and make a difference.
Meanwhile, it seems to me that a lot of damage has been done and our world
still works in a way that makes the black man's job tougher than the white man's job.
Justice and equity are deep values in our society, and they are abridged on matters of race."
|"the main problem African Americans face in school and elsewhere is the set of
values they embrace as authentic. Too many blacks dismiss school achievement
as a "white thing", he says, establishing a predictable pattern they follow later in life by
accepting distorted notions of "cultural blackness" that cast racism as an immutable fact
and romanticize ghetto life."