Date: Fri, 17 Mar 1995 11:33:21 -0500 (EST)
From: PNEWS <>
Subject: PNEWS-PWW *Newt* *Affirmative action* *Women*
Message-ID: <>

From: Scott Marshall <>
Subject: PWW [Digest] *Newt* *Affirmative action* *Women*

People Before Profits—Attacks on affirmative action: Twisted logic

By Vic Perlo, People’s Weekly World, 18 March 1995

Two recent columns in New York newspapers deserve comment. In the first, titled, Affirmative action hasn’t helped Blacks, Wall Street Journal columnist Farrell Bloch unwittingly shows that affirmative action has helped Blacks and, at the same time, reveals his own racism.

Bloch writes: While Black unemployment rates have remained twice those of whites, the proportion of Blacks working for firms with 100 or more employees ...for federal contractors and for government has grown dramatically. True, it hasgrown (although not dramatically)—but why?

It’s only because these larger firms have to file reports with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including fulfillment of hiring goals. Federalcontractors are subject to similar Labor Department requirements. So gains by African Americans are due to affirmative action—not because larger employers and governments, whose hiring patterns remains grossly discriminatory, have stopped racial discrimination.

But there are no affirmative action requirements for small and medium-sized employers who account for 44 percent of all jobs. There, African Americans, who constitute 12.5 percent of the wage and salary labor force, have only 7.4 percent of the worst jobs—a big reason for massive unemployment among AfricanAmericans.

Bloch writes, [L]aws cannot generally help those who do not discover job opportunities made known only through word-of-mouth networks that are still ethnically segregated—and it’s precisely because of discrimination that African Americans are not able to discover these opportunities, as Bloch so delicately puts it.

Bloch emphasizes that moving jobs to suburbs hurts African Americans and admits that a major motive for the moves was to more easily exclude Blacks. This exposes the most basic fact: the capitalist class is responsible for discrimination in all fields—in jobs, housing ghettoization, in education. What’s needed is to extend affirmative action to all employers; to make it more comprehensive in order to cover housing, medical care and education.

Bloch’s substitute for affirmative action? Eliminate the minimum wage, have private charities provide occasional short-term employment at sub-minimum wages for African Americans—in a word to establish an American brand of apartheid.

In a New York Times article, Affirmative action must go, Shelby Steele, an African American, demands tough action against those who discriminate while attacking measures to counteract discrimination as unjustifiable preferences.

Steele, a more subtle opponent than Bloch, implies that his parents would have voted against the upcoming California referendum outlawing affirmative action ifit had been on the ballot in the 1950s when I was languishing in a segregated elementary school created by white preferential treatment.

In a lapse of logic, he opposes preferential treatment for anybody. What he forgets is that affirmative action is not preferential but is, rather, a way of ending discriminatory treatment against African Americans.

The real situation is discriminatory treatment against African Americans, ratherthan preferential treatment for whites, because as anybody who knows the U.S. labor scene today can see, racist discrimination hurts whites also by splitting the working class and weakening its power.

Steele is half right when he says, To my mind there is only one way to moral authority for those of us who want affirmative action done away with: to ask that discrimination by race, gender or ethnicity be a criminal offense, not justcivil. If someone can go to jail for stealing my car stereo, he ought to do considerably more time for sti_ing my livelihood and well-being by discriminating against me.

But that’s not to do away with affirmative action—it’s only to make it fully effective. Mass movements of people are needed to put in power those who will define strict affirmative action goals that must be met and then to vigorously enforce penalties against violators.