Where’s The Love?
The Bitter ‘Voice’ of Today’s Affirmative Action Proponents
by Adam Abraham
SACRAMENTO — One important element that is consistently missing from discourses by today’s “affirmative action” advocates and preservationists, is love. In its stead is the same tool that’s been used to manipulate public perception since the “dawn” of the Dark Age: i.e., fear. They speak to the idea of equality, but fearing the actual practice, do everything they can to scare the bejeezus out of anyone who takes them seriously. As such, their regard for those who wish to put race-neutral public policies into practice would best be characterized as unloving.
The lack of love in such discourse is perplexing when you consider how love is pretty much all we want to sing and wax poetic about. It’s the universal subject that we get wistful about. We may rant and rave about politics and culture, but when “push comes to shove,” we’re really concerned about love. Is love really only a tool of poets and song stylists? Is it only something to “slap,” in one’s rap? Is love’s only appropriate ‘time,’ really in a ‘beat,’ or perchance, a rhyme?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s very possible that the most vociferous defenders of affirmative action, who want to “protect” existing policies and practices, would emphatically assert that love is their motivation. They might say that they love “black” people, or Hispanic people, or “brown” people, or “minorities,” and want to see them have a “fair shake” in life. But then, there’s a paradox. They don’t appear to care about anyone else. They want to end discrimination, but they practice discrimination; even in their ‘love.’ Otherwise, they wouldn’t disparage, show such disrespect for, and disdain to others who — for no other reason, and are working within the law — have a different point of view. They wouldn’t don “halos” and, failing at making rational arguments, denounce their ideological opponents as demons.
The sun provides a great example of how true love works. It shines on and warms all who are touched by its rays. Within a certain temperature range, all humans will gain a pleasant experience from solar contact. In other ranges, all will have an unpleasant experience if they don't choose to make some adjustments. The sun simply gives. Without it, life as we know it, would not be possible. Similarly, rain falls on, and brings its blessings to all. Gravity keeps all of us safely “moored” on the planet. The atmosphere sustains and protects us all. There is no “discrimination” or arbitrary “selectivity” in the system, and certainly no malice. Individually, we determine what our relationship to these natural givers and providers of vital life energy will be.
On the other hand, we say that we love humanity, but have continued to find reasons to treat selected members of humanity, inhumanely. This is not limited to matters of race. We will hold beliefs that some human beings are less intelligent or valuable, or not as capable of fending for themselves. Or we see some as incapable of being compassionate and loving… solely on the basis of history, their nationality, skin color, culture, or ethnicity. Some people used to think of other humans as “sub-human.” Although that notion has generally gone the way of the dinosaur, our behavior and attitudes haven’t yet caught up with today’s reality. So we try to “compensate” for the differences, which are static, external and comparable, instead of seeing and celebrating our similarities, which are dynamic, internal and immeasurable… and present within all.
Depending on which side of an idea we stand on, we will say it’s “wrong” for some people to do such things, but “right” for us. Therefore we sometimes seek “protections” against them… out of fear, not love, of the evils we believe “they” will do. Yet, by so doing, we overshadow the greatness that is within those who will become presumed under-achievers based on external data, never bothering to look inside.. More often than not, in order to get our attention, they will then live down to our personal and collective presumptions; that is, until they consciously decide to live up to their own.
While today’s affirmative action advocates fashion themselves as carrying the torch for civil rights, it’s important to point out that the goal of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s was equal treatment under the law (and alignment with the founding principles of the United States), not a transposition of “unequal treaters.” Affirmative action advocates say that they want equality, but don’t say that they believe that the people they are “fighting” for aren’t capable of standing on their own. If they did so, the “downtrodden” might finally rise up on their own. If today’s “neo activists” believed in real affirmative action instead of simple rabble rousing, they’d support ways to make human achievement capability unquestionable. The best way to do so is to remove artificial, arbitrary, and externally biased support structures.
Unequal civil practices that are based on racial profiles and unspoken biases, are arrogant, narrow minded, condescending, and based on false and harmful assumptions. “Supporters” of such practices do not express confidence that income and academic achievement gaps can and will close with the removal of race-based preference schemes. This is most likely because they either don’t believe that they will, or don’t know how to make it happen. Since the latter option would be hard to admit, they sell the capability of a generation of children and adults-to-be down the river. Euro-centrism, “the System” or some other entity, are deemed more powerful than their own commitment and resolve, which is another falsehood. They cover their tracks with fear by suggesting that greater disparity will occur if we don’t keep a watchful eye out for the “race crimes” that would come. As long as the belief is strong, it will be “true” for all believers.
Our real power as human beings is in where we focus our thoughts and energies, and how we use them. This applies to all people. History, culture and tradition are secondary to these primary truths. Therefore, as long an individual focuses on the sorrowful aspects of the history, or the bleak prospects of the future, he or she will most likely have a sorrowful present, and consequently, a bleak and sorrowful future.
Focusing one’s attention on the potential evils of the world only makes one an expert in said “evils,” whether real or imagined. Pick one — there’s many to go around — and everything will be seen to be “true” in that context. Every aberrant act will be seen as pervasive. Negativity will be amplified and positive achievements overshadowed or discounted, which allows fear to predominate and love to appear to be subordinate. This practice creates sour dudes and “dudettes.”
When reading material distributed by activist organizations such as B.A.M.N. (By Any Means Necessary), the described scenario appears to be happening. There is bitterness in their message, particularly for those who they consider “enemies” of their point of view. Love cannot flourish in a bitter heart. It sits silently waiting for the clouds — of anger, resentment, and enmity — to pass. The clouds will sometimes move slowly.
I’m as interested in making the world a better (not bitter) place – for everyone – as the next guy. But I have no need to “rob Peter” of his right to equal treatment, in order to “support” Paul’s negative attitudes and unproductive behavior practices. Paul must recognize the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of his attitudes and behaviors, and adjust them accordingly. He will also be the primary beneficiary of any positive change. A “win” for affirmative action policies really does nothing for me, or those for whom “the fight” was waged. Equal treatment is a “win” for everyone.
I’m responsible for the “mess” I put myself in, far more than racism, George Bush (or President “X”), the Military Industrial Complex, or the Pillsbury DoughboyTM." With the social climate as it is right now, I’m also able to affect the changes that I need in order to improve my life. I am no different than any other human being in this regard.
Keeping affirmative action policies in place won’t really affect my life, nor will taking them away. This is of greatest concern to those whose income depends on said policies existence. I support the spirit of efforts to dismantle them, not because I want race relations to get worse, but because I believe human relations will improve in their absence.
Today people of all “races” are acting better than our collective political and historical attitudes – which will always lag behind actuality – would suggest. All should be given the benefit of trust, faith, and positive encouragement without regard to “race.” The higher nature of all should be appealed to, encouraged to be revealed, and believed in. All should be held accountable for their actions or inactions, their initiative or indolence, without regard to race. That is what made the U.S. Constitution such a remarkable document over 200 years ago. This is what made its great wealth and power possible. It set forth the spirit of equality, which is the natural state of all humanity, irrespective of individual or collective beliefs. If we kill the spirit of equality, we kill the nation.
Today, too many people are suffering needlessly, especially black and brown folk, because they think they should stay angry, disinterested, and disaffected, until something or someone else changes. While they are free to do this, they’ve got it backwards. Things will change when the individual changes: not externally, but internally. We can’t continue to support life strategies that involve waiting for some else to say, “I’m sorry, here’s some money.” But these are the advocates that are being invited to colleges and paid handsome sums to speak. Yet, even if a “great shakedown and handout” happens, it wouldn’t change a mind that hasn’t itself been changed. A life will not change unless a heart is first opened, to love… not only love of romance, sex, family, friends, or those who agree with us, but of all people and life itself.
Adam Abraham is author of I Am My Body, NOT! (ISBN 0-9700209-1-0 $19.95 from Phaelos Books) and A Freed Man: An Emancipation Proclamation (ISBN 0-9700209-0-2 $17.95 from Phaelos Books). Mr. Abraham can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through his publisher Phaelos Books & Mediawerks.
Copyright © 2004 Adam Abraham. All rights reserved.