Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Voice of reason, as usual

Those who live outside of Atlanta may not be familiar with AJC editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker, but you should be. She takes on all comers, no matter how sacred (including the children of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose mismanagement of their father's legacy has been chronicled extensively, and courageously, by Tucker). I've been looking forward to her take on the Star Jones McKinney flap, and her perspective is as refreshing as always:

If you're going to call a press conference and muster such prominent supporters as Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, you ought to be sure the issue is important enough to command national attention. You should save that sort of clarion call for the most serious matters — renewing the Voting Rights Act or raising the minimum wage so that more black men can support their children. The precious spotlight of national news coverage should not be wasted on a spoiled and demanding congresswoman who thinks she's the Soul Queen of Capitol Hill.

Nor should the Abrams tank of political warfare — the charge of "racism" — be rolled out to fight every minor battle. Racism is a shadow of its former self, but it lives yet. You see it in the high rates of harsh discipline meted out to black boys in public schools. You can also see it in the disproportionate numbers of black men sent to prison for crimes they didn't commit.

Certainly, the legacy of racism is alive and well. You can see it in the self-destructive behavior of so many young black men — the internecine violence, the distorted self-esteem, the worship of thug culture. You can see the legacy of racism in the enduring rates of poverty and poor health among black citizens.

But McKinney's trumped-up charge of racism merely cheapens the term, so that it's less effective when it's needed to discuss genuine discrimination.


Perhaps the fact that one-third of young black men have police records is not a problem. Maybe the fact that 70 percent of black children are born outside the bonds of marriage is no big deal, and a 72 percent unemployment rate among black male high school drop-outs in their 20s does not signal a crisis. Maybe the serious decline in the marriage rate among black adults does not suggest the demise of a community.

No, indeed. The biggest problem facing black America involves a white cop who wouldn't give a black woman her props.

More proof that Tucker is a most worthy heir to local journalism titans Henry Grady and Ralph McGill.

1 comment:

  1. She is fantastic. Not just for that column either. She's just great.