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Witness: Blacks, whites, and the politics of shame in America -- by Shelby Steele
Opinion Journal (Wall Street Journal) ^ | October 26, 2005 | Shelby Steele

Posted on 10/26/2005 9:20:58 AM PDT by EveningStar

Probably the single greatest problem between blacks and whites in America is that we are forever witness to each other's great shames. This occurred to me in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, when so many black people were plunged into misery that it seemed the hurricane itself had held a racial animus. I felt a consuming empathy but also another, more atavistic impulse. I did not like my people being seen this way. Beyond the human mess one expects to see after a storm like this, another kind of human wretchedness was on display. In the people traversing waist-deep water and languishing on rooftops were the markers of a deep and static poverty. The despair over the storm that was so evident in people's faces seemed to come out of an older despair, one that had always been there. Here--40 years after the great civil rights victories and 50 years after Rosa Parks's great refusal--was a poverty that oppression could no longer entirely explain. Here was poverty with an element of surrender in it that seemed to confirm the worst charges against blacks: that we are inferior, that nothing really helps us, that the modern world is beyond our reach...

(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: greatsociety; katrina; poverty; racism; responsibility; shelbysteele
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Let's keep this discussion on a high level, please. Thank you.

1 posted on 10/26/2005 9:20:59 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: Howlin; onyx; Clemenza; Petronski; GummyIII; SevenofNine; martin_fierro; EggsAckley; Xenalyte; ...

Miscellaneous ping


2 posted on 10/26/2005 9:22:39 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar

bump.


3 posted on 10/26/2005 9:24:34 AM PDT by Sonny M ("oderint dum metuant")
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To: EveningStar
Here--40 years after the great civil rights victories and 50 years after Rosa Parks's great refusal--was a poverty that oppression could no longer entirely explain.

Rosa Park's generation would have taken responsibility for themselves, their family and their neighbors.

4 posted on 10/26/2005 9:27:21 AM PDT by kipita (Conservatives: Freedom and Responsibility………Liberals: Freedom from Responsibility)
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To: EveningStar
Let's keep this discussion on a high level, please.

Wanna bet?

5 posted on 10/26/2005 9:27:39 AM PDT by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: EveningStar

Here's the problem with this analysis. White people, with all their supposed advantages, were stuck in the flood, too.
The flood had nothing to do with race. There is no shame in being a victim of a flood.


6 posted on 10/26/2005 9:29:17 AM PDT by popdonnelly
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To: EveningStar

Good article.


7 posted on 10/26/2005 9:32:06 AM PDT by Arpege92 ("I am happy, be it yourselves." - Pope John Paul II)
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To: popdonnelly

"Beyond the human mess one expects to see"

We don't expect to see looting


8 posted on 10/26/2005 9:32:38 AM PDT by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: EveningStar

Interesting article, but I don't think that black people's feeling of inferiority and helplessness was a product of slavery. I grew up in the 1950's and my black friends - even though Jim Crow laws still existed - certainly did not feel inferior, and those who lived in places where there was no institutionalized racism felt that they were going to go places and do things.

The "Great Society" essentially put an end to this. Blacks could no longer be individuals, some of whom would do well and some of whom would not, but had to be a group, defined by the government as helpless, needy and an object of constant care and concern. It may have been well meant, but it was poison nonetheless.

Being regarded as nothing but one more member of a dysfunctional, needy client group is enough to undermine anyone's resolve. The remarkable thing is that some individual blacks have done as well as they have.


9 posted on 10/26/2005 9:32:43 AM PDT by livius
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To: popdonnelly

Steele also says this:

"The black shame of inferiority (the result of oppression, not genetics) cannot be overcome with anything less than a heroic assumption of responsibility on the part of black Americans. In fact, true equality--an actual parity of wealth and ability between the races--is now largely a black responsibility. This may not be fair, but historical fairness--of the sort that resolves history's injustices--is an idealism that now plagues black America by making black responsibility seem an injustice."


10 posted on 10/26/2005 9:36:03 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: edcoil

"We don't expect to see looting."

Especially by the cops. I'm still floored at the nerve of those two female police officers who kept on shopping knowing damn well the camera was recording everything.


11 posted on 10/26/2005 9:36:11 AM PDT by Arpege92 ("I am happy, be it yourselves." - Pope John Paul II)
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To: popdonnelly

Ping to post #10


12 posted on 10/26/2005 9:36:55 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar
BY the incessant drawing of attention TO RACE, we remain racists. We don't see others as simply human beings. When we stop the racist politics and see people as people, then racism won't be an issue.
13 posted on 10/26/2005 9:37:15 AM PDT by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: EveningStar

Steele has taken a big step.


14 posted on 10/26/2005 9:37:39 AM PDT by Reaganghost (Democrats are living proof that you can fool some of the people all of the time.)
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To: EveningStar; onyx; cyborg; Petronski

the problems we are having as a national people shall continue to prove intractible so long as:

1. for various reasons, people are not allowed to (carefully, specifically) note that there are indeed empirically verifiable problems, and...

2. the discussion is dominated by racism (old fashioned, plus reverse-racism, plus "the soft bigotry of low expectations"), tired old excuses for extortion, doggerel-spouting mo-tards, race-baiting politics, and PC social theory.

These problems are matters of culture, not genetics.
These problems are matters of culture, not material wealth or poverty.
These problems are a matter of culture, not history.


15 posted on 10/26/2005 9:40:11 AM PDT by King Prout (many accuse me of being overly literal... this would not be a problem if many were not under-precise)
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To: EveningStar
Let's keep this discussion on a high level, please.

You're not from around here, are you.

< |;)~

16 posted on 10/26/2005 9:40:21 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Revolting cat!

Whenever we discuss race here, there is always a chance that a few hyper vocal folks will post thoughtless comments of the top of their heads which will embarrass Free Republic and make the black FR members feel uncomfortable.


17 posted on 10/26/2005 9:40:21 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: Arpege92
I'm still floored at the nerve of those two female police officers who kept on shopping knowing damn well the camera was recording everything.

Their behavior speaks volumes about the culture of immunity and impunity that engulfs the N.O.P.D. It has been this way for a long time there.

18 posted on 10/26/2005 9:40:29 AM PDT by rogue yam
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To: EveningStar

Very good article--thanks for posting it.

To summarize Shelby Steele's thoughts--treating people first and foremost as INDIVIDUALS rather than members of ethnic, racial, national group is the key to the individual and social well being. We cannot choose our ethnicity, race, or national origin, but we all can choose responsibility for our lives and we all can choose not blame the rest of the world if we fail.


19 posted on 10/26/2005 9:40:34 AM PDT by sergey1973 (Russian American Political Blogger, Arm Chair Strategist)
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To: Arpege92

"...who kept on shopping..."

Shopping?


20 posted on 10/26/2005 9:40:42 AM PDT by baltodog (R.I.P. Balto: 2001(?) - 2005)
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To: nmh
BY the incessant drawing of attention TO RACE, we remain racists.

Well stated. The obsession with race in this country is sickening (see the idiotic thread here today about a barber who won't cut black hair.) I always say, it's the culture not the race!

21 posted on 10/26/2005 9:40:56 AM PDT by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: baltodog

"Shopping" is a euphemism for stealing, just as "getting paid" is a euphemism for robbing somebody. Shoplifting is also sometimes called the "five finger discount."


22 posted on 10/26/2005 9:42:47 AM PDT by livius
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To: edcoil

"We don't expect to see looting"

I have a thought on this, but am having difficulty putting it together concisely, so bear with me, here.

I have honestly begun to believe that the MSM, with their out of focus tunnel vision on so many things, collectively thought that focussing so heavily on mayhem, and painting a picture that only included black faces in the looting and shooting "mobs" during the aftermath of Katrina, was somehow an indictment of our society as a whole, as well as a "racist" southern state. It was meant to be a compelling cry for more state intervention, to show us all how bad we still were. It didn't quite come across that way, and now the MSM is suddenly reporting looting in the aftermath of every hurricane, in an attempt at rationalizing away the messy perception that they created themselves, unintentionally.

Does this make any sense at all?


23 posted on 10/26/2005 9:43:03 AM PDT by RegulatorCountry (Esse Quam Videre)
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To: martin_fierro

I am from around here. I was merely hoping that the irresponsible folks with diarrhea of the fingers would STFU for once.


24 posted on 10/26/2005 9:43:34 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: Revolting cat!
"I always say, it's the culture not the race!"

Absolutely right!

It appears we didn't have to read the article to figure that out.

God made all of us. There are good and bad in every conceivable color, shape and size.
25 posted on 10/26/2005 9:44:32 AM PDT by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: EveningStar

I kid, I kid. I kid because I love.


26 posted on 10/26/2005 9:44:34 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: martin_fierro

I know. :)


27 posted on 10/26/2005 9:45:15 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: baltodog

BTW, these phrases are used not only by blacks, but by people of any color who do this sort of thing. I've heard (white) college students talk about the five finger discount.


28 posted on 10/26/2005 9:45:30 AM PDT by livius
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To: Arpege92

I saw the tape........incredible!


29 posted on 10/26/2005 9:45:58 AM PDT by calrighty (Taglines for sale or let......1 liners 50 cents! C'mon troops, finish em off!!)
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To: popdonnelly
The issue is in owning the shame that comes from being where you are and owning it enough to make changes. Whites (not all) had a hand in keeping blacks down with segregation. Once that became unacceptable things started to change. What has happened here is that too many (not all mind you) blacks have relied upon white man/liberal guilt instead of taking responsibility for making their own way and we as a society have suffered. Think about how much further ahead America would be without all of the entitlement spending and instead with a strong black middle class with far less fatherless families and far less crime in the community.
30 posted on 10/26/2005 9:46:26 AM PDT by misterrob
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To: EveningStar

good luck with that, and I join you in that hope.


31 posted on 10/26/2005 9:46:46 AM PDT by King Prout (many accuse me of being overly literal... this would not be a problem if many were not under-precise)
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To: EveningStar
The politics of shame taken to an even higher level:

"We Have to Exterminate White People" -Dr. Kamau Kambon of Howard University

32 posted on 10/26/2005 9:47:39 AM PDT by TaxRelief ("Conservatives are cracking down!" -- Rush Limbaugh, October 13, 2005)
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To: EveningStar
Yep, one commentator we know said it took the people of Louisiana three days to turn their dome into a ghetto.

I think in all honesty they suffer the dependence they have achieved by relying on government and 40 plus years of believing the Democrat party.

I really wish them well, but if all they have is their hate of other races as an excuse and the Democrat party as their mentors, they are doomed.

They need to change, not the whole rest of the productive world and that is the bottom line whether you want to hear it or not.

Those that get away from the dependency culture thrive like anyone else in America, so this really isn't a race issue, it is a culture issue IMO.

They are the result of their own lack of effort.

33 posted on 10/26/2005 9:47:56 AM PDT by A CA Guy (God Bless America, God bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
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To: All

Another great quote by Steele from the article:

"President Johnson's famous Howard University speech, which launched the Great Society in 1965, outlined this balance of power by explicitly spelling out white responsibility without a single reference to black responsibility. In the 40 years since that speech no American president has dared correct this oversight."

The harm that the Great Society has wielded on people in general and blacks in particular cannot be understated.


34 posted on 10/26/2005 9:48:36 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: baltodog

Well....looting! ;-}


35 posted on 10/26/2005 9:49:48 AM PDT by Arpege92 ("I am happy, be it yourselves." - Pope John Paul II)
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To: EveningStar; All
It was not just blacks that did things to merit shame...

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

36 posted on 10/26/2005 9:49:56 AM PDT by WilliamWallace1999
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To: EveningStar

<< Let's keep this discussion on a high level, please. >>

The cost of the positive disencentive to taking responsiblity for oneself, also known as the "Great Society," is up around Ten Trillion Dollars.

That high enough for you?

And God alone knows how many more Billions of creative and innovative and productive and industrious Americans' confiscated Dollars in white and black hands have been cynically blown on turning Louisianna's black and white indolent into effectively-hopeless and helpless state and city dependants.

On buying their votes.


37 posted on 10/26/2005 9:50:00 AM PDT by Brian Allen (Patriotic [Immigrant] AMERICAN-American by choice - Christian and Aviator by Grace)
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To: EveningStar

How's this for a high level...

I was recently charged with being a racist by my coworker because my coworker(who happens to be black) overheard my desktop radio at very low volume levels I might add)and got offended becuase I happened to be listening to Sean Hannity on WABC AM radio. Sean was talking about the "Millions More" march and had on various black leaders as guests. My coworker, made the charge with my boss, went to HR even blew up and made a scene in the office at me in front of all of my coworkers, gossiped about it to the rest of the office and even harrassed me in our breakroom. All becuase she blamed her offense at me as if I control her actions and emotions.

Dispite the treachery I was recieving, I did the right thing, kept my mouth shut, documented the entire transgression and didn't speak a word of it to anyone except my boss.

After all was said and done, she wasn't reprimanded either verbally or written becuase she was black and had the race card in her pocket. Had the roles been reversed, as a white male, you betcha I would have been fired.

The only satisfaction I recieved was knowing that her own actions and words, despite how illogical and irrational, are perpetuating the culture of 'low expectations' so prevalent in the black community. The saddest part is that she is completely oblivious to the fact that her own actions were racist and bigoted, that she is the only one accountable for her own actions and words (not me), and that it is her own personal issue and perogative over what offends her (not mine).

Liberals indeed have a some sort of mental disorder, race and skin color aside.



38 posted on 10/26/2005 9:50:51 AM PDT by Frenetic
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To: kipita
"Rosa Park's generation would have taken responsibility for themselves, their family and their neighbors."

Couldn't have said it better myself.
I am a white male. If I need something or I want something for me or my family, I have to get it myself. The gummit never crosses my mind. If my family needs help, I do it. I find a way to do it myself. It is called responsibility. It is called self worth and dignity.
The generation of Rosa Parks fought and worked hard and even died for what they believed in to better themselves. The generation of today lives off the government and passes down the welfare checks for the next generation to mooch. No pride, no dignity, just a free ride.
39 posted on 10/26/2005 9:52:16 AM PDT by HOTTIEBOY (Maybe in your house. Not in mine.)
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To: livius

See post 34.


40 posted on 10/26/2005 9:52:18 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar
True, but sometimes merely by sharing our life experiences get us into trouble as well. You may not mean to offend people, but someone will always get offended. In my case, I tend to offend folks on the religion threads without intending to, but the effect is the same.

People have historically segregated themselves by cultures, subcultures and religion. A major difference in this country is that, whatever the ethnic group, the second generation at least picks up a working knowledge of English and takes up a love of football, hotdogs, and discount shopping at big box stores. In a sense we have a shared culture, on the other hand we don't. No offense to my Southern friends, or my Califonicator friends, but this New Yorker experiences culture shock even when among WHITE folk in those areas.

41 posted on 10/26/2005 9:53:02 AM PDT by Clemenza (Gentlemen, Behold!)
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To: baltodog

"Undocumented shopping".


42 posted on 10/26/2005 9:54:13 AM PDT by sheik yerbouty ( Make America and the world a jihad free zone!)
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To: popdonnelly; All

He really isnt talking about the flood except that it exposed a problem in the black community.

In a microsm (sp) I saw a minority woman in Houston who had gotten government housing there. She promptly declared "This is how the rich people live, I am not going back to New Orleans when I can get more here".

Its an entitlement mentality that allows generations of New Orleans lower income people to remain in public housing and subsist mainly on welfare. I see the problem coming that a lot of lower income housing was destroyed along with large middle class, white communities (St Bernard). When they rebuild they are not going to rebuild older shotgun houses that lower income people could afford. Instead they will build better larger homes that will affect the demographics here in New Orleans.

Already the need is so desperate for workers that Burger Kings are offering 8 dollars an hour and $500 a month for a year as a bonus. Thats a $6,000 bonus to work at Burger King. Target is begging for workers offering $12.25 an hour. Its insane. You see more signs offering work at rates substantially above minimum wage than you do hurricane cleanup signs!

The problem here is that the lower income classes are living high on the hog right now with the FEMA, Red Cross, private moneys. You get $2000 initially, then $2300 every three months for living expenses from FEMA. The state governments, subsidized by the feds are giving food stamps out like Halloween candy. Red Cross is handing out cash. Lower income people with the entitlement mentality see no reason to go out and work and lose out on all the free cash.

Anecdotally, friends who own businesses have actually gotten phone calls from employees saying they were not returning because they did not need the job right now!

Sorry to get so long winded, but this is a discussion we have in our office right now. In fact some of our lower paid operators (computer) could make more money at Target and dont need the college they have!


43 posted on 10/26/2005 9:54:40 AM PDT by USAFJeeper
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To: EveningStar
This is understandable given the unforgiving pas de deux of mutual witness between blacks and whites in which each race prepares a face for the other and seizes on the other's weaknesses with ravenous delight.

This line he wrote is pushing it. Really a bit of crap.

It's in no way shape or form my fault regarding what happened to anyone in New Orleans. Whether they be black or white. It was a huge natural disaster. I have absolutely no guilt about it nor have I given much thought to the complexion of the people hurt. Only that they were Americans and needed some help. And I helped.

With that said it's indeed an absurd, asinine, insane and stupid idea to build a city in a large hole surrounded by water. So why do it again?

If the subject is poor black folk in New Orleans and the conversation is about their plight in life if finger pointing is demanded I can only say that the "work ethic" I see in many people was lacking. Lacking not because these people are black but because they were stuck in a corner. The old "don't give a man a fish teach him how to fish" adage applies. But instead the politicians in Louisiana didn't construct a system that promoted business growth in poor communities they just pretty much sat there until election time.

We have very successful people of all colors and we have people without much of all colors. Generally, all those folks have the opportunity to succeed in this country if they want to. They just have to have the desire. I'm not stopping them from doing what they want to. Are you?

If we need to do something that helps poor folks let's give them a way to make their own money. Let's pass the Fair Tax Plan and let business explode. As it is now the tax system is racist from what I can see.

44 posted on 10/26/2005 9:56:26 AM PDT by isthisnickcool (Get the incumbents out of politics!)
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To: nmh
But like everything, it's easier said than done. When the culture around us says it's the race that identifies you, and conventional wisdom affirms it, it near damn impossible to resist it. We know for example, that Tiger Woods does not identify with the ghetto culture and we suspect that Condi Rice doesn't either. And yet, here some black FReepers take offense whenever someone points out some of the pathology of that culture, because (I think) they, like most in this country, don't make a distinction between culture and race.
45 posted on 10/26/2005 9:56:33 AM PDT by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: EveningStar

" The generation of today lives off the government and passes down the welfare checks for the next generation to mooch."

This is not true of all; too many, but a long way from all. Broad generalizations are going to be offensive. Do you like to be on the receiving end of a broad, negative generalization? I don't, particularly if it doesn't apply.


46 posted on 10/26/2005 9:57:48 AM PDT by RegulatorCountry (Esse Quam Videre)
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To: King Prout

I wish I'd been more exacting in my excerpting from the article. All too many folks at FR are too lazy or too paranoid to click on links. They read only the posted excerpts and go off on irrelevant tangents.


47 posted on 10/26/2005 9:58:09 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: nmh
BY the incessant drawing of attention TO RACE, we remain racists. We don't see others as simply human beings. When we stop the racist politics and see people as people, then racism won't be an issue.

Bears repeating.

48 posted on 10/26/2005 10:01:28 AM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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To: misterrob

"What has happened here is that too many (not all mind you) blacks have relied upon white man/liberal guilt instead of taking responsibility for making their own way and we as a society have suffered."

I wish the fine folks of FR could see my neighborhood. On my street alone, ten black families reside, nine white families reside, and one Asian family reside. It's an upper middle class neighborhood and those with the biggest houses are the black families. My point is that the "too many" is shrinking and I wouldn't have realized this had I not lived in this neighborhood.


49 posted on 10/26/2005 10:01:29 AM PDT by Arpege92 ("I am happy, be it yourselves." - Pope John Paul II)
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To: isthisnickcool

With that said it's indeed an absurd, asinine, insane and stupid idea to build a city in a large hole surrounded by water. So why do it again?




I assume this is ignorance speaking? I dont have to enumerate the importance of the port to United States as a whole? The oil industry? Seafood? I know you typed that tongue in cheek. You forgot to put the /sarcasm mark I think.


50 posted on 10/26/2005 10:02:09 AM PDT by USAFJeeper
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