Black & White and Red All Over

January18/ 2012

Our local McClatchy newspaper editor asked me to represent “white folks” in a dialogue with “a local black guy”. The subject – “How come we can’t all get along”. It seemed like a good idea. I suppose it was.

After six months of lunches we agreed that (1) we both prefer the company of white women; and (2) neither of us much likes the local newspaper.

The premise was fascinating. Two men the same age who grew up as teenagers in North Carolina in the mid 60s at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. One white – one black. 40+ years later what conclusions did we have about it all?

We had met as anonymous combatants on the News&Observer’s reader comment forums. Our community was “on fire” over the local school board elections. Nothing unique about that – every community in America is “on fire” about public education.

Conservative families who have not already deserted the wasteland of public education for private / “faith-based” alternatives, think they are entitled to a voice in how their tax dollars are allocated. Lib/Democs, of course, don’t believe they (Conservs) should have any say-so at all. Sound like your community?

Our community had just elected a Republican majority to its county-wide school board. So, of course, the Dems were having a hizzy fit. Dems always have “hizzy fits” when they are unable to rig elections in their favor. The demographics of our prosperous county are considerably different than Southside Chicago. That likely contributed to the results.

When Lib/Dems lose an election they romp and stomp and send out hot-bloodied orators to rant and rage about social injustices. The floundering fishwraps, especially those run out of Sacramento, assign a team of ink-stained ideologues to record each/every rant and rage and report them as if they were somehow legitimate. Sound familiar?

Contrary to popular belief, modern-day newspaper publishers ARE primarily interested in “selling papers”. More papers sold = higher advertising demand = greater profits. I should modify “greater profits” to read “diminished losses”. The last time a newspaper conglomerate saw “a profit”, the Internet only existed in Sci-Fi novels and the Kardashians were virgins. Yes it has been a long time!

Desperate publishers are convinced that cowtowing to each/every angry liberal faction on every issue will result in more sales. Ergo, subscriptions and ad sales are falling faster than oak leaves in October, and have been for quite some time.

Recall that old joke: What’s black and white and “read” all over? Newspapers… are still black and white and now RED all over as in “red ink”.

Ahhh, the power of free markets. Given alternatives, consumers gravitate to the best providers of goods and services. When “dead tree journalism” lost its monopoly as “print media”, it lost its ability to print money for its publishers. Now in order to keep publishers in the lifestyle they prefer, they chop chop chop the staffs and resources in their newsrooms. Newspapers are now thinner than a hobo’s shoe soles……. I digress.

That black guy and I met 8-10 times for chats over lunch. From a prominent black family, he inherited the family business. He was “a leader” in the local black community. Not as prominent as he wanted me to believe, but a well-known activist and pot-stirrer. Me? I’m just a white guy with a couple of websites who has an insatiable curiosity about human behavior….. and 1,000s of devoted disciples. 🙂

He told me early on that Jesse Jackson is “a hoodlum”. He had known Jesse for quite some time having worked on several of Jesse’s extortion campaigns. I found optimism in our shared views on Rev Jesse.

Growing up in the pre-CRA small town South in the early 60s, I saw first-hand the separate and very unequal conditions that existed between the races. It didn’t seem right to me. Pretty perceptive, huh?

At meeting 3 or 4 I asked him:

“Looking back over the past 40 years, acknowledging that “race” is still very much a divisive issue in America, what would you have done differently to produce better results?”

He thought for a few minutes. Apparently he had never contemplated that ??? He said “I really don’t know.” Then he launched into his usual invective-laced rant how much he despises every prominent Conservative on the local, state and national scene.

I know most of the local Conservative leaders in our community. I asked him if he had ever met them in person to hear first hand what they thought about “the issues”. He said “No” he had never met them. I offered to arrange a meeting. He said that was unnecessary – “I know what they are all about.” My earlier optimism faded.

From that point on – sigh – I realized all that was going to emerge from this exercise was a few interesting columns. Hopefully this has been one such.

We had gentlemanly agreed to take turns “picking up the check” for our lunches. After he conveniently “forgot my wallet” three times in a row, the price of a few interesting columns had gotten too steep.

My strategy when conversing with hot-bloodied liberals, of any color, is to let them spew and bloviate. Thus achieving several goals: (1) my quiet acquiescence is perceived as intellectual curiosity….. (2) ergo, they think I’m at least in their ballpark intellectually…. and, most importantly:

….. (3) I get to enjoy my soup while its still warm …..

Happy MLK Day, y’all.

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