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Don't Blame 'The Man'

By Doug Taylor · March 18th, 2009 · Living Out Loud

I was watching some TV news channel or the other last week, and they were talking about what desperate straits we’re in as far as unemployment.

There’s no question the shit has hit the fan and many people are in a dire position that no one could have contemplated only a few months ago. Life sucks for a lot of us.

What bothered me about the news report was that the story broke the misery into categories of white versus black versus Hispanic. Turns out that African Americans, by percentage, were in worse shape versus the other categories.

To someone who wants to spin the numbers, it could well appear that The Man is responsible for a higher percentage of blacks being hit by the economic downturn than others. The Man is subliminally known to be an old white guy in a suit and tie sitting in a leather chair and deciding which black person should get laid off that day.

Nothing could be more incorrect. This economic problem is affecting everyone without regard to ethnicity, age or gender.

The city of Cincinnati and Hamilton Country have made tremendous strides in recent years. Cincinnati has an African-American mayor, African- American city manager, African-American fire chief and numerous non-white people in management roles. We even have a man of vertically challenged height (although he’s white) as police chief.

We have a black President, had a black Secretary of State and encounter a multitude of black people in positions of high leadership and responsibility every day. In my mind, this is the way it should be.

We should hire and elect people based on ability and competency, not because they look like or different from George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or Jimmy Carter or Al Sharpton. You should get your job because you’re a good match, not because you have some physical characteristic or gender-specific attribute that makes you special or unique.

The United States has, since its inception, been a melting pot of cultures.

We just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, a day when everyone is Irish. The parade that marched through our downtown streets March 14 had people of all cultures, colors and genders. The participants wanted to be part of a grand celebration of historic culture, history and service to our community and country.

Fat Tuesday was recently celebrated, the last day for Roman Catholics (and everyone else) to frolic before the solemn days of Lent. It was a day many people of various religions and traditions observed in various forms of festiveness.

Americans celebrate many holidays because as a people we enjoy having a good time and, when allowed, we cross over into others’ “territory” and partake in the party. And we should. We deserve to enjoy our origins, our history and our neighbors and fellow citizens.

And then the media break down the situations that affect each and every one of us into racial and ethnic divides, and we’re set against each other again.

There are millions of people hurting right now, black and white, male and female, gay and straight, blonde and dread-locked, old and young, short and tall, and every definition. Stop turning us against each other. We must stop playing the race, ethnic and gender cards.

When push comes to shove, few of us will question from where help comes.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to give several gallons of blood during my life. It’s a pain in the arm, but not debilitating. It’s something I can do, and I don’t question who’s going to receive my donations.

I’ve also been the recipient of blood because of various illnesses and surgery. I never questioned from where my blood came.

You do what you can do to help others. We must do that in whatever way we can now.

If you don’t have a job, you have time. Donate it to someone — a neighbor, a church or a senior center. Sitting and feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of talent.

In order for us to take the next step as a community and country, we can no longer make divisions based on shade of skin. No more “black this” and “white that” unless it’s pertinent to the news story.

Let’s start doing the reporting based on who’s a high school graduate, a college graduate, a master’s degree holder or a Ph.D. Why not break down the numbers based on how many kids are in the household, who’s on public assistance and who lives in Section 8 housing?

The reality of our current situation isn’t based on color. In fact, it isn’t based on education or life experiences so much as being in the right place at the wrong time.

We need to move past blaming color of skin, gender, sexual orientation or whether we’re left- or right-handed as the main reason for our difficulties. We’re all victims of a difficult situation.

Stand up tall enough so your feet hit the ground, look the situation dead in the eye and move forward. We’re not necessarily responsible for the place we find ourselves, but we are responsible for taking the next step forward.

Black, white, brown, yellow, male, female, young, old or short: Buck up and don’t blame the alleged Man. Be responsible for yourself.

CONTACT DOUG TAYLOR: letters@citybeat.com



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