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DON'T LET CLINTON CRISIS DERAIL OUR RACIAL DIALOGUE.



Byline: Gary Phillips Gary Phillips may refer to:
  • Gary Phillips (basketball)
  • Gary Phillips (footballer)
 

LOCAL VIEW

BEYOND the fallout from the White House sex scandal that might hurt Democrats in highly contested seats this November, another matter related to the beleaguered be·lea·guer  
tr.v. be·lea·guered, be·lea·guer·ing, be·lea·guers
1. To harass; beset: We are beleaguered by problems.

2. To surround with troops; besiege.
 President Clinton will also suffer. His initiative on race was to have been his legacy, the one bright and shining, untainted jewel in an otherwise dented and tarnished crown.

The recent consternation arising from the ``Million Youth March'' in Harlem, sponsored by the racist Khalid Muhammad, and the Labor Day Labor Day, holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada on the first Monday in September to honor the laborer. It was inaugurated by the Knights of Labor in 1882 and made a national holiday by the U.S. Congress in 1894.  racist float made by Queens volunteer firefighters - complete with a cruel parody of a black man being dragged behind the float's platform - say only too much about the continuing gulf of misunderstanding and intolerance among the races.

Clinton began the initiative in June 1997 with bold and farsighted far·sight·ed or far-sight·ed
adj.
1. Able to see distant objects better than objects at close range; hyperopic.

2. Capable of seeing to a great distance.
 words delivered at the University of California, San Diego UCSD is consistently ranked among the top ten public universities for undergraduate education in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.[3] It is a Public Ivy. [1] For graduate studies, most of UCSD's Ph.D. . He wanted to engage this country in a yearlong conversation and journey about race and racism.

And more than that, he talked about identifying and developing policies and solutions in critical areas such as education, economic opportunity, housing, health care, crime and the administration of justice. As events from the slaying of Ennis Cosby in Los Angeles to the brutal killing in rural Jasper, Texas, have shown, this journey of discovery and resolution still needs to happen. America cannot afford to ignore it.

We must begin to give true meaning to terms like ``multiculturalism,'' ``working toward diversity'' and ``building bridges.'' Too many times, when you ask any average working person what these concepts mean to him or her, and if you are not laughed at, invariably in·var·i·a·ble  
adj.
Not changing or subject to change; constant.



in·vari·a·bil
 the response is in a facile, superficial manner. These responses reflect the failure of us who believe in these ideas to successfully translate such notions in a real and tangible way.

Multiculturalism is about constructing projects that explicitly are designed to have people of various races and cultures come together to alter the relations of power, to organize for social and political change, not merely to have us hand-clapping and singing together. Multiculturalism is about having conversational Spanish-language classes for African-American residents in Washington Heights, and black history in Spanish for new immigrants in Idaho.

It is about integrating all our histories into the texts taught in schools, not merely relegating such facts to the intellectual ghettos of ethnic studies. Working toward diversity after Proposition 209, the anti-affirmative action measure that passed in California and in a new form is being touted by its backers as Proposition 5 in Oregon for the fall ballot, doesn't mean that whites need to be made to feel guilty about the lingering effects of slavery.

Let's take those conservatives who say they want a colorblind col·or·blind or col·or-blind
adj.
Partially or totally unable to distinguish certain colors.
 society at their word. Let's use economic disadvantage as the factor for determining certain slots in the University of California The University of California has a combined student body of more than 191,000 students, over 1,340,000 living alumni, and a combined systemwide and campus endowment of just over $7.3 billion (8th largest in the United States).  system or in public hiring. But to do so would be to admit that class distinctions do exist in this country, and thus the conservative right always backtracks when attempts are made to account for creating economic equity in this society.

And if we build bridges, they must not be yellow-brick roads to an Emerald City where we pull back the curtain to reveal the sham. These bridges must lead us on a better path. People can and do come together around common issues such as making public school bureaucracies accountable or how do we not criminalize crim·i·nal·ize  
tr.v. crim·i·nal·ized, crim·i·nal·iz·ing, crim·i·nal·iz·es
1. To impose a criminal penalty on or for; outlaw.

2. To treat as a criminal.
 our youths yet institute true public safety measures safety measures,
n.pl actions (e.g., use of glasses, face masks) taken to protect patients and office personnel from such known hazards as particles and aerosols from high-speed rotary instruments, mercury vapor, radiation exposure, anesthetic and
. We must replicate these examples a thousandfold.

These are not tasks completed overnight. They require not only our commitment, but public and private institutions to support and nurture such efforts. And we must hold our politicians' feet to the fire to put resources toward this work on race relations and rightly reprimand REPRIMAND, punishment. The censure which in some cases a public office pronounces against an offender.
     2. This species of punishment is used by legislative bodies to punish their members or others who have been guilty of some impropriety of conduct towards them.
 them should they find it convenient to play the race card or provide mere lip service.

Clinton was right when he stated: ``Honest dialogue will not be easy at first. We'll all have to get past defensiveness and fear and political correctness and other barriers to honesty.''

It's just too bad he will not be remembered as an architect of bridge-building, but rather an architect of his own destruction.
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 17, 1998
Words:690
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