O Tempora, O Mores! (November, 2003)

American Renaissance, November 2003

Cashing In

The 70,000 mostly black and Hispanic residents of Lynwood, California, earn on average just $9,500 per year, making their town one of the poorest in sprawling Los Angeles County. Some of its part-time city councilmen, however, are among the best-paid politicians in California. Though the job officially pays $9,600 per year, Councilmen Louis Byrd and Paul Richards — both black — and Arturo Reyes each made over $100,000 last year. They padded their salaries by serving on city agencies, for which they received $900 per meeting, and were paid to “represent” Lynwood at parades, sporting events and other functions. “We earned every penny of it,” insists Mr. Byrd.

The five-member council is not required to show receipts for city credit card purchases, nor does it have to get approval for out-of-town travel. Not surprisingly, in the last six years, the council has cost Lynwood taxpayers more than $600,000 in travel and credit card bills. Since 1998, Mr. Byrd has cost the city $75,000, including $1,300 he charged to attend the reunion of his black college fraternity. Mr. Richards has billed taxpayers $80,000 since 1998. He spent $3,000 to stay in upscale hotels near his home, and $14,000 on rental cars (on top of his $500-a-month car allowance). The city also paid for his stay at a beach resort in Ghana to “foster trade and cultural ties.” Between them, Mr. Richards and Mr. Byrd have made more than 90 out-of-town trips — 25 in just the last two years. Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, who governs the nation’s second largest city, made just nine out-of-town trips in the last two years.

Arturo Reyes billed the city for a trip to Mexico City to attend the inauguration of Vicente Fox, and also charged $1,152 in airline tickets for his wife. He says he reimbursed the city, but has no proof. Former council member Ricardo Sanchez went to Guadalajara in 1999 to attend a mariachi festival. Other city councilmen have traveled to Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on the city tab.

Lynwood’s mayor, Fernando Pedroza, was a harsh critic of council spending when he ran for office in 2001, but quickly rose above his scruples. He quit his day job, and has traveled at least seven times to Mexico. When asked about charging the city for a dinner show featuring samba dancers in Rio de Janeiro, he said he “inadvertently pulled out the wrong card” — but did belatedly reimburse the city.

Lynwoodians who know about the city council’s high life don’t want to clean up the system — they want to cash in. No fewer than 16 people are running for two seats in November. As Mr. Byrd, a 12-year council veteran who helped establish the Lynwood kleptocracy, puts it, “A whole lot of people are running for the same thing, and none are going to turn anything down.” [Richard Marosi, Lynwood Council Members Enjoy Lavish Perks and Pay, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 15, 2003.]

Nyborg Speaks

Helmuth Nyborg, a prominent scientist at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, has set the country on its ear by pointing out the obvious: “Between 10 and 20 percent of the population, who are at the lower echelon of society and who cannot fill in a time sheet at work or who cannot hold down a job or take care of their children, should not have children. The debate has to be raised now because the trend is cause for concern in Denmark, where we have an increasing number of problem kids.” He says intelligent women should have their workloads reduced so they can devote more time to child-rearing and that unintelligent women should be paid not to have children. “We are all aware of this problem, but we don’t dare talk about it,” he says. “But we should, for the sake of society and the future, so that we can have productive citizens and not people who need help.” [Outcry Over Call to Curb Low IQ Children, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Sept. 30, 2003.]

Reality of Race

Medical researchers have long known that blacks and whites differ in their susceptibility to certain diseases and in responses to some medications. For example, black women are more likely than white women to get aggressive forms of breast cancer, are three to four times more likely to get lupus, and are up to nine times more likely to develop uterine fibroids. Blacks suffer from heart disease, diabetes and asthma at rates much higher than whites, and are 60 percent more likely to be obese.

Beta blockers, used to treat hypertension, appear to lower blood pressure for three in five whites, but only two in five blacks. Tamoxifen seems to work less well for black than white women in preventing the recurrence of breast cancer. NitroMed, a heart medication, seems to work for blacks but not whites, so the company that makes it is conducting clinical trials using only blacks.

Historically-black Howard University’s medical school will spend the next five years creating a “biobank” to store the DNA of 25,000 blacks, which it will study to help determine the genetic links between race and disease. Howard hopes the National Institutes of Health will pay for much of the $18 million project, called GRAD (Genomic Research in the African Diaspora), as part of the federal government’s commitment to eliminate racial disparities in disease rates by 2010. [Melissa Healy, The Race Factor, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 8, 2003.]

Flag Flap

The football team of Southern High School in rural, downstate Stronghurst, Illinois, is called the Rebels. After each touchdown, its mascot — dressed as a Confederate soldier — runs through the end zone waving a battle flag. It adopted the Confederate mascot in response to a rival school’s use of a Union soldier.

On Sept. 13, Southern was scheduled to play the Longwood campus of the Chicago International Charter School, a nearly all-black high school from the South Side of Chicago. Early that week, Southern coach Scott Dillard called his Longwood counterpart, Bill Ham, to ask him if the ritual would bother his team. Coach Ham, who is white, says he was horrified by the custom, as were his players. “They kind of looked at me, and a few had their mouths open. This can’t really be true,” he says. Acceding to the wishes of his players, Coach Ham forfeited the game, even after Coach Dillard told him the school would not use the flag. Coach Ham says he was afraid Southern supporters would make racist comments to his team.

Chances are Southern will have to give up the flag and the mascot. Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Executive Director Marty Hickman condemned the school and applauded Longwood’s decision to forfeit. He says the IHSA is considering punishing Southern. Coaches from other predominantly black schools that play Southern are piling on, saying they will demand Southern ban the flag. [Barry Temkin, Confederate Flag Leads to Prep Football Game Forfeit, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 13, 2003.]

Life Under Mugabe

A white Zimbabwean farmer reports on what used to be his land:

On our occupied farm, the borehole has been destroyed so there’s no piped water any more. The solar water panels and tanks have been stolen and the huge water reservoir stands permanently empty. Most of the huge gum tree plantations have been felled for firewood. The dairy no longer sees cows with udders heavy with milk, but only lines of clothes hung up to dry on the milking stalls. The tobacco barns are derelict: doors, flues, furnace covers and bricks are being stolen. A handful of huts are dotted in the fields and next to them stand little patches of scraggly, yellowing maize plants which may feed a family for a few weeks at the most. The people there are hungry, the children beg from the kitchens of a nearby boarding school, and the adults queue up for World Food maize, beans and oil. In the main, the 1,000 acres of our farm is a neglected wasteland, the fields empty except for a few painfully thin cattle which are never dipped, dewormed, or de-horned.

Over the road, on what was only one year ago a thriving beef and chicken producing farm, there is absolutely nothing going on. A local village chief has moved into the once-beautiful house and there he lives entirely alone. He has not held out his hand to his fellow villagers, nor does he allow the villagers to graze their cattle there. Nothing whatsoever is being grown or produced on the land and slowly the bush is reclaiming the cattle dip and chicken runs.

These two farms employed two dozen people, and produced milk, timber, beef, lamb, wool, chickens, eggs, fruit and vegetables for the town of Marandera and paid out millions of dollars in telephone and electricity charges, road rates, drought and Aids levies, stock feed and farming equipment. Now, nothing is produced for sale, no one gainfully employed, nothing comes onto or goes off the farms, and there is no more running water. [A Day in the Life . . ., Impact Magazine (South Africa), August/September 2003, p. 5.]

The collapse of agriculture has virtually destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy. Four million people — one third of the population — are on the brink of starvation in what was once a major food exporter. Seventy percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed, and inflation is officially running at 365 percent per year. With black market price gouging, the actual rate is closer to 700 percent. The government can’t print enough money to keep up with rising prices, and blames the cash shortage on hoarding. [Angus Shaw, Currency Shortage Latest Crisis to Hit Zimbabwe, AP, July 31, 2003.]

People are so poor they cannot afford to bury dead relatives. With more than 5,000 people a week dying of AIDS, and a rising overall mortality rate, Zimbabwe has no place to put the corpses. The morgue at Harare Central Hospital was designed for 164 corpses; it now holds nearly 600, with bodies piled on top of each other everywhere. Cremation would help, but Harare’s one crematorium ran out of fuel for its furnaces last June. [Angus Shaw, Full Morgues Reflect Zimbabwe’s Plight, AP, Aug. 10, 2003.]

Man’s Best Entrée

Unlike many of their countrymen and Asian neighbors, the citizens of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, frown on eating dogs. Until recently, diners had to ask quietly for “special meat” or “jogging cow” in restaurants. Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema thinks a change in diet would solve the city’s burgeoning stray dog problem. “Come on, dog meat is so delicious,” he says. “The Vietnamese and Koreans love to eat dog meat.” Cambodians, he adds, “don’t have wine, but poor people can enjoy their dog meat with palm juice wine.” [Eat More Dogs, Cambodians Urged, Reuters, Sept. 13, 2003.]

Religious Diversity

We reprint the following news item:

DENVER — A federal appeals court has decided that a New Mexico church’s use of hallucinogenic tea is likely to be protected under freedom of religion laws.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a preliminary injunction against the US attorney general, Drug Enforcement Administration, and other government agencies that sought to prohibit use of hoasca tea by Brazil’s O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal church, whose US operations are based in Santa Fe, N.M.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court that the church has shown substantial likelihood of success in winning exemption for sacramental use of the tea, which contains a drug from plants found in the Amazon River basin and barred by the Controlled Substances Act.

[Hallucinogenic Tea May Get Religious Exemption, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 13, 2003.]

Loose Lips

In Rochester, New York, during a broadcast, WHAM radio talk show host Bob Lonsberry compared Mayor William Johnson, who is black, to an orangutan. Mr. Lonsberry isn’t being fired but may wish he had been. He was suspended from broadcasting for a week, had to apologize publicly, and must undergo “diversity training.” [Lonsberry to Take Training, Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester), Sept. 26, 2003, p.1B.]

The Right Approach

Israel has an estimated 300,000 foreign workers — mostly from China, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Romania, and Africa — only a third of whom have work permits. With the country in a three-year recession and unemployment at 10.6 percent, the government wants them out. Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Ehud Olmert says, “The damage caused by foreign workers to the Israeli economy is greater than any other damage,” and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls them a “cancer.” The government is serious. It has started raiding the homes of people who hire illegal foreign household help — and broadcasting the raids on television.

Illegals are getting the message: 60,000 have voluntarily left Israel during the year, far more than the 17,000 who have been deported. “Our target till the end of the year is to have 80,000 leave,” says spokesman Rafi Yaffa. The government of Ariel Sharon is ignoring protests from “human rights” groups, and fines people who knowingly hire illegals. [Tova Cohen, Recession-Hit Israel Expelling Foreign Workers, Reuters, Sept. 16, 2003.]

‘Great White Hope’

Last year, Sandy Trammel, who is white, taught fourth grade at overwhelmingly black West Riviera Elementary School in Riviera Beach, Florida. West Riviera’s scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test were so bad the school was rated “F.” Mrs. Trammel’s class was typical: Of her 20 students, only three read at grade level and four couldn’t read at all. During the year, Mrs. Trammel’s students improved so dramatically she won $10,000 for helping West Riviera move from “F” to “C.” The school district made her a “peer assistance teacher,” who was to help colleagues improve their teaching. The Palm Beach Post featured Mrs. Trammel in a big story in June.

Blacks didn’t like the hoopla. As a former West Riviera student wrote in a letter to the Post, they thought the story “painted a picture of the ‘Great White Hope’ coming to save poor dumb black children.”

Mrs. Trammel’s first peer teaching assignment was to be in another black Riviera Beach school, but when she showed up in September, Principal Beverlyann Barton, who is black, told her to go away. Miss Barton insists the problem was not with Mrs. Trammel, but with the three-month-old Palm Beach Post story about her. “The article about West Riviera framed the city in a negative light,” she says, adding that because of her portrayal in the article, Mrs. Trammel would poison the school environment, and the other teachers would not be able to work with her. [Mary Ellen Flannery and Kimberly Miller, Riviera School Turns Teaching Coach Away, Palm Beach Post, Sept. 13, 2003.]

Healthy Reaction

The town of Cayce, South Carolina, is a working-class suburb of Columbia. It is 75 percent white, 23 percent black, has a strong religious community, little crime, and a low cost of living. It’s just the sort of place Richard Robinson, a Baptist preacher and refugee coordinator, thinks would be perfect for the 120 Somali Bantus scheduled to begin arriving in South Carolina this fall.

He settled on Cayce’s Pinewood apartment complex, where a two-bedroom unit rents for $399 a month, and then informed the locals. A school district official, Ann Malpass, began circulating a flyer in which she accurately described the Somalis as “a primitive, tribal people” and encouraged residents to attend a city council meeting to discuss resettlement. More than 250 showed up, and applauded when the mayor, city council members and the local state senators all said they opposed resettlement. The people of Cayce say Somalis will consume social services and burden their schools. They worry the Somalis will bring diseases and tribal customs, including female mutilation. Rev. Robinson was aghast. “It was like a lynch mob,” he says.

Rev. Robinson agreed to cut the number of Somalis by half after school officials pointed out they already have 200 Hispanic students who can barely read, and do not want any more illiterates. “I still think 60 [Somalis] is too many,” says Mayor Avery Wilkerson, but he can’t keep them out. He says the city will keep an eye on the Pinewood apartments to make sure occupancy restrictions are observed. Rev. Robinson says he hopes the town will eventually realize what a wonderful thing it is to live with Somalis. “This is an opportunity,” he says. “A calling.” [Peter St. Onge, No Welcome Mat in Sight, Charlotte Observer, Aug. 3, 2003, p. 1A.]

Missing the Point

Governor Gray Davis of California, who may well be out of a job by press time, has come in for considerable media scrutiny. The New York Times recently drew attention to the following line he delivered at a public appearance: “My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state.” It was only the verbal bungling at the end of the sentence that interested the Times. The criminal bungling of destroying a successful European society went unremarked. [Dean E. Murphy, Twists and Turns of Recall Leave Voters Fatigued, New York Times, Sept. 21, 2003.]

Darkness in DC

The federal government uses a skill level/pay grade system to classify civil service employees. For example, GS-03 workers typically perform clerical duties, while GS-07 positions are considered “professional,” and generally require a college degree. The GS-9 and above ratings usually require considerable experience and/or an advanced degree. The highest civil service rating, GS-15, is for top-level management bureaucrats.

An AR reader who works for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Hearing and Appeals, headquartered in Washington, DC, recently filed a Freedom of Information Request, asking for the racial breakdown by pay grade in his office. Here are the results:

Government Pay in Black and White

Whites outnumber blacks only at the highest grades, and this is not likely to last much longer. It is, of course, prima-facie evidence of discrimination, and as senior-level whites retire, blacks will replace them. [Response to Freedom of Information Request, Social Security Administration, August 5, 2003.]

Whitey Go Home

As housing prices in good — that is to say white — New York neighborhoods climb, some whites are moving into black areas where housing is cheaper. Many blacks fear “gentrification” will destroy the character of their neighborhoods and force out black-owned businesses.

“Historically, we have had to fight to integrate certain neighborhoods, and when we moved in, white folks moved out,” says Karlena Byers, a black teacher. “Now that white folks are getting priced out of their neighborhoods, they want to move into our neighborhoods. I have a problem with that.” “Look at Harlem,” she adds. “All of 125th Street practically looks like a commercial shopping center to me. Fort Greene is not the neighborhood I used to know and love. It’s so glitzy now.”

Andrew Witherspoon of Harlem, who recently inherited a brownstone, says he won’t sell it: “We’re not just going to relinquish this property over to some white developers who will continue to gentrify this neighborhood. We have to stay.” In black neighborhoods all over New York, activists are urging residents, especially old people, not to sell. They pass out anti-white flyers that say, “Once this community leaves Black, it ain’t ever going back.”

Many of the whites gentrifying Harlem are from France, Italy and even Russia. “I think [the immigrants] have a fascination with Harlem,” says real estate agent Belinda Hardin. Annie Merkowitz explains that “there is a whole group of white people like myself who really want to live in black neighborhoods not simply because the housing is cheaper but because we enjoy black culture.” Miss Merkowitz, who is renovating a rundown brownstone, sympathizes with her neighbor’s fears of gentrification. “I understand that suspicion,” she explains, “but I am here because I love this neighborhood.” [Jamal E. Watson, The Whitening of Black Neighborhoods, Chicago Standard News, July 17, 2003, p. 1.]

Through the Back Door

Goa, on the west Indian coast, was a Portuguese colony from early in the 16th century until December 1961, when India forced out the Portuguese. Under Portuguese law, the people of “Portuguese India” — Goa and the surrounding enclaves of Damao and Diu — were citizens of Portugal. After India seized the colony, thousands of Indians left for Portugal or its African colonies, but many more stayed behind. Now that the European Union allows its citizens to live anywhere within the union, Goans who lived under Portuguese rule, along with their descendants, are claiming Portuguese citizenship.

“Sure, I’ll go to Lisbon — I have eight cousins there,” says Stuart Fernandes, a boat mechanic applying for a passport at the Portuguese consulate in Goa. “But then I will go straight to London.” His friend Glaston Luis also plans to visit cousins in Lisbon before heading to “Scotland or London.”

The colonial-era archives in Goa are bad, and Portuguese officials have a hard time checking the identities of people who apply for passports. Fraud is common, and newspapers are full of ads from people claiming to be experts in Portuguese passport applications. “It’s a business, as if Portuguese citizenship is for sale,” says Portugal’s consul in Goa, Miguel de Caheiros Velozo. “It is a way to go around immigration laws.” [James Brooke, Indians’ Entrée to Europe is a Portuguese Passport, New York Times, June 8, 2003, p. 10.]

Crowding into America

The most crowded big city in the United States is not Los Angeles or New York, but Santa Ana, California. Average household size is 2.8 in Los Angeles, and 2.6 in New York, but 4.6 in Santa Ana. The city’s population grew more than 50 percent in the last 20 years, thanks mostly to illegal immigrants. Many live in squalid, overcrowded, unsafe buildings, but immigration advocates denounced enforcement of building and density codes as racist, and tied up the city with lawsuits. Santa Ana now has half as many building inspectors as it did in 1984, and enforces codes only half-heartedly.

Immigrants cram into any space they can find. Gloria Valadez lives with her daughter and six grandchildren in a ramshackle, rented two-bedroom house. They sublet one bedroom to a family of three and the other to a family of five. Sixteen people live in her 950-square-foot home, which is one of four on a one-third acre lot. The neighbors also sublet, for a total of 42 people in four houses. Before the city forced people out of the garages, the number was 55.

The fire department worries about the fire hazards of cramped living, and the health department worries about mice, rats and other vermin. Crime goes up in very dense housing, and when children live with strangers they are much more likely to be molested and abused.

Third-World immigrants don’t seem to mind. Alejandro Faustino, one of Gloria Valadez’s tenants, came from Mexico with his pregnant wife nine months ago. “We couldn’t ask for more,” he says. “We feel really lucky to have this and to have the chance to get ahead here.” [Jennifer Mena, In Housing Density, It’s Too Close for Comfort, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 13, 2003.]

The Real Score

From 1976 to 1988, the black/white gap in standardized test scores narrowed, leading some to predict that in a generation it would disappear. They were wrong; as 1988 the gap has widened again. In 1976, the difference in average combined scores was 240, a number that narrowed to 189 points, a significant drop. However, by 2002, the difference in average scores was back up to 203 points: 1060 for whites and 857 for blacks. Blacks get worse scores than any other group, including Puerto Ricans and Eskimos. Eskimos average about 100 points higher than blacks.

It is common to argue that family income drives SAT scores, and that the racial gap is explained by black/white wealth differences. However, in 2002, whites from families with incomes below $10,000 had average test scores 46 points higher than blacks from families with incomes between $80,000 and $100,000. Blacks from families with incomes greater than $100,000 had averages scores 142 points lower than whites from equally wealthy families.

There are very few blacks among the ranks of the highest scorers. In 2002, 122,683 blacks took the test — 9.2 percent of all test-takers — but only 838 (one percent of all test-takers) scored 700 or higher on the math SAT and only 822 (1.4 percent) scored that high on the verbal test. Whites were seven times more likely than blacks to score 700 or better on the verbal, and nine times more likely to score 700 on the math parts of the test. Admission to one of the country’s most selective colleges requires scores of 750 or better. Whites were ten times more likely than blacks to score that high on the verbal test, and 11 times more likely on the math test. In the entire country, only about 200 blacks got scores that high on either test. Under affirmative action, about six percent of the 50,000 students admitted to the top 25 schools every year are black. Without preferences that figure would drop to under one percent.

The same race differences appear in scores for the American College Testing (ACT) Program. In 2002, 87 percent of white test-takers scored at or above the median score for blacks. Whites are 11 times more likely than blacks to score at the levels required by the most demanding universities. Given the disparity in numbers, there are approximately 50 times as many whites as blacks who qualify for the top schools. [The Expanding Racial Scoring Gap Between Black and White SAT Test Takers, Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Sept. 3, 2002.]

Remember Goliad!

Shortly after the fall of the Alamo in 1836, Mexican troops under the command of Gen. Jose de Urrea defeated a force of Texans under the command of Col. James Fannin at the Battle of Coleto Creek near Goliad, Texas. The Texans surrendered, believing they would be treated as prisoners of war. Instead, the Mexicans marched the 300 or so survivors to Goliad and shot them. The incident became known in Texas history as the Goliad Massacre, and was memorialized in the cry, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!”

Mexicans resent the term “massacre.” With Goliad now half Hispanic, they insist “execution” is more culturally sensitive and historically accurate. The Texans, they say, were foreigners in rebellion against a legitimate government. “Would we be surprised today,” asks author Andres Tijerina, “if the US government executed a group of pirates or terrorists . . . who were found operating on American soil?”

Emelio Vargas, an assistant principal at Goliad’s elementary school, agrees: “For so long in Texas history classes it’s been drilled into us that the Mexicans were the demons and Anglos the enlightened heroes. On this point, we’re no longer going to accept it without a fight.” Many Anglos, says Benny Martinez of the Goliad chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), “still hate Mexicans and using ‘massacre’ is a subtle way for them to express it.”

Ron Tyler, a history professor at the University of Texas and president of the Texas State Historical Society, thinks massacre is the appropriate term. “Those men might have fought to the death if they thought their lives would not have been spared,” he says.

One of Goliad’s newest residents, Indian hotel owner Rajesh Bhakta, doesn’t understand what the fuss is all about. “No wonder our town is not growing,” he complains. “Who wants to invest in a place with all this unseemly fighting over long-ago affairs?” [Simon Romero, War of Words Divides Residents of Texas Town, New York Times, July 19, 2003.]

Silver Lining

In early September, the New York City media went into a frenzy when a group of white teen-agers on Staten Island attacked a black girl and yelled racial slurs. In the midst of white breast-beating it came to light that slurs are shouted all the time, and that whites are hardly the only ones shouting them. Later that same month, in a single weekend, there were no fewer than eight incidents reported to police, with plenty of black and Hispanic slur-shouters. “I think if there is any good news,” says Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “there does not seem to be a pattern here. It doesn’t seem to be directed against one group.” [Stephanie Gaskell, Throw Book at All Bias Thugs: Mike, New York Post, Sept. 23, 2003.]

The mayor is wrong. There is a pattern here. Racial diversity is a failure and no one likes it.

Another Flag Flap

Eight states offer specialty license plates honoring the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV): Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. John W. Adams of Florida wants his state to be the ninth. Florida already offers 54 specialty plates and has another 40 waiting to be issued. A portion of the surcharge on the plates goes to the organization behind them.

The SCV won’t find any support from Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. Spokesman Jacob DiPietre says, “the governor is adamantly against” the SCV plates. In 2001, Gov. Bush took down the Confederate flag that had flown at the state capitol since the late ‘60s, saying he wanted to avoid trouble. [Rebel Flag License Plate Proposed, AP, Sept. 16, 2003.]

Growing Apart

Census analysts note that 100 years ago, the 20 most popular given names for blacks were virtually the same as those for whites. Divergence began in the 1960s, and now there is scarcely any racial overlap in the most popular names. It has become easy to pick out many blacks — and even some whites — just from their first names. DeShawn and Shanice are almost exclusively black, while only whites name their children Cody or Caitlin. One study of 16 million births in California between 1960 and 2000 found that more than 40 percent of the names given to black girls were not given to a single white girl born in the same year. [Justin Pope, Black Parents Torn Over Ethnic Names, AP, Sept. 28, 2003.]

Perhaps the country needs a new word for what happens when assimilation goes into reverse. “Dissimilation” might do the job.

‘Dark and Lonely’

The following excerpts from a letter were reprinted in an advice column in an Islamic newsletter:

I am 27 years old, unmarried and of [X-ed out] origin. My family has looked for a suitable husband for me for quite some time. I have a dark complexion, and for people from [X-ed out] this is not considered beautiful. In fact, my friends and acquaintances who are light in complexion (and considerably less attractive than me) are married. All of my life this situation has bothered me. I have low self-esteem because of it.

Only non-Muslim men (Caucasians to be specific) have ever seemed attracted to me. It seems that most Muslim men prefer fair skin. Even the ads I see on the Muslim marriage sites and in magazines say ‘Fair Girl Wanted.’

The letter is signed “Dark and Lonely.” [Ask Auntie Hakima, The Muslim Link (College Park, Maryland), August 2003, p. 15.]

Quota Quandary

Blacks are 50 percent of the population of Brazil, but only two percent of college students. Activists pressured the government into reserving 40 percent of admissions for blacks and mixed-race pardos, and 50 percent for public high school graduates (the largely white upper classes go to private schools). This year, the first for preferences, more than half of the 5,000 students admitted to the prestigious State University of Rio de Janeiro got in under a quota. Unlike the United States, Brazil does not yet appear to have grading quotas: Nearly 40 percent of blacks and pardos have already dropped out.

Whites fought the quotas with more than 300 lawsuits, and pressured the legislature. Last March, it voted to narrow the quotas for 2004-2005, reserving just 20 percent of admissions for blacks, 20 percent for public school graduates, and five percent for cripples and Indians. Pardos will get no preferences.

Blacks in the ruling leftist Workers Party want strict quotas for everything from government hiring to television commercials. President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva agrees, saying, “It’s a blatant fact that blacks earn the lowest levels of income, have less schooling and the worst jobs, and make up more than their share of the unemployed.” Mr. da Silva is trying to reduce black unemployment single-handedly. He appointed Brazil’s first black Supreme Court justice, created a Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality, and has more blacks in his cabinet than any other Brazilian president. [Hector Tobar, A Racial Quake in Brazil, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 1, 2003.]

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