Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada)
Note: This post originally appeared as a column in the April 2012 edition of the Detroit Native Sun
By John Telford
Black (and many white) reactionaries are still calling Nevada Senator Harry Reid a racist for simply stating a probable truth — that many of President Obama’s white (and some black) supporters were swayed to vote for him because he’s light-skinned and speaks "standard" idiomatic American English.
It’s known in southeastern Michigan that I’ve battled white racists throughout my career and called them what they are in print, in board halls, and over the air.
As I said regarding Rochester’s resident racists when I was the deputy superintendent there, and as I said again two decades later on television regarding Madison Heights’ racists when I was the superintendent there, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, you can be pretty sure it’s a duck."
Sen. Reid is a liberal Democrat with a record of supporting African-Americans. A "duck" he definitely isn’t.
This brings to mind the Dale Lick case of 1993. Dr. Lick was the Michigan State University governing board’s favored candidate for the MSU presidency, until word got out that he had said blacks are innately superior in some aspects of athletics. When confronted with that with that statement during the interviews, he refused to recant. By all accounts, he was the best candidate.
Many mainstream publications, including Runner’s World in a 1992 article, have stated the obvious in asserting that athletes of West African descent are generally faster sprinters than are athletes of purely European descent. Throughout the past half-century, Track & Field News’ annual listings of the world’s 100 top times in the dash races confirm that 95 percent of them were usually clocked by Caribbean or American blacks, who some anthropologists hypothesize are collectively stronger and faster due to innate muscular-skeletal traits, plus hybridization and slavery’s brutal "natural selection." In the 1950s in national and international competition, nearly all of my toughest opponents at 100, 200, and 400 meters were African-Americans or Jamaicans.
Dale Lick’s statistically supported statement cost him the MSU job, even though he had also made this relevantly redeeming remark, "Just because Blacks are superior in athletics doesn’t mean they’re inferior in something else."
When we insert the word "intellectually" in place of the words "in something else," we reach the crux of this issue. I taught black youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds who with what in those bygone days was a good Detroit Public School education became top academicians. They included Southeastern High alumnus john powell (uses no caps in his name), a former Harvard professor and national legal director of the ACLU. I encouraged them to be able to switch from dialect to the "standard" English spoken by leaders like Obama when the situation requires it.
Also, as Sen. Reid implied, favoring lighter-skinned blacks socially and politically remains a discriminatory practice of many Americans, both white and black. Reid simply told the truth. So did Dr. Lick.
"Political correctness" shouldn’t supersede plain truth or plain justice.
Contact Dr. Telford at 313-460-8272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.