What a Week!


I understand that we’re in the middle of a global financial crisis and recession that could leave millions of us out of work. But no one has explained to me why our leaders — including President-Elect Obama — have reserved a special place for the American auto industry. The long-term prognosis for the so-called Big Three is horrible. They have done little to keep up with alternative technologies, to build in new levels of efficiency, and to avoid the crisis in which we all find ourselves. The question is whether the American auto industry is worth saving.

Another question that no one has address is what constitutes the American auto industry. After all, many of the Big Three’s operations are in other parts of the world, not just in the US. For that matter, Toyota and Honda have operations, including factories, right here in the US, and Honda passed Chrysler in terms of production several years ago. Why aren’t we talking about these companies when we talk about the “American auto industry?” Wake up, folks. This isn’t the ’80s anymore. Our world is so interconnected that to discuss loans for companies on the brink when there are substantial assets of overseas auto companies here in the US that would be more successful with those loans (if they needed them) is simply dumb. Our government could give GM, Ford and Chrysler $100 billion, and at least one of them would still go out of business, and at least one other will likely be merged with an automaker based in Europe or Japan.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think that we’re looking at the end of the “American auto industry” as we’ve known it since ’84 by the middle of the next decade. Why throw more dollars at this problem when it would be better spent helping American Honda and Toyota “make the cars of tomorrow right here in America?”

It’s been interesting watching the civil rights establishment coming out of the woodwork after Obama’s victory on Tuesday. On the one hand, it’s inspiring. More than a few of these men and — in only a few cases, based on media coverage (not my opinion) — women spilled blood, were killed and beaten and ridiculed so that someone like Obama could come along and win the presidency. On the other hand, there remains that retread narrative about the ’60s and protest and engaged youth, and yes, the promise of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s ironic, considering that it was Generation X and especially Y that put Obama over the top on Tuesday. With few exceptions, the mainstream media spent most of its time interviewing Civil Rights era veterans about the meaning of Obama’s victory. As if folks from my generation or my younger siblings’ generation couldn’t appreciate the distance that we’ve traveled since the end of the Jim Crow era and the Brown decision 54 years ago. Hopefully with the Obama Administration and what results from it, we can finally move past the arguments of the ’60s. I fully expect that some of you will disagree, and that’s fine. We can agree to disagree about this.

One other thing. We’ve come far but hardly far enough. Not when voters can take away the right to marry granted by their state constitutions merely because the people getting married are two men or two women. Besides the mantra of “Who cares?” or “It’s really none of your business!,” there’s the reality that in California at least, Blacks overwhelmingly backed Prop 8 and Latinos helped the Black margin. Some have argued that this is the first time in American history that people have been allowed to take a constitutional right away. Wrong! Anyone ever hear of Jim Crow? All during the 1890s, politicians passed and (in some cases) White voters ratified constitutional revisions that allowed for Black exclusion and segregation in public life throughout the South, including the right of Black men to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution. This isn’t the first time, and likely will not be the last.

Yet it’s a shame that people of color anywhere would vote in substantial numbers for a measure designed to take away the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry. As if civil union laws are sufficient. It reflects a level of ignorance and homophobia that few are willing to talk about in the Black and Latino communities. That folks can’t separate their religious convictions from the secular realm is scary. I mean, we might as well do away with civil marriages altogether if folks feel so strongly that the state shouldn’t allow adults to marry.

It’s been an amazing week, but one that shows that we have a lot of work to do to bring American culture in line with our twenty-first century reality of a multicultural society.

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