Southern Justice

I continue to say that we stuffer from the prophecy of Ben Franklin.  To paraphrase this man, he said just before his death that until we really deal with the issue of race and the impact it continues to have on our society, we will continue to suffer as a nation, and that it would get worse as time moved forward. As we face more and more of this economic threat to this nation, I truly believe that we know how to make this nation better for all.  However, I also believe that we are stopped for the simple reason that we refuse to face the fact that this nation still discriminates and continues to judge individuals on the basis of their color and/or status in life.

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It is so evident why we continue to fall into that same hole.  The people who are guiding the path we are walking have not changed.   Let me update something I said over a decade ago that fits today.  “Unfortunately, when we approach efforts to solve this nation’s debt crisis, we tend to fall back to what we have done before.  It may be under a different name or packaged in a different box, but it is ultimately the same racist strategy that has really got us nowhere.”  The thing that those in Congress, especially those not of color,  fail to realize is that this nation is no longer really white middle-class individuals.  That their cutting is not only hurting those that don’t look like them, but those that do.  However, the legacy of  slavery, that which Ben was talking about, has those who are white and hurting, saying subconsciously whether they realize it or not, “well I am still white and that must count for something.”  What they don’t realize is that that is counting for less and less with each passing day.

I continue to find it interesting that we continue to ignore the cost of health disparities, as well as the cost of racial segregation on this nation.  If you multiple the last report over a decade, it comes to $3.25 trillion for health disparities.  Then you add in the one trillion annually for segregation, wouldn’t it make sense to address these issues, rather than cutting money that is going to improve our health and the education of our children.  Clearly something that would benefit this nation in the long run.  Yet we have people still trying to hunt for President Obama’s birth certificate. And looking for more ways to cut programs for the poor and the underserved, code words for blacks and others.

Let me point to one simple program, the Hope/Scope Perry Study of 123 poor black children who were provided a simple interview for one year to get them ready for school, with four teachers doing a weekly home intervention.  What that is is about 30 students per teacher.  What is the ratio in your school?  Oh, did I mention that these were 3- an 4-year-olda and it was for only one year, nothing else.  Now fast-forward 40 years later.  Oh, did I say that they were really poor, I mean poor poor.  OK, where are the vast majority of these kids today?  Oh, again did I tell you that they were both black and poor.  Those that received the program had better academic performance and were more than likely to have graduated from high school.  That they did better economically, had higher employment annual income, savings and home ownership.  Oh, by the way, did I mention that they were black and poor.  Did I mentioned that they had fewer arrests for violent, property and drug crimes.  But here is the kicker, this intervention, did I mention it was weekly for only one year, had a return on investment of $17 for every dollar invested in the early childhood education intervention.

So we know what to do and the returns it would make on our society.  But we stop short in doing it.  To meet it is that innate fear of losing power.  For if you educate them and they become successful, they may do to you what you did to them.  What other reason is there?  I can’t think of another.  I am open to another alternative.  Maybe stupidity!!!

Lovell Jones, Ph.D.

Lovell Jones, Ph.D.

Lovell Allan Jones was born in Baton Rouge, La and was among the first African Americans to integrate school. He was also among the first undergraduates to integrate Louisiana State University, In 1968 he moved to California to continue his education, getting his Ph.D. with an emphasis in Tumor Biology & Endocrinology in 1977. He is now Research Professor at Texas A & M University Corpus Christi. In being bestow Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas Graduate School for Biomedical Science, became the first African American dual emeritus professor in the UT System, and probably one of the few, if not only in the United States. He was the director of the Congressionally Mandated Center for Research on Minority Health at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas and co-founder of the Intercultural Cancer Council, the nation’s largest multicultural health policy organization. While maintaining as active scientific program to change the nation’s approach to research dealing with underserved populations, Dr. Jones started writing essays on societal issues and the lack of progress in closing the health and health care gap almost two decades ago. His essays, on LOVELL'S FOOD FOR THOUGHT, have appeared in a number of publications, first appearing on his personal email list serve to over 2000 of his “friends.” Here is what WEB Dubois' Great Grandson said after reading this FOOD FOR THOUGHT: When my great-grandfather said in 1903 that "The problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the color-line." he was clearly stating the exact point that Dr. Jones makes. It was so clear to him that the prejudices rampant in America during that time were so deeply ingrained that they represented a barrier worthy of being considered in terms that would require, at minimum, a century to resolve. When I'm asked about Grandpa's quote today I tell people that the number has changed to the 21st, but the problem seems to be equally as intractable now, as intractable now, as then. He went on to write many things about the "color-line" and "The Veil" over his 95 years. One that I find most succinct and touching is attached. It comes from his 1920 book "Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil". I think it lends insight and historical perspective to Dr. Jones' statement" ...that slavery is and continues to be a source of evil. An evil that we truly have never addressed. For it prevails in our biases, those subconscious innocent biases that play out on a daily basis."