by Yvette Carnell
The right wing is having a field day with the Howard University student who said to Sen. Rand Paul, “I want a government that is going to help me fund my college education. “Already the quote is up at right wing rag Drudge, and pretty soon, some black folk will undoubtedly begin to cower and ask, “why he gotta go say that on TV and make white folk think we want a hand out! We ain’t all welfare queens!”
You should feel sorry for both the Pavlovian bell ringers and hand wringers, since neither group is espousing a view based on any historical premise.
The truth is that the Howard student, Keenan Glover, didn’t go nearly far enough with his comment. In that sense, Glover wasn’t nearly as harsh as he should’ve been in his demand for government assistance.
Here’s what Glover should’ve said: “I want a government to help me in the same way that the Homestead Act helped white people, and propelled them into the middle class.”
And if you don’t want to use that particular piece of legislation as your example, then just pick something else. History’s full of these sorts of examples. That’s because for the majority of this country’s history, affirmative action has been……….. white, not black or brown. The disparity between white and black Americans, which still exists in this country, widened after the Second World War, largely due to government policy which granted specific privileges to white citizens.
New Deal legislation, which pulled whites out of poverty, was written to handicap blacks by Southern Democrats who ensured that one of three things happened: 1) African-Americans were left out of the legislation altogether 2) the administration of the policies was placed in the hands of local Southern racists 3) there was no anti-discriminatory language added to the bill. So European immigrants flourished while African-Americans, especially those in the South, were relegated to poverty.
Given that context, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Howard student, or any other black person for that matter, insisting that government provide help to blacks, especially considering how much of helping hand Uncle Sam has given to whites.
But don’t take my word for it. Dr. King made the case for government help much better than I could ever have hoped to. Watch MLK’s video here.