Can O’ Worms

When I first read what Herman Cain said I thought “Oh, shit! He’s gone and done it now!”

Zandar Brings The Stupid:

Herman Cain is now saying the fact that he exists means racism isn’t holding minorities back. It’s all in your head.

When asked by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley if he thought African Americans had a level playing field, Cain said he thought most of them did, using his own experience in corporations as an example.

“Many of them do have a level playing field,” Cain said. “I absolutely believe that. Not only because of the businesses that I have run, which has had the combination of whites, blacks, Hispanics – you know, we had a total diversity. But also because of the corporations whose board I’ve served on for the last 20 years. I have seen blacks in middle management move up to top management in some of the biggest corporations in America.”

As for African Americans who remain economically disadvantaged, Cain said they often only had themselves to blame.

“They weren’t held back because of racism,” Cain said. “People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.”

I didn’t honestly think Herman Cain could be any more repugnant, but saying that racism is all in the heads of African-Americans is just ludicrous to the point of self-parody involving what people think about black CEOs running for the GOP White House ticket.

The cognitive dissonance is staggering to me. Herman Cain was in college during the civil rights era in the 60′s. When federal civil rights laws were codified, Cain benefited from them on the way to his lofty perch as Godfather’s Pizza CEO. At no point have I ever heard of Cain saying he was going to pass up civil rights programs or not take advantage of them because he thought the playing field was level. He admits in the interview that educational and economic disparity still exists, and then blames poor minorities for it. How does one escape a hell like that, you wonder? Through a college scholarship, perhaps?

Hell, look at the racism that spewed out when candidate Obama entered the race in 2007. It’s only gotten worse since then, and Cain honestly believes there’s a level playing field? Is he blind to all the assistance he received? Did he ever turn down a position because a company had an affirmative action policy in place? How the hell is he so damn sure that he received zero assistance from any of the civil rights measures that followed on his way to CEO?


I know what you’re thinking – I’m not supposed to talk about this stuff because I’m white and the “national conversation on race” is supposed to be a lecture, not a dialog. I’m just supposed to sit quietly and think about how white privilege has blinded me to how racist I am.

But I was never real good at doing what I’m supposed to do.

Cain DID NOT say that racism was all in the heads of African Americans. Here’s what he actually said:

“I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way,” Cain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Are there some elements of racism? Yes. It gets back to if we don’t grow this economy, that is a ripple effect for every economic level, and because blacks are more disproportionately unemployed, they get hit the worst when economic policies don’t work. That’s where it starts.”

[…]

“The gap is due to a number of factors,” Cain said. “One is a differential in education. Two is a concentration of a lot of blacks in certain areas like the city of Detroit, where the unemployment rate there is 14% versus the 9.1% we have nationally. So you have a city like Detroit where they lost 25% of their population, economically they’ve done nothing but go down, down, down.”

[…]

“Many of them do have a level playing field,” Cain said. “I absolutely believe that. Not only because of the businesses that I have run, which has had the combination of whites, blacks, Hispanics – you know, we had a total diversity. But also because of the corporations whose board I’ve served on for the last 20 years. I have seen blacks in middle management move up to top management in some of the biggest corporations in America.”

[…]

“They weren’t held back because of racism,” Cain said. “People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.”


All my life I’ve been hearing how racism is the reason for all the problems in the black community. Pick a problem. and someone will explain how racism is to blame for it.

Literacy is a basic job skill. Is there any school in this country where a black child can’t learn to read, write and do basic math? I hear people say things like how 100 years ago it was illegal in some places to teach blacks to read and how 50 years ago schools were segregated.

But I’m talking about today. Is racism still an obstacle to any black child receiving a basic education?

Now I’ve also heard people explain how SAT tests are racially biased and how hard it is for people from the lower end of the socio-economic ladder to get into top schools. Fair enough.

I went to a public k-12 school system. I never took the SAT, I just joined the army. When I got out I started working. Then when I was 30 I attended a community college. After that I transferred to a state college. Then I went to a small state-accredited law school. To pay my way and survive I worked, got grants, scholarships and student loans.

All my life I have worked and gone to school with black people and other minorities. I have had black teachers and supervisors. In both work and school the standards were the same for everyone – show up when you’re supposed to and do the work assigned.

I’ve been told that because of my white privilege I can’t see the hidden racism that exists. When I ask someone to point it out for me they can’t.

Herman Cain grew up in the segregated south. He succeeded pretty well, a lot better than I have. Zandar points out that Cain was aided by civil rights programs as proof that Cain is wrong. But those programs were passed to level the playing field.

This part is just ridiculous:

“Hell, look at the racism that spewed out when candidate Obama entered the race in 2007. It’s only gotten worse since then . . .”


Yeah, that horrible racism like Bill Clinton calling Obama’s claims on Iraq a “fairy tale.” It was so terrible it prevented Barack Obama from becoming President of the United States.

Oh, wait . . .

Okay, let’s assume for the sake of argument that Zandar is correct and racism is still a major barrier to black economic success. What should black people do about it?

Should they throw up their hands and say it’s no use? Should they wait for government to do something?

Or should they still try to “be all they can be?”

What do you think?



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16 Responses to Can O’ Worms

  1. Three Wickets says:

    Why weren’t progressive activists making racism in American society a top campaign issue during the 2000 or 2004 elections. Maybe same progressives were being racists. Or maybe they are just ridiculous hypocrites. OFA made racism the top issue in 2008 to win the White House. Has Obama improved race relations or economic opportunity for minorities since he’s been in office…no.

  2. votermom says:

    All this seems familiar:


    ludicrous to the point of self-parody
    I didn’t honestly think ____ could be any more repugnant
    cognitive dissonance is staggering

    It’s part of the Palinization script for bloggers.
    I’m waiting to see if the media tries to Palinize him too. Because that would be a big backhand endorsement.

    Thanks for looking up what he actually said, which is very realistic:

    It gets back to if we don’t grow this economy, that is a ripple effect for every economic level, and because blacks are more disproportionately unemployed, they get hit the worst when economic policies don’t work.

    I am convinced he is very smart: I am not sure yet about his intentions or his ability to move the DC machinery.

  3. votermom says:

    Cain:
    The jobs bill is loaded with “sneak ataxes”.
    LOL. I like that.

    His 999 tax plan scares me a bit though.

    • myiq2xu says:

      I don’t like any of the candidates (from either party) now running. Unfortunately, one of them is going to win.

      • WMCB says:

        That’s pretty much it for me, too, if you mean “like” in the sense of agree with policies and goals.

        But of the R’s, Cain seems like a nicer, more straightforward human being than the rest. So I “like” him in that sense.

  4. HELENK says:

    whether or not you agree with Herman Cain and his political beliefs, not to give him credit for what he has accomplished is just wrong.
    He took what was a available and used it wisely. Isn’t that what people are supposed to do?
    He got the education he needed and worked with it. He is an American success story. Just what is wrong with that?

  5. DeniseVB says:

    You’d think the black community would embrace Cain’s personal successes and use him as a role model ? Sure it may be tough for a black kid to rise to the top, and as the OWS kids prove, just as tough for a white kid too. The field is level, and I agree with Cain when he says you only have yourself to blame. Then there’s Al Sharpton:

    http://radioequalizer.blogspot.com/2011/10/sharpton-professor-debate-cains.html

  6. WMCB says:

    Cain also, in that interview, touched on the fact that blacks are many times concentrated in inner urban neighborhoods that tend to be poor (he mentioned Detroit) and that the environment they grow up in has a lot to do with lack of success and unemployment. If a bigger percent of you are concentrated into economically blighted areas, an economic downturn is going to affect you more than the white population, which is more spread out.

    He said his economic agenda is going to include “empowerment zones” for just that reason, and those plans will to roll out this week. (I have no idea what they are.)

    To paint what Cain said as “racism doesn’t exist, screw the black community, I got mine, and the civil rights movement never helped anyone” is dishonest. That’s not what he said, and they know it – or they would, if they’d listen instead of hunting for any remotely plausible grievance in every word.

    But Cain is absolutely right when he says that while individual racists do still exist, there is not widespread entrenched racism running rampant and “worse than ever before” in this country. There just isn’t. And he’s right that racism is not THE cause for every problem faced by the black community. I think he’s brave to push back against that, myself – because focusing solely on racism as the One True Barrier to success is frankly not helping to make black people any more successful.

    In one of Cain’s earlier interviews, when asked about how he turned around dismally failing businesses, he remarked that half the battle was asking the right questions. He said that if you don’t do that, you end up working very hard on the wrong problem. And he said that one of the things he had a knack for, that made him successful, was the ability to ask the right questions and figure out what the problem was.

  7. trist says:

    “I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way,” Cain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Well, that’s not exactly true. It sure kept Hillary Clinton from becoming Pres. and giving us a qualified leader. So I’d say we ALL paid a price for “racism”.

  8. Dario says:

    I didn’t honestly think Herman Cain could be any more repugnant, but saying that racism is all in the heads of African-Americans is just ludicrous to the point of self-parody involving what people think about black CEOs running for the GOP White House ticket.

    I find repugnant that Cain’s honesty and appraisal about racism is impugned by the writer. I think Cain’s experience is his own, and to say that his experience is not valid is abuse. But I think there’s racism and prejudice in America, and because of it, people are judged and not given a chance to prove themselves. Blacks are not the only ones who suffer prejudice, women experience it too. That’s what I’ve seen, and my experience is as valid as Cain’s. This is an area that we must accept diverse views and say: “We will disagree”.

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