Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
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High Court Tries to Freeze White Privilege in Place

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The real “activist” judiciary if represented by the U.S. Supreme Court majority than is determined to re-enshrine white privilege in law. The New Haven firefighters ruling is an assault on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “The High Court decision would preserve an ethnic, clan and family racial protection racket that has been embedded in fire and police departments for generations.”
 
High Court Tries to Freeze White Privilege in Place
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
What the racist majority is actually attempting to do is to freeze white privilege in place.”
In siding with white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, the 5-4 Supreme Court majority treats white dominance in firefighting as a kind of harmless “tradition” rather then evidence on its face of systemic, institutional racism in hiring and promotion. The ruling reflects a general white American worldview, that sees the Irish fireman as an iconic figure, even in neighborhoods that long ago turned Black or Latino. Under the terms of the past world the majority seeks to preserve, the white fireman and cop is a wholesome and “natural” presence, rather than an affront to every non-white resident of the neighborhood.
The Supreme Court majority, in striking down Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s ruling in New Haven, is raising the bar significantly for minorities seeking entrance or promotion in these historically white men’s clubs – the police precincts and station houses. The justices now demand “strong, basic evidence” of previous discrimination. Yet such evidence is everywhere available in the firefighting and police professions. What the racist majority is actually attempting to do is to freeze white privilege in place. In this case, the High Court decision would preserve an ethnic, clan and family racial protection racket that has been embedded in fire and police departments for generations – the most raw and obvious form of on-the-job apartheid.
A general white American worldview sees the Irish fireman as an iconic figure, even in neighborhoods that long ago turned Black or Latino.”
The white-dominated society, through its media and cultural institutions, actively glorifies this historical white entitlement to jobs by reserving special places of honor for men, and now women, who are third and fourth generation fire and police persons. Most whites do not even question how white ethnic groups, clans and individual families perpetuated themselves in relatively well paid, stable and prestigious civil service employment, from one generation to the next. It is accepted as simply “the way of the world” and a good thing, a comforting situation to most white people – and especially comforting to the sons and daughters that feel entitled to follow their fathers and grandfathers into the firehouse or on the beat or into the white ethnic-dominated construction trades.
The rightwing judges that now dominate the federal judiciary constantly warn against judicial “activism” – when in fact it is they who are on a reactionary political mission to preserve white privilege. They attempt to dismantle key elements of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As Dr. Ron Walters has written, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has been “settled law” for 35 years. Its clear intent was to prevent the “protected classes” – which, at the time, meant Blacks – from being excluded from employment as a result of testing devices. The forces of white privilege have been trying to turn the Act on its head, ever since, by framing whites as in need of protection. As if society has ever been weighted against the interests of white men.
The actual impact of testing in New Haven and elsewhere has been to exclude Blacks and Latinos. These are the facts that racist judges willfully ignore. Instead of facts, they substitute color-blind mumbo-jumbo, a thin cover for race privilege preservation.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20090701_gf_SCOTUSfirefightrs.mp3
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