Reporting from Rhode Island

I am writing this post from a hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. I am here doing a training for Campus Camp Wellstone at Brown University, teaching students how to become organizers.

If I could steal a page from Garlin’s book, I want to give you a glimpse of what is happening as I travel. In 2005, Rhode Island boasted a Black population of 6.2% and when over the past two days, I have seen about three Black people and they were all students. Regardless, it’s a cute city and has a ton of character. Right now I am looking at the famous (and very ritzy) Biltmore hotel, which is ironic because Biltmore was the name of the street I lived on growing up in Detroit. Life is a trip right?

Anyways, the local paper here has a story where the Supreme Court ruled that two women who were married in Massachusetts could not get a divorce citing that Rhode Island law specifies that marriage is only between a man and woman. At least this decision helps sustain the deplorable divorce rate in this country.

I must say I was highly impressed by an editorial in the Providence Journal that addressed the need for affirmative action and why critics need to stop claiming that we have had affirmative action in place long enough. What follows is a lengthy excerpt from the article,

Still, Americans are uncomfortable emphasizing race. Wouldn’t it be better, many think, to focus efforts on the economically disadvantaged instead? We’d end up helping whites along with blacks, and thereby diminish resentment.

Certainly, colleges must do better at enrolling low-income students. But, as Bowen noted in a speech this year, used exclusively, such a system would cut the number of minority students at top schools from just over 13 percent to 7 percent. Ending race-sensitive admissions policies now, as blacks are seeing both opportunity and progress erode, will not get us to “long enough.”

Race issues put many Americans at war with themselves. Whites want to be tolerant but also to side with their own. Blacks want to succeed on merit but know they will not always be seen as equal.

With every Jena, slavery’s original wound is reopened. The dilemmas seem deeply personal, and impossible to resolve. The only thing that helps is counter-examples, and lots of them. That is why, at the policy level, we have to keep playing the averages for a while longer.

I might have to come back to Rhode Island.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

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