America is a meritocracy, my father always told me. The harder he worked, the more money he got: clear cause and effect. But my father had a legacy that he couldn't see, a legacy he only got because he is white. He was a World War II-era veteran, and bought his first house with a Veterans Administration mortgage, which almost all veterans of color were denied. His parents got Social Security old-age benefits when the program excluded domestic and agricultural workers, which meant that most people of color did not qualify. Of course effort and talent make a difference in climbing the staircase to prosperity. But for most white men, the staircase has been an escalator powered by public assistance. Historically, for people of color, the escalator has been broken or has run backwards.
From The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide," by Meizhu Lui, Barbara Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, Rose Brewer, and Rebecca Adamson, with United for a Fair Economy. I showed the quotation above to Smoky Joe, the Executive Director of our sponsor, Rooster Foundation: Crowing in the New American Century. He rocked around in his chair laughing and slapping the desk. Then he had this to say,
People still write like this? I thought the last 60's liberals had died off, or gone into the mountains to prophesy to the wind. Yeah, so it is you and me; it is our fault women and minorities are so often losers. We white men are to blame for everything. Look at Candidia Cruikshanks, she is a woman. She is worth billions. Attorney General Gonzalez, he's - what do they call them? - Latino. Condi Rice - unless I am mistaken she is - what do they call them? - African-American. This is a great country if you just work hard and stop making excuses. Worst thing you can do is to pity the weak and pander to the shirkers. What minorities need is a) our moral example and b) a swift kick in the pants. The color of money is green. Tell your liberal friends to stop smoking banana peels and get a job. Get me a few copies of the book. We can use it to raise money for Rooster. "See, the whiney liberals are still alive. We ain't got 'em all yet. Give us another $100 million and we will stamp them all out and let Freedom ring from sea to shining sea."
Well, I am sure good money can be raised on both sides. It is all philanthropy one way or another. "Making a difference," that is what it's all about. And "outcomes," its about outcomes too. Values too. We all got values. The main thing is to connect with the donor's values so they use strategic philanthropy to get outcomes. When the outcomes include more political clout, repeal of onerous regulation and high taxes, the key outcome is more money for the donor, so you have a virtuous spiral of never ending good. What liberals seem to miss is the part where you get your money back 1,000 fold through policy change and patronage in high places. Pity and compassion and laying a guilt trip on white males is not going to get it done. Unless we put the money and the time into organizing across class, gender and race for social justice, Rooster et. al will prevail. The days of getting it done by guilt are gone.