Monday, March 19, 2012

Republican Racism Example #41: Blacks Don't "Study Hard"

Black people are poor, Republican state House member Sally Kern believes, because they’re lazy.

In 2011, the Oklahoma State Legislature began debating a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban affirmative action policies that aim to increase the hiring of women and racial minorities.   Defenders of affirmative action noted the widening wealth gap between Latinos and blacks on the one hand and whites on the other during the “Great Recession” that started in 2007.  By 2011, the median white family possessed 20 times the net worth of the median black family and 18 times of the median Hispanic family. (http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2069/housing-bubble-subprime-mortgages-hispanics-blacks-household-wealth-disparity).  In July 2011, the official black unemployment rate in the United States was 16.2 percent, twice the white unemployment rate. 

Defenders of affirmative action pointed out that eliminating such policies would reduce employment in and further economically devastate the black and brown communities. In April 2011 Kern, who represents Oklahoma City, suggested the black poverty was the fault not of racism and discrimination, but of the character defects of African Americans themselves.

“We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”  (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/28/sally-kern-affirmative-action_n_854936.html). 



Republican state House Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma believes that more blacks are poor than whites because they don't work hard. She also compared gays to "toe cancer." (Photo from ttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/28/sally-kern-affirmative-action_n_854936.html).

She made similar statements about women, telling her House colleagues, “Women  usually don't want to work as hard as a man . . . women tend to think a little bit more about their family, wanting to be at home more time, wanting to have a little more leisure time.” (See http://newsok.com/rep.-sally-kerns-comments-on-minorities-and-women-cause-stir/article/3562825) Kern’s comments made even some Republicans in the chamber uncomfortable and on May 2, 2011 the state House voted to reprimand her. (http://newsok.com/oklahoma-house-reprimands-rep.-sally-kern/article/3564084).

Oklahomans will vote on the constitutional amendment banning affirmative action this November 6.

Kern has a history of making extreme statements such on August 31, 2011 when she said that homosexuality was a bigger threat to the United States than terrorism.  She said at an anti-gay gathering:

“You know if you just look at it in practical terms, which has destroyed and ended the life of more people? Terrorism attack here in America or HIV/AIDS? In the last twenty years, fifteen to twenty years, we’ve had maybe three terrorist attacks on our soil with a little over 5,000 people regrettably losing their lives. In the same time frame, there have been hundreds of thousands who have died because of having AIDS. So which one’s the biggest threat? And you know, every day our young people, adults too, but especially our young people, are bombarded at school, in movies, in music, on TV, in the mall, in magazines, they’re bombarded with ‘homosexuality is normal and natural.’ It’s something they have to deal with every day. Fortunately we don’t have to deal with a terrorist attack every day, and that’s what I mean . . .

It’s more dangerous, and yes I think that it’s also more dangerous because it will tear down the moral fiber of this nation. We were founded as a nation upon the principles of religion and morality, if we take those out from under our society we will lose what has made us a great nation, we will no longer be a virtuous people, which we see happening already. And without virtue this nation will not survive.”  (See http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/kern-doubles-down-claim-homosexuality-more-dangerous-terrorist-attacks). 

Kern also compared homosexuality to “toe cancer” and claimed the recession was God’s punishment for permissive abortion laws and gay civil rights advances in the United States. (See http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/06/30/48431/kern-proclamation-morality/). She also wanted to pass a law requiring science teachers in Oklahoma to include criticisms of the theory of evolution when teaching the subject.  (http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/01/28/140452/sally-kern-anti-evolution/).  She has endorsed Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania in this year's GOP primaries.



Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

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