“We have met the enemy and he is us” is a famous quote most noted from the cartoon character Pogo and originated with the writer Walt Kelly. The division within our country, as it pertains to honoring the American Flag and the singing the National Anthem, brings this quote to the forefront. Let me explain.
Over the past forty plus years I have been actively involved in education from the classroom teacher, Principal, Director, President and College Professor. In all of these roles I have not witnessed any form of oppression. The opposite is true. My travels have allowed the conducting of seminars and workshops in 36 different states. What I have witnessed, however, is an astounding support to people of color and particularly the African American Culture.
In 1965 racial integration of schools occurred throughout the southern United States. The Federal Government enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which literally poured billions of dollars into the American educational system. Students who were developmentally and academically delayed were provided tutoring and individualized teaching to remediate any deficits. This was particularly noticeable with African American students. Occurring simultaneously to this intervention was every opportunity for this population to attend college. Admission requirements were changed allowing students to take classes designed as ‘developmental’ or ‘remedial’ . Minority scholarships and affirmative action programs made college available and affordable to any African American student. The National Merit Foundation developed a new set of standards allowing more African American students to qualify.
As a school administrator, a massive recruitment program for minority teachers was front and center. On more than one occasion I was told, “the next teacher you hire must be a teacher of color.” My role carried me to several colleges where African American students were in the majority. I hasten to add many times diversity rather than competency was the deciding factor in the employment process.
Fifty years into this transformation we see the African American population with employment levels exceeding the actual statistical representation within the greater population. The highest paid salaried occupation in America, professional sports, is dominated by minorities.
In 1965 when the Great Society began and all of the aforementioned programs were developed to help the African American population, two parent homes were the norm. Today 72 percent of the homes have a single mother. During this same period America has flourished with immigrants flooding our borders looking for and getting employment. While this has been occurring, unemployment for the African American culture has increased as welfare roles have doubled. Notwithstanding, the largest school drop out rates are from African American boys. Our society continues to embrace the African American population with medical, housing, financial, transportation and other benefits to the standpoint of rewarding bad behavior. We as a society have tried hard to lock arms and provide liberty and freedom to this aspect of the American population.
When I observe a football team representing America kneel at the playing of the national anthem and stand for the playing of another country’s anthem I am saddened. And when a spokesperson for the American team says he is kneeling because of oppression, my only comment is “kneel and be thankful” “Stand and be proud”…………………………..If this is not possible, POGO had a great line for you. “you have met the enemy and it is you.”