@Mordsith- since we agree on more than we disagree, I will add only this. From what I see the kids who come from lower class, generally minority communities, have to work harder and overcome more, mostly because they start at a lower level than most of the kids coming from middle/upper class white communities. To be fair, to me this is more a problem of class than race. This country has been moving in a direction where the “American dream”- in which anyone can climb the social ladder, is diminishing as the middle class gets split between a small rich group and a growing poor group. And the only ones who profit from dividing the poor is the rich, and the rich vote Republican. I am not sure if for every one of my students there are ten who struggle. I think that’s probably overstating. But I think the circumstances through which these kids struggle to get up is harder than if you’re from the middle or upper class. That poorer kids are being kept out is striking. And as I argued before, generally speaking Blacks have been able to enter the middle class. Ideally, affirmative action should one day end. I don’t think the time is quite now, but I can see affirmative action ending within a decade or even two decades. But what I do see is that poor kids are still being kept out of educational opportunities and education remains the most egalitarian means by which a person can climb the social ladder. It’s not perfect and there are others. One could, for instance, go into the military—which served that purpose during the Vietnam War. I wish I could say that entrenched racism doesn’t exist. I can’t say that for my generation (now entering the 40s). And while I can see that the issue of race and racism is less divisive among my students than my peers, it still exists. Ignoring the issue of race will not end it. Only by dealing with it and overcoming it will it eventually be addressed. @ Darkcorp- Dude, my folks are immigrants as well who worked their way up the ladder. I can argue that when my parents came over- the 1950s, that there was more opportunity for progress. But yes, minorities get crapped on from all over. But you can’t deny that there is a difference between immigrant kids and African Americans. Hell, there is a difference between African-Americans and Blacks coming from the West Indies and Africa. The only immigrant race that is somewhat similar to to Blacks is the Hispanics- especially in places were there are few Blacks. But even among minorities there are kids who fall through the cracks. When I was practicing in New York I did pro bono work for ethnic juveniles that were getting into legal problem- largely because they couldn’t quite fit into the culture. And at the same time, it is also the same, but to a less extent, among immigrants. Immigrants also suffer discrimination and have little social network (save their own communities) to fall back on. But ethnicity and immigrant status is also a basis for equal protection under the Constitution. You are entitle to the same benefits as others- and that includes affirmative action programs. Affirmative Action is not exclusively a Black province- rather it’s a system that seeks to attack institutions that practiced racial discrimination by forcing them to open up to racial integration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action Also I worked delis or restaurants right through high school and college- even into law school. I used to work as a busboy in a restaurant where I was the only back staff that spoke English (and not knowing Spanish made things difficult). But when you talk about McDonalds’ consider how few McD’s there are in cities compared to the demand for work. Consider also that McD’s business plan expects to workers to last about 6 months and then go. It’s part of the model. And its not surprising that a lot of McD’s and similar places are being staffed by Latinos- many of who are immigrants and who share a house like a dorm. The problem is when someone sees two people, one black and one white, and chooses the white kid even though the black kid might be better qualified. You think that doesn’t happen? If you’re parents were willing to hire a black kid over a Chinese kid, I’d be impressed but they’d be the exception rather than the norm. @ Mik- dude, I teach at a public university as a finish up my degree, plus I practiced law for three years. But, coincidence here, NPR had a great bit on the differences in the US legal system- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90256903 Also- http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/us/series/american_exception/index.html Holy Fuck! The US has 5% of the population of the world and 25% of the criminals? The US is definitely a punitive system. Also- the NPR story points out the problem of elected judges I mentioned earlier. @Sander- Actually nearly ½ of the US has some German origin- or so I’ve heard. While I think its fair that the immigrant experience and the slave experience are significantly different- I think that can be overstated a bit. Consider for instance that the Greeks and Jews have some of the strongest ethnic lobby organizations in the US. Consider also that Middle Eastern immigrants are one of the wealthiest groups in the US. Even consider the amount of capital moving through the Chinese community when compared to the Black community- ethnic affiliation has strong influence on social mobility in the US. Generally speaking Blacks didn’t enjoy that. In fact, when Blacks started becoming free one of the moves was to ship them back to Africa because white leaders felt they wouldn’t fit in. But certainly Chinese immigrants, especially on the West Coast, suffered horrendously and were actively discriminated against. But generally immigrants have been able to move out ghettos within one or two generations largely due to powerful family systems that don’t exist in Black communities. The motivation to use education to achieve results is stronger among immigrants than Blacks. While immigrants have been able to use education to climb the social ladder, Blacks have not. @Ah-Teen- No, I didn’t say that every conservative is a racist, nor would I argue that no liberals are racists either. But the conservative agenda does promote racism and ethnic exclusion, even if most conservatives don’t want to admit that. Now you make an argument about salaries. I would argue that many can’t get jobs. When you have a large percentage of the black population getting tossed in jail- often for minor crimes or, as the article above points out, for crimes they didn’t commit, than their chances for getting jobs goes down. In many countries, prisoners are given job training to help them transition out of prison to better jobs. Most of those programs have been cut (- need I say, during the Bush years), giving prisoners a better chance to live. Darkcorp and you are suggesting salaries. Ok, let’s look at McDonald’s again- http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=McDonald's_Corp/Hourly_Rate Given that most won’t make $10 an hour, X 40 hours a week- 400, 52 weeks a year, and that’s $20,800, minus taxes, and we’re probably talking $15K or so a year. Family of 4? That’s below the poverty guidelines. http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_1327.html It’s worse if you’re in New York. And that’s if you can get a job. SO the person works two jobs- Maybe Mom works at McDonald and also as a cleaning lady in New York where she makes 15K a year. Of course she doesn’t spend time with her children, so that whole family structure thing craps crapped on. She might be making 40K, with a family of 4 in an urban community where it costs maybe $1.50 to take the subway or a bus to work? (you’d be better off working construction- http://www.indeed.com/salary/Construction-Worker.html) You can’t save money if you don’t have it. And most of the poor are not college age kids who are transitioning to something better. These are poor families trying to make ends meet. Oh and the conservative Republicans (the “good Christians”) won’t allow these kids basic healthcare. What a bunch of motherfuckers. Good morale occurs when people like where they work and they make enough not to worry about making ends meet.