Lawrence Guyot Puts Pew Findings in Perspective
A big think tank yesterday found that "blacks’ assessments about the state of black progress in America have improved more dramatically than at any time in the last quarter century."
In a wide-ranging poll, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found, among other things: "Most blacks join with most whites in saying that the two racial groups have grown more alike in the past decade, both in their standard of living and their core values."
Whenever someone puts out a statement saying that we're headed toward a racial utopia, it's time to ring up Lawrence Guyot. The lion of racial and community politics in the District, Guyot, who is black, has been working ANC meetings and church congregations in town since 1976, after an activist career that included helping to found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and sticking his head into every civil rights battle he could show up for.
So, Guyot, what about this finding that most blacks are seeing some form of racial convergence going on?
"Oh, I look at that as expectancy," he says. "That's a glorified, socialized, moral state of expectancy....We would love to believe it," he continues.
In Guyot's view, a post-racial America is not going to come about until.....well, let's turn this into a multiple choice question. All of you Guyot followers will have no trouble with this. Here goes:
In the view of civil rights crusader Lawrence Guyot, what's the most critical first step toward reconciling race relations in this country?
1) Improving social services throughout urban America in an effort to close income gaps between white and black citizens;
2) Reaching a national consensus on affirmative action and other policies that could elevate minorities;
3) Taking a close look at the Kerner Commission Report and pursuing a dialogue based thereupon;
4) Chewing out Bill Clinton for his inexcusable comment about coffee and Barack Obama.
Answer after jump.
Correct answer is 3): Guyot places a great deal of credence on the conclusions and findings of the Kerner report, which was issued in 1968, a time of great racial tension and violence in the United States. The report stated, "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—-separate and unequal."
To be sure, Guyot wouldn't necessarily dismiss the other policy items; he may well feel they're important measures. However, he has long argued for a national dialogue on race—that's just one of his things. And this time, says Guyot, the dialogue needs to go on without one particular individual: "It's very clear to me the need for a national discussion on race and it's very important that the president not be involved in it," says Guyot.
Well, it could get tricky keeping the ol' prez out of a national dialogue. But why is it so important that the country's chief exec stay on the sidelines? "The president is concerned about not antagonizing anyone," says Guyot.