City Desk

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.

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  • joseph young

    Ralph Nader’s New Book and Comments about Obama
    Consumer advocate Ralph Nader accused President Obama of yielding readily to pressure from the health care and drug industries.
    “He had to take them on. He doesn’t like to take on corporate power,” Mr. Nader said. “He’s a harmony type person. That’s the problem because in Washington you got to take on corporate power. They control the city.”
    Mr. Nader is among a growing number of leaders on the left who are disappointed with President Obama’s compromises on the health care reform bill which will likely reach his desk early this year.
    “He should have put forth a single payer [system] just like in HR676. It was already in the House and had 80 House Democrats behind it” said Mr. Nader, the four time presidential candidate. “Instead, he pulled the rug from under it, saying it wasn’t practical. Which is his way of saying you can’t fight the insurance companies and the drug industry. And [President Obama] went with this mishmash.”
    Mr. Nader’s remarks were made in an interview in Union Station where he was promoting his latest book, “Only the Super-Rich Can Save US!”
    Although the election was decidedly over a little more than a year ago, memories of Mr. Nader’s bid for the presidency drew a steady stream of passersby to the book promotion. Fans were there on Tuesday and Wednesday, just days before Christmas admiring Mr. Nader as he signed his 730 page fictional narrative at the Hudson News stand, across from Amtrak’s boarding gates. The location was a good choice, since hundreds of people were there lined up to get home or start holiday travel.
    Weary travelers took notice of Mr. Nader. He mugged for pictures taken with cell phones, signed autographs and shook hands.
    Not many of his fans there had actually voted for Mr. Nader, however.
    “Early on I went with the Clintons,” Mr. Page Pendleton said. “Finally, I was with Obama because I always want to be a winner.”
    In his book, Mr. Nader shows readers how they can become winners. He depicts 17 super-rich Americans, including Warren Buffet, Ted Turner and George Soros, who meet in a hotel room in Hawaii and plan to put big money and muscle behind the American electorate. They mobilize the people of this country to take on corporate giants and their political allies.
    “I thought I’d write this book to elevate people’s imagination about how to make change in this country,” Mr. Nader said. “It’s long over due.”
    Mr. Nader also was confronted by detractors who claimed he was a spoiler in the 2000 presidential race. In Florida, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes. Mr. Nader received 97,421 votes, which led to claims that he was responsible for Gore’s defeat.
    Mr. Nader was a four-time presidential candidate, having run unsuccessfully as an independent candidate in 2008 and 2004, and a Green Party candidate in 2000 and 1996.
    “Don’t run again,” the passer-by said. In Mr. Nader’s fiction the left wins.