Friday, June 15, 2012

Newspaper's Race-mongering Continues

University of Kentucky President Eli Capiluto took office about a year ago and inherited the same mess endemic to practically all education institutions from public schools right through the universities, to wit, increased expenses coupled with recession-driven cutbacks of governmental funding. He’s now in the process of making the often painful adjustments that should have been initiated years ago. Instead, the former administration and trustees seemed too mesmerized by basketball to see the academic problem.

From the Obama “stimulus,” UK received some $38.5 million over the last two years that was supposed to create vast numbers of new jobs and improve the economy, neither of which has been accomplished. The money simply represented badly needed cash-flow. Now, the chickens have come home to roost and the problem has to be faced squarely.

In a recent message to university personnel, Capiluto explained the problem and enumerated steps to be taken because of it, as well as indicating immediate personnel-reductions amounting to 130 losses of jobs and the non-filling of 164 vacant positions that will help alleviate it. The cuts were made across the board in as fair a way as possible but with the faculty kept intact.

The Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper, which has made deep personnel cuts itself, predictably chose to make this circumstance into a front-page race issue since pension-eligible 65-year-old Chester Grundy, for more than 30 years the director of the UK Martin Luther King Cultural Center, was impacted, though, of course, with the golden parachute provided by the retirement system. Nine members of the administrative/executive/managerial staff, who were at least equal in rank with Grundy, were also laid off but they didn’t make the front page.

The newspaper mentioned that nine of those laid off were within a year of retirement but neglected to mention that they may be granted leaves until their retirement date so they will lose no benefits. Strangely, since it actually neutralizes the racism-thing, the paper messed-up and indicated the ethnicity of those being terminated. Eighty percent are white but only 7.7% are black and just 1.5%, Asian. Nationally, blacks make up about 13% of the population. The paper didn’t mention that UK has a department of African-American studies involving 18 staff and teachers.

The paper cited remarks by two UK graduates, whose Lexington experience didn’t seem to ruin them, one in a letter to Capiluto, though apparently also sent to the paper, and the other in a blog. Both are African-Americans and now professors, the former at Brooklyn College and the latter, Boyce Watkins, at Syracuse University. Watkins wrote, “he [Grundy] is an intelligent and conscientious black man, which is an academic felony on campuses like the University of Kentucky.” The paper should have considered this sophomoric bit of rubbish from a black-racist beneath contempt but apparently thought it was important. Watkins wrote the book, “What if George Bush were a Black Man?.” Nuff said!

The reporter/commentator (or somebody at the paper) interviewed Watkins by phone and quoted the professor as claiming that either UK or Lexington or both (she didn’t say) “was deeply committed to being on the wrong side of history.” Watkins, of course, knows what the right side of history is but he didn’t define it. Neither did the reporter. Indeed, one wonders how history can have two sides – right and wrong. History has nothing – it just is. Watkins knows, though, because he’s discovered that UK is on its wrong side and deeply means to be there. What hogwash! Watkins advertises himself on the Internet as a “Great Black Speaker.” Just call for fee information…when you stop laughing.

Grundy reckoned, according to the paper, that UK focuses on a multicultural agenda that doesn’t have much accountability for past wrongs. What wrongs? Whose wrongs? This is the kind of race-baiting that the community doesn’t need. If Grundy, made eminently successful by UK, was referring to slavery or the pre-1960s era before the rights-legislation and blaming the current generation for either, he was spouting the same old racist taunts to white people who have bent over backwards since the 1950s to practically make African-Americans a privileged class. The result has been disastrous to the black community.

For her part, the reporter/commentator claimed that UK “has had an uneasy relationship with Kentucky’s black community,” and gave as an example, most famously, that a former basketball coach, long since departed, was reluctant to recruit black players. This is an example of how the paper has lost no opportunities to foment racial strife for decades. Dredging-up something like that, especially since there are some actually compelling reasons for tension not just in Lexington but throughout the country, is banal if not childish.

The paper’s African-American publisher is the one man, because of his ethnicity, who could most justifiably put a stop to the paper’s decades-long attempt to make race an issue in Lexington. Instead, he most likely will join the pressure-group that will set out to make Capiluto, now a front-page goat, rehire Grundy…but no one else. Sad!

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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