[Sixth National Conference of Friends on Race Relations Booklet] Page: 6 of 16
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docile in the world. The Negroes are upsetting this
The tactics of white power include a broad spectrum
depending on the issue and the situation. It invites
encyclopedic treatment-but I will try not to be ency-
clopedic. Lets narrow it down and give a close look at
one field: employment.The Civil Rights Act of 1964 said
that there shall be no discrimination in employment.
Most big companies have some 'demonstration Ne-
groes' which prove that they are an 'Equal Opportun-
ity Employer'. Negroes who are college graduates with
a major in mathematics or science do have more op-
portunities than they did a few years ago, especially if
they are nice looking and talk and dress like white
The communications media promote the idea that
employment for Negroes is going great guns by playing
up and exaggerating the importance of Negro successes
-the first Negro to do this or that.
The fact is that employment for Negroes as a whole
has not improved, has in fact gone backward. The un-
employment rate for Negroes is twice as high as for
whites and for Negro youth it is four times as high.
These are the official figures. The real discrepancy is
much greater. If a person gets discouraged and quits
trying to get a job-if he falls out of the job market-
he is no longer counted as unemployed. And another
group that isn't counted are the youth who are disil-
lusioned before they try and never do try to get a job.
This is a large and growing group, but they aren't
counted as 'unemployed' either. This is one of the sub-
tleties of white bookkeeping.
What are the roadblocks to Negro employment?
You really can't separate the factors of inferior schools,
ghetto slums and unemployment. But let's begin with
the poor schools. Negro schools are consistently infer-
ior to white schools. This keeps Negroes from having
access to good jobs and to good training programs.
There have been 'traditionally Negro jobs' and this
is the field where, because of automation, jobs are dry-
ing up the fastest. And there is great resistance from
labor unions, from employers and from those already
employed, to opening up formerly ,white' jobs to
Sometimes the discrimination seems to be quite legal
and simply makes use of an established practice. For
example in federal civil service, appointments must be
made from the top three on the list. If a Negro in the
top three is passed over he is still in the top three-but
he can be passed over again and again. In some labor
unions to get on as an apprentice you have to be spon-
sored by a member. If there are no Negro members the
chance of a Negro being sponsored is not very good.
But legal loopholes aren't necessary. The ingenuity
of white power doesn't need them. Rudeness, harass-
ment, procrastination 'come back next week' and then
'come back next month' can go on indefinitely.
Putting the burden of legal action charging discrim-
ination, on the applicant, was a smart bit of white
power resourcefulness. A man who helped draft the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (at least he said he did)
bragged about this point in Nashville.
Factories are moving to the suburbs where only
white workers live. Federal contracts locate in areas
where employment opportunites for Negroes are can-
celed out by racial barriers to housing. The location in
Weston, Illinois of an Atomic Energy Commission con-
tract is a recent example. Housing for Negroes is not
available there and the Illinois legislature had just
turned down a fair housing bill.
Public transportation is carefully kept unavailable
to ghetto Negroes, so that it is between difficult and
impossible for them to try to take jobs in the new su-
burban industry. Indeed, the inadequacy of public
transportation is a tool of white power that is too little
recognized. It makes it hard for Negroes to get jobs
and hard for them to keep them. It reinforces the dis-
crimination caused by the housing pattern.
Still talking about the roadblocks Negroes face in
trying to get employment: Our Employment Security
officers are rampant with racist attitudes and methods.
Even if they no longer have a file of 'Negro jobs'
(many of them still do), and no longer have separate
offices for Negro and white applicants, the attitude
still largely prevails that only certain jobs are for
Negroes, mostly menial, and they don't send out
Negroes to apply for what they consider 'white jobs'.
Where they have this 'fine working relationship' em-
ployers often will not hire directly but only through
the office of Employment Security. That is white
Training programs for previous 'white' jobs often
exclude Negroes because they are not 'qualified'. The
training programs for which they are 'qualified' usually
turn out to be in the traditional categories of 'Negro
jobs', which are the lowest paying. Work-training pro-
grams in Negro schools are inferior to those in white
Tests and examinations are geared to white schools
and middle class society and thus eliminate Negroes
from consideration, though often they bear no relation
to the skills needed for the job in question.
Applicants are told that they are 'not qualified'. Or
if they are obviously qualified they are told that they
have 'no experience', although white applicants less
qualified and without experience will be hired and
trained on the job.
I have been talking about some of the individual
manifestations of white power that block Negro em-
ployment. But a far more important and detrimental
use of white power has been the failure to carry out the
Full Employment Act of 1946.
Under this act the federal government is required to
use its resources to maintain full employment. It
should provide a climate in which private enterprise,
state and local governments employ as many as they
can and then if there is any slack in employment the
federal government should take it up.
Here’s what’s next.
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[Sixth National Conference of Friends on Race Relations Booklet], text, July 1967; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth595342/m1/6/: accessed June 3, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Southern University.