Unasked Questions

Unasked Questions

By Patrick F. Cannon

Indulge me while I tell you a story. Before I retired 20 years ago, I was the manager of  communications for the largest association of its kind in the world. As such, over the years I hired dozens of writers, editors and graphic artists. Although I occasionally had to hire a senior manager, most of these hires were for entry level jobs. Most applicants were graduates of journalism schools, or schools with public relations majors.

            These kinds of hires are handled quite differently today, but in those days the personnel department would sift though the sometimes hundreds of resumes we would receive and send me candidates whose education and background actually fit the position. Although we didn’t keep records of this, I would guess that 75 percent were from women, based solely on the names. I almost never received a resume from an African-American. Obviously, we didn’t ask what race the applicant was, but having lived in Chicago and its suburbs most of my life, I had a feel for both typical names and addresses.

            We got very few, so I was pleased to get a resume from an applicant who was a likely African-American, and a male to boot.  Both his cover letter and resume were well written; and when he came in for an interview, he was just as impressive. Because I thought it was important for the association to have more African-Americans (we had numerous Hispanics and Asians), I talked my boss into letting me offer him a couple of thousand dollars a year more than was usual. But he got a much better offer elsewhere and we lost him.

            Over the years, we employed three major PR firms to do some of our work. They made even more concerted efforts to hire qualified African-Americans, but I recall only seeing two over the years, one of whom worked on our account. The reason was simple: journalism and public relations programs at colleges and universities were simply not attracting many African-Americans. Those who did major in these areas were snapped up by news rooms and agencies hungry to prove they valued diversity in their organizations. Many became adornments to their professions.

            So, my response to articles on the lack of diversity in industries and professions has always been to ask this simple question: how many qualified minority candidates are denied jobs only because of their race or national origin? What we get in articles and features instead is: African-Americans are 13.4 percent of the US population. Why aren’t 13.4 percent of screenwriters, or directors, or sound technicians, or set decorators (to take only the movies as an example) African-American?  That’s it – the implication being that racism is the only reason. They never ask the obvious next question: how many are denied jobs they are educated and otherwise qualified for simply because they’re African-American?  Or women? Or Hispanics?

            One article you won’t see – if non-Hispanic whites comprise 60 percent of the population, why aren’t 60 percent of NFL and NBA players white? Or 60 percent of jazz musicians, or pop singers? While your died-in-the-wool racist hates to see any African-American succeed, most people accept the fact that African-Americans both want to do these things, and indeed excel at them.

            Since I’ve actually read and studied our history extensively, I fully realize how racism has stained it. I also know that, beginning when President Truman desegregated the armed forces in 1948, progress has been made in redressing the balance. To deny this is to deny the struggles of so many African-Americans and, yes, whites of good faith, to eliminate institutional racism. For example, the dropout rate for African-Americans has gone from 15.2 percent in 2010 to 7.9 percent this year. Last year, the unemployment rate for blacks was 5.5 percent; it was 14 percent in 2000.

            My son suggests the reason that obvious next question is rarely asked is simply because news organizations do not permit their reporters to ask them, lest asking will somehow be seen as racist. I presume this is their thinking (if one can use that word): if 13.4 percent of the population is black, then if 13.4 percent of civil engineers aren’t black, then it must be racism that is keeping them from getting their share of the jobs. It never seems to occur to them to discover how many blacks want to be and are educated as civil engineers, but are not hired because of their race.

            If reality did intrude into today’s journalism, pointing out the low numbers of blacks in a branch of engineering that provides the most jobs, has a median income of nearly $90,000 a year, and is projected to grow at a steady eight percent a year, might encourage young African-American men and women to consider this profession. Or not; that’s their decision.

            Regrettably, we live in an era when too many news organizations believe they must advocate rather than report the news impartially. They need to learn that being “woke” isn’t the same as being awake.

Copyright 2021, Patrick F. Cannon

3 thoughts on “Unasked Questions

  1. As eloquently and precisely defined by a mutual former boss, systemic racism is “a bunch of crap.”

    It’s a political narrative. In earlier decades it was a social reality. Now, it exists merely as faint and superficial traces: a logo, a name, a carelessly uttered word.

    The Civil Rights Law was passed in 1964, with solid opposition from Democrats and only with the support of a majority of Republicans.

    Little did Republicans realize, but Democrats, who up till then had done everything they could to maintain slavery, Jim Crow and systemic racial segregation, would never forgive them for this, and they would to this day smear their character with the vilest racial accusations.

    Their animus previously targeted at Blacks, Jews, Catholics and other convenient groups of Americans, Democrats now solidly leftist, wealthy and connected elites direct their righteous cynicism at whites — especially white males, those with lower levels of education, rural residents and churchgoers — by labeling them racist supremacists,

    As a former liberal Democrat, I find this appalling, indeed a betrayal of our American principles of democracy. The doctrine of identity politics has become so ingrained in our social discourse and institutions — law, medicine, increasingly the sciences, academia, sports, journalism, even our frickin’ highway system — that anyone who dares question or contradict its precepts is immediately attacked as wrong, uninformed and misguided, if not censored, fired and in some cases subjected to criminal indictment.

    Want to do business with the City of Chicago? Los Angeles? Philadelphia? Better not tell them you’re Republican.

    The news business is just one element of this national pathology. It’s generally known that media corporations, in addition to being the mouthpiece of the Democrat Party, also do lucrative business with the leftist CCP regime. The NYT (Carlos Sims who works with Huaweh owns 17.4%), Washington Post (Bezos aims to expand his Amazon empire in China), CNN (owned by Warner Media which through Turner Sports operates the NBA), MSNBC/NBC, and ABC’s Disney and ESPN are all heavily invested in China through the CCP.

    The idea of an independent, free American press — with rare exceptions like the WSJ, Salem radio media and maybe Fox News — is a fantasy. Systemic racism, despite the facts, fits the Democrat narrative from the toxic 1619 Project to Critical Race Theory.

    Kenosha yes, Waukesha no. In one, a trigger-happy white supremacist killed; in the other, it was ….. an SUV!

    .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My theory is that when newspapers were owned by individuals or families, they could run things as they saw fit. They could afford to let the reporters do their job, so long as they ran the editorial pages.

      Like

      1. That’s a plausible theory. Problem is, that model is now mostly gone. The news media long ago stopped functioning as reliable sources of information for the American public, and now exist to influence public opinion, whether for political, ideological or financial motives. Some might charitably call their product propaganda, which in its original sense meant propagation or promotion. Others more bluntly might call it purposeful misinformation, or better, falsehoods in the guise of fact. I sometimes think of the news media as epitomized by Jen Psaki, a faceless, bloodless, pre-programmed word machine. And you know the news is pre-programmed because they echo each other, often verbatim. At least with editorials, you know it’s opinion and can assess the authors and their veracity. Caveat lector!

        Liked by 1 person

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