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December 09, 1980 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-12-09

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q

OPINION
Page 4 Tuesday, December 9, 1980 The Michigan Daily

I

Eehe trigan
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

The odds against staying alive
if you are young and black

'

Vol. XCI, No.79

420nMaynard St.
Ann Arbor, Ml148109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

The JFK m'ystery lingers

ver since a gloomy November after-
noon in Dallas 17 years ago,
Americans have been plagued by a
host of unpleasant and . discomfiting
questions. The Warren Commission
told us shortly after President Ken-
nedy's death that he had been killed by
one unhappy, one-time Communist, ac-
ting alone. When"Jack Ruby pulled the
trigger ending Lee Harvey Oswald's
life, we were to understand, the issue
was closed.
But not quite. Scores of books and-ar-
ticles began to come out examining the
findings of the Warren Commission. A
few were hysterical aid unreasoned,
but others raised some salient
questions. Why had observers on the
scene in Dallas looked toward the
grassy knoll in front of the presidential
motorcade, rather than at the Texas
Book Depository, where Oswald had
supposedly been firing from? Why did
some think there had been four shots,
when Oswald could not possibly have
fired more than three times? Why did
'the trajectory of the bullets indicate
that the president had been fired upon
from more than one direction? Why
had Oswald been brought into such a
perilous situation before he had even
been formally charged?
Questions about the Warren verdict
were for many years considered
unrespectable in the Washington
establishment. Even those who had
some lingering questions about what'
had happened in Dallas seemed to
prefer to put the matter behind them.

Finally, though, the nagging
questions just got to be too much, and
federal legislative committees opened
hearings to attempt to uncover the
whole truth about the Dallas
assassinations. After months of
examining evidence from many dif-
ferent sources-including, crucially, a
tape that was turned on during the in-
cident-the committee found that
there had indeed been at least two
assassins.
The Federal Bureau of In-
vestigation, which had been among the
groups reluctant to open the issue
again in the first place, unsurprisingly
claimed last week that, for a variety of
technical reasons, the finding was
mistaken. The Bureau maintains that
Oswald killed Kennedy on his own.
As of Sunday, though, the ball is once
again in the other court. The FBI agent
who monitored Oswald's activities in
Dallas in 1963, James Hosty, says that
documents detailing a meeting bet-
ween the supposed assassin and a
Soviet agent were removed from
Oswald's file shortly after Kennedy's
death. Again, it looks as if someone
wanted to keep any suggestion of con-
spiracy a secret.
JFK's assassination is a painful
topic for most of us; but we ought not to
rest until we know more about it than
we do now. There may be some dank,
unpleasant skeletons lurking in the
American closet, but they aren't spec-
tres we can afford to run away from
any jonger.

OAKLAND-While residents of Atlanta
worry about the unsolved murders of 11 black
children, black parents here in East Oakland
live with a less dramatic but no less ugly fact:
For every 100 babies born in this im-
poverished neighborhood, at least two will
probably be dead before the end of a year.
Unsolved murders of children in Atlanta.
Inf t deaths in East Oakland. Two different
kinds of problems, admittedly. But in
disparate ways, both express what remains a
chilling fact of life for American black
families in 1980: If you are a black child in the
United States today, you have a significantly
less than average chance of surviving to your
21st birthday.
EVEN IN THE aggregate, the statistics are
daunting. According to government figures,
nonwhite children in the U.S. remain nearly
50 percent more likely than white children to
die before they reach the age of 20. And often
death is violent. Between the ages of 15 and
19, nonwhite males are falling victim to mur-
der at nearly five times the national rate.
At a time when signs of violence against
black Americans grow more overt and gover-
nment involvement in the problems seems no
longer guaranteed, black families in areas
like East Oakland are struggling to find new
ways of overcoming the obstacles that
threaten not only the growth but even the
barest survival of their young.
"They look at the Ku Klux Klan activity and
the Nazi activity and Reagan's election,"
says Mary Duryee, director of the East
Oakland Youth and Family Center, "and they
say, 'Buckle down! Hard times are
coming.'"
"YOU HAVE TO BE creative," says Mary
Gilbert, an East Oakland mother who has just
put three daughters through the city's public
school system.
But for many families, this creativity is
matched against almost insurmountable od-
ds.
The hazards facing black children manifest
themselves early in rates of infant death,
which even at present run nearly twice as
high for nonwhite children as for white (East
Oakland's rate of 23.4 deaths per 1,000 births
is exceptionally high, but not typical for such
disadvantaged neighborhoods).
Behind the infant death rate lies a plethora
of interrelated problems: poorly nourished
mothers; a chronic shortage of physicians in
ghetto and poor rural areas; inadequate pre-
and post-natal care; and, not least of all,
psychological stress on poor and frequently
single mothers.
"Many of the parents are struggling them-
selves to make it," notes Duryee.
IN 1978 BLACK babies were more than
twice as prone as white babies to be born with
low birth weight and 40 percent more likely to
be delivered without the aid of a physician.
And even for the children who survive the
first year of life, prospects are hardly smooth.

By Patrick Glynn
Health statistics show that nonwhite children
are more likely than white children to die
from the whole series of diseases that afflict
the young. And health will remain a problem
throughout adulthood. The nonwhite
adolescent is five times more likely to die of
asthma, twice as likely to die of appendicitis,
70 percent more likely to die of pneumonia,
twice as likely to die of cardiovascular
disease.
"It's beginning to be like a tombstone (in
the inner cities)," notes sociologist Charles
King, director of the Urban Crisis Center in.
Atlanta. King is angered that grief among
white parents over Atlanta's murdered black
children shows no signs of translating into a
broader concern for these more persistent
problems facing the young.
"It is a note of irony," he says, "that a dead
child or a missing child (in Atlanta) would tug
at the heartstrings of white people, yet to
those children who are not missing or dead
and who are suffering problems ranging from
malnutrition to infant death-there seems to
be no open or outward concern forthem."
POOR NUTRITION plays an important
part in the pattern of premature death among
black children, but the difficulty of obtaining
medical care is also critical. At a time when
the Bakke decision threatens minority ad-
missions to medical schools, doctors remain
desperately scarce in neighborhoods like
East Oakland, and the scarcity manifests it-
self in sometimes subtle ways.'
A 1977 University of Michigan survey foun-
d that black Americans were twice as likely
as white Americans to spend over an hour in a
doctor's office waiting for treatment, and
even longer waits in East Oakland doctor's of-
fices are not uncommon.
Neglected and perhaps soon even deserted
by a host of social institutions which routinely
serve the needs of white middle-class
families, poor black families are increasingly
being thrown back on their own resources.
Yet these resources are not insubstantial.
"Black families have a unique resource in
the extended family," observes Michael
Roosevelt, a counselor who works with
Duryee in East Oakland. "It's an excellent
support system."
INDEED, DURYEE notes that those
families in East Oakland with an extended
network of relatives frequently fare the best.
But she also emphasized the strengths-and
the trials-of single black mothers.
"These mothers are valiant tryers," she
says. "They don't stop from morning to night.
But they operate on such a tight schedule that
any monkey wrench thrown into the works
means disaster."
In such families, where fathers may be ab-
sent and the mother works outside the home,
money and parental time remain chronically

short. For many single black mothers, accor-
ding to Duryee, events that would be "small
problems" for the middle-class-a missed
bus, an episode at school, a child with an
unexpectly large appetite or a minor
illness-frequently prove "monumental."
Against one pervasive problem the family
remains comparatively defenseless. For
black children death by violence is not, as it is
for most middle-class whites, merely an out-
side possibility. Among black male teenagers
murder is the second most common cause of
death, and it becomes the major cause of
death when they enter young adulthood.
GIRLS FARE LITTLE better. In 1978 black
girls between 16 and 19 were three times more
likely to be raped than their white counter-
parts.
In 1977 the Justice Department found that
only 38, percent of black Americans con-
sidered their neighborhoods "very safe" for
daytime travel.
.It is partly against this background of
danger that the emergence of gangs is to be
understood.
Faced with a family i borne down by
economic pressures and a landscape per-
meated with a violence from which there ap-
pear to be fewer and fewer routes of escape,
some youths turn to gang membership as the
only apparent active alternative to passive
victimizatiqn.
IN A 1977 study of young black males in
Philadelphia, sociologist Leonard Savitz. of
Temple University found that a significant
portion of his subjects expected they would be
murdered before the ago of 25. A sizeable por-
tion of these'youths described the various set-
tings in their environment-schoolyards,
buses, streets--as dangerous.
But significantly, gang membership did not
increase, but rather reduced their fear of
violence.
"The gang provides a protective structure,
a form of support," acknowledges Paul
Green, Oakland's assistant chief of probation,
"when it's not available in the family."
The gang emerges alongside the family and
the extended family as yet another structure
to fill the void left by major social in-
stitutions-though the gang is a structure
which in the end 'could contribute to further
violence and fragmentation within the com-
munity.
"The kids (in East Oakland) have
aspirations-the American dream, you might
say," says Roosevelt.
But by now, adds Michele Samual, another
Family Center counselor, children and paren-
ts are beginning to feel, "Hey, we're sick of
this-sick of being under the hammer."
Patrick Glynn, a\former instructor at
Harvard, specializes on education and
youth for the Pacific News Service, for
which he wrote this article.

6
6
/
6

I
I

Keep the CIA on a leash

O NCE AGAIN, members of
President-elect Ronald Reagan's
transition team have given disturbing
indications of a new era of American
intervention. First, it was Reagan's
foreign policy advisor Richard Allen
who suggested that America might in-
tervene in Poland. Now, it's Reagan's
transition team on intelligence, which
issued a report calling for a
reorganization of the Central In-
telligence Agency, adding a new em-
phasis on covert operations both at
home and abroad.
Unfortunately, if we are to learn
from the CIA's history, increased
covert activity usually translates into
intervention in the affairs of other
nations and in the lives of American
citizens.
r Reagan's transition team seems in-
tent on negating the positive controls
and reforms placed on the CIA in
recent years. Now that we have finally

wrestled with and leashed the agency,
the Reagan team wants to cut the rope.
But history has proved that when the
CIA is given a free hand, its hand does
not remain clean for very long.
The CIA has a very messy history
both at home and abroad. It has top-
pled foreign governments in Chile and
Iran, and has intervened in the affairs
of a number of other South American
countries. It has been very creative in
attempts to assassinate Cuban leader
Fidel Castro and in masterminding the
Bay of Pigs debacle in-1961. Its record
at home is little better, with a rich
history of surveillance and spying on
American citizens.
And now, Reagan's transition team
suggests that we revitalize the CIA,
arming it with new freedom from
restraints. If Reagan decides to adopt
the team's proposal, we can all look
forward to a new step back in time to
the wonderful days of Manifest Destiny
and American might making right.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Carols for a Vietnamese Christmas.

I

THlE MIL'AKEE JO '"..AAIL,,;

To the Daily:
Ten years ago, while living in
Watertown, New York a recently
discharged Air Force veteran
from Vietnam handed me some
parodies of Christmas songs
which he said were being cir-
culated in Vietnam during his
stay there. He did not know who
wrote them.
Because the war drums are
beating again I thought it would
be appropriate to circulate them
again as I did ten years ago, to
show what the disillusioned
youths in our Air Force thought of
the war just ten years ago.
CHRISTMAS CAROLS FOR 1970
(To the tune of "Deck the Halls")
Spray the town and kill the people,
Drop your napalm on the square;
Take off early in the morning,
Get them while they're still at
prayer.
Drop some candy to the orphans,
Watch them as they gather round;
Use your 20 millimeter,
Mow the little bastards down.

Spray the town and kill the people,
Get them with your poison gas;
Watch them throwing up their
breakfasts,
As you make your second pass.
See them line up in the market,
Waiting for their pound of rice;
Hungry, skinny, starving people,
Isn't killing harvests nice?
(To the tune of "Joy To the World")
Death to the land, the bombers
come,
Let flesh receive their sting;
Let every man, woman, and child,
Dive in the nearest ditch,
Dive in the nearest ditch,
Dive in, dive in, the nearest ditch.
Napalm has come, and brightly
burns
On woman, babe, and beast;
Let every village with thatched
huts
Light up the crimson sky,
Light up the crimson sky,
Light up, light up, the crimson sky.

Killing, though bad, upgrades our
ranks,
Increases pay and brass;
To sergeants, captains, majors,
andgenerals'so brave,
Let larger pensions come,
Let larger pensions come,
Let larger, let larger, pensions
come.
Drop bigger bombs; search and
destroy;
What if old men are killed?
Poison their rice and trees,
deform their babies, too;
How can the strong be wrong?
How can the strong be wrong?
How can, how can, the strong be
wrong?

(To the tune of "Silent Night,
Holy Night")
Silent night, holy night?
Is all calm though all is bright?
Round yon village mother and
child;
Death and ashes, wailing wild;
Daddy's dead and gone; daddy's
dead and gone.
Silent night, holy night?
Something's wrong; all's not right;
When God's children kill and burn
While for peace mankind doth
yearn;
God have mercy upon us, mercy
upon us we pray.
-Graham R. Hodges
December 1

America 's war bl'inders

Workplace democracy

To the Daily:
USA versus WAR
1. Had others followed William
Penn, it would have been dif-
ferent with the Indians.
2. The revolution, which was a
revolt of Virginia slaveowners,
imposes an imperial presidency
with power greater than English
parliament and British colonial
office.
3. Abraham Lincoln, a har-
dliner whose election
precipitated secession and the
Civil War, worsens the lot of
blacks. They did not gain liberty
until the civil rights movement of
1960s.
4. The American entry into
W^"] War T ,.t-lamatad m..ard

Roosevelt sends American youth
to Europe and Asia to die. Who is
responsible for Pearl Harbor?
After that tragedy, a limited
engagement on a few Pacific
islands suffices.
6. Roosevelt policy of uncon-
ditional surrender, no-holds-
barred, unlimited war, results in
atom bomb, and thermonuclear
cliff at which we now live out the
brief days of our precarious lives.
7. Korea and Vietnam are
military disasters.
8. In 1980, Japan, with a vast
industrial machine, looks to
China's nuclear deterrent.
9. Europe's 400 million, with in-
credible industrial might, rely on
nuwlear deterrent of Rritain and

r,
r fr momop
dome

To the Daily:
Much is being written and prin-
ted about the victory of Tweedle-
dee over Tweedle-dum, the
Republicans overthe Democrats.
Despite the political camouflage,
the conservatives and the liberals
are the two sides of the capitalist
coin of production for profits for a

opt for a better governmental
structure.
A new form of industrial
democracy based on the working
electorate voting where they
work could justify a new
declaration of independence from
our political woes. The privileged
status of the non-working rich

i

.J

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