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May 08, 1981 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1981-05-08

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Page 8-Friday, May 8, 1981-The Michigan Daily
Opinion

4

Page 8

The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCI, No. 3-S
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
sorry legacy
DDRESSING THE annual Teamsters' Con-
A vention in 1976, president Frank Fitzsim-
mons bellowed at his union brothers: "For
those who think and those who would say it is
time to reform this organization, that it is time
that the officers quit selling out the member-
ship of this union, I say, 'Go to hell!'''
Though he swiftly disavowed his declaration
as a tongue-twisted faux pas, Fitzsimmons had
nonetheless subliminally defined the course of
his tenure as Teamsters boss. At the time of his
death Wednesday, both he and his union had
largely come to symbolize everything that has
gone wrong with the labor movement in
America.
Like many of his modern day union com-
patriots, Fitzsimmons seemed to forget the
humble roots he rose from. His reign was, to put
it charitably, undistinguished: Though never
convicted or indicted for personal wrongdoing,
he was conspicuous in his lack of effort to
reform a union which had long been em-
blematic of graft, corruption, and even murder.
Lacking the drive and charisma of his
predecessor Jimmy Hoffa, Fitzsimmons
presided over a steady, decade-long decline in
Teamster membership, as more and more
truckers turned in disgust to more radical
splinter . groups or away from unionism
altogether.
None of this seemed to trouble Fitzsimmons,
who preferred playing footsie with the fat cats
- those of corporate America who were once
labor's most bitter enemies, and those of his
own kind-corpulent union sovereigns who have
come to be almost indistinguishable from the
company tycoons sitting opposite them. An
ignoble legacy at best.

Atlanta's true killers

By Manning Marable
The murder of any single child
is a hideous thing. The
systematic execution of about
two dozen Black children over the
last twenty-one months in Atlanta
has struck a deep vein of grief and
anger within every Black person
in this nation.
The response of the federal,
state and local governments and
white America generally has
bheen cynical, at best. First, there
has been a conscious attempt to
turn the butchery of our children
into a nonracial phenomenon.
This began about two months ago
when many whites began
wearinggreen ribbons on their
lapels, shirts and blouses.
ONCE AGAIN, WHITE liberals
and self-appointed "do-gooders"
can act self-righteous about the
oppression of the Black com-
munity without lifting a single
finger to halt it. The old slogan,
"Some of my best friends are
Negroes" has been preempted by
the green badge of cowardice,
conformity and complacency.
The children'smdeaths have
provided the government with an
opportunity to increase police
surveillance and harassment of
Black Atlanta residents. In
February and March alone, more
than 1500 Black youth were
detained by police for curfew
violations. Police patrols have
increased in recent weeks by 33
percent.
stBlack children are warned con-
stantly by the media, educators,
and local officials to distrust any
Black adult other than their own
parents. Our kids are pressured
by a veil of terror and tears,
afraid to leave their homes and
subconsciously reluctant to trust
any Black authority figure. Many
of these children will carry this
psychological damage for the
remainder of their lives.
Simultaneously, the white
power structure and the Old
Guard Negro leadership in Atlan-
ta have combined forces to calm
the troubled racial waters of
discontent. Black mayor
Maynard Jackson ordered the
suppression of Black residents of
Techwood Homes housing project

who organized a patrol to protect
their children.
Four residents were arrested
on March 20-Chimurenga
Jenga, Gene Fergerson, Modibo
Ups whos biit a oself np...
Kadaliad Jerm Gbs
Jackson condemned the GBask
self-defense group as "vigilan-
tes" whose activities "will not be
tolerated." Police Chief George
Napper charged that Techwood
residents had been agitated hy
"the work of outsiders."
SEVERAL POINTS must be
made on the Atlanta crisis. The
first and foremost observation is
that the killings are a direct
product of white racism. It does
not matter who is actually mur-

dering the Black youth of Atlan-
ta, Georgia. The climate of white
racism and political repression
has nurtured the social pathology
of the killer or killers. If and
when the murderers are caught,
whether Black or white, we must
still charge the U.S. government,
the police, and the politicians
with tne crimes against our
people.
Second, Black demonstrations
and marches are needed to
illustrate our collective outrage.
In New York City, on March 15,
about 20,000 people demonstrated
in a candlelight march. In San
Francisco that same night, hun-
dreds attended a protest
gathering at the Federal
Building. When the Reverend
Amos Brown; pastor of Bethel
A.M.E. Church asked the crowd
"Who's killing the children of
Atlanta?" the audience replied:
"It's the government! It's the
police!"
We must understand that
Atlanta is not unusual. It is the
norm rather than the exception.
Weeks ago, a 19 year old Black
youth, Michael Donald, was
savagely beaten to death and
then lynched on a plastic rope by
whites. The local white
authorities insist that the hanging
was not racially motivated.
Meanwhile, the murderer(s) of
Buffalo's Black men, two of
whom were beaten to death and
had theirahearts ripped out, is
still at large. New York City's
white slasher who stabbed Black
men on the streets and subways
during Christmas remains free.
And Ronald Reagan's nightmare
budget, with its cutbacks in
welfare, jobs, and other critical
human services, will kill more
black children in the long run
than an army of Atlanta mur-
derers.
We still live in the shadow of
death in America. The next Black
child to die could be that of our
neighbors or friends. The next
Black child could be your own.
Manning Marable teaches
political economy at the
African Studies Center at
Cornell University.

4

I

I

Violence no answer

6

SAA<'21E &6cs

To the Daily:
I had to comment on the letter
from Malika a. Mutakabbir
dated April 17. The author
described his four years at the
University, years allegedly
tinged with racism. This is cer-
tainly a valid contention worthy
of airing in print. Yet, Mutakab-
bir goes on to say that he can un-
derstand, in view of this overt
racism, why alleged murderer
Leo Kelly, Jr. "reacted the way
he did." What nonsense! There is

no instance in which murder or education obviously has failed to
violence can be rationalized or teach Mutakabbir the process by
legitimized. which to vent a grievance against
Truly, I feel great pity for an policy or attitudes. Nowhere in
individual, who after having this process is there room for a
completed four years at the gun, nor a legitimization of a
University of Michigan, can violent, senseless act.
make such an absurd statement, -Karre L. Slafkin
a statement so thoroughly May 7
lacking in thought. A college
Letters to the Daily should be typed, triple-spaced,
with inch margins. All submissions must be signed
by the individual author(s).

40

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