February 16, 2010

Gazette Piece A Disservice to Race Issues

Yesterday's Niagara Gazette article about minority hiring in the City of Niagara Falls was an interesting look at current and past hiring practices within the school district, the police and fire departments and within the city itself. The piece also incorporates commentary from members of the minority community, including Rev. Harvey Kelley, the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church on Buffalo Avenue and Bill Bradberry, chairman of the city’s human rights commission and president of the local chapter of the NAACP.

The piece looks at a plethora of statistical data, breaking down the employment ratios of each of the entities by race. It also includes statements from leaders of the city, the police and fire departments and the school district. The common theme throughout the piece is that each of the entities must to a better job of increasing minority hiring. We agree - the employees of a municipality should represent the population of the municipality.

What the article fails to address is why the city, the school district, the police department and the fire department do not have the level of minority employees that mirrors the make-up of the population. At no time does it appear that any of the reporters who contributed to the story, Mark Scheer, Rick Pfeiffer and Nick Mattera, asked the question that needed to be asked to complete the story: "To what do you attribute the disparity between the community's population and the lack of minorities on each of the entity's payroll?" It's not exactly irrelevant, and frankly, it's disingenuous not to ask the question. Yes, it's easy to fill columns and columns of a newspaper with facts and figures, but it does little to get to the heart of the issue.

Maybe minorities are not applying for positions. Maybe they are aware of the positions, but are not interested in working for any of the entities. Maybe the residency requirements discourage people from applying. But more likely than not minorities in the city are not applying for any of these positions because we've cultivated generations of welfare recipients who find it easier to stay home and have the taxpayers subsidize every aspect of their lives.

As the piece states, "Bradberry believes the city could do a better job of promoting the availability of jobs to minority candidates and should be doing more to help minority candidates navigate their way through the Civil Service process. " Why? Do you believe that minorities are less capable of finding what jobs are available and applying for those jobs than whites? Because that's certainly what you're implying when you state that a group of people should get extra help based solely on the color of their skin.

If last year's presidential election taught us anything, it taught us that any person, regardless of race, creed, color or religious belief can become the most powerful man in the world. No one is denied the opportunity to be anything he wants to be. But no one should be giving anyone anything. I go to work every day and I don't ask anyone for a handout. Why should someone, simply because of their race, get help navigating his way through anything? Everyone has the same opportunity. If one person takes advantage of the opportunity and one person doesn't why should the person who doesn't get on iota of sympathy?

The blame doesn't lie with the respective administrations. It lies with a society and a culture that not only discourages people from going out and being productive members of society, but rewards them to stay home, reproduce and continue to burden society. Until that mindset changes, along with the sense of entitlement that accompanies it, puff pieces like the Gazette story do nothing to address the issue. And that's a shame.

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