If you're a minority and you're suffering from racial inequality, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal thinks it's all your fault:
We have made tremendous progress, but as long as our society is comprised of imperfect human beings, we will always be striving for a more perfect union. We must not let this constant process prevent us from acknowledging the enormous strides we have already made.
Yet we still place far too much emphasis on our “separateness,” our heritage, ethnic background, skin color, etc. We live in the age of hyphenated Americans: Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Native Americans, to name just a few.
Here’s an idea: How about just “Americans?” That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me. Placing undue emphasis on our “separateness” is a step backward. Bring back the melting pot.
There is nothing wrong with people being proud of their different heritages. We have a long tradition of folks from all different backgrounds incorporating their traditions into the American experience, but we must resist the politically correct trend of changing the melting pot into a salad bowl. E pluribus Unum.
For the longest, black Americans really, REALLY wanted to be just plain ol' "Americans." Too bad about the constant, unending and institutionalized push via a variety of social, political and economic forces to keep those African-Americans and others hyphenated not just in name, but also in how they interact with so-called "plain ol' Americans."
For the record, Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans and Indian-Americans can all integrate themselves into the plain ol' American collective by adopting varying degrees of Whiteness™. That's something that hasn't quite been afforded to African-Americans. Or Native-Americans, for that matter.
As Aviva Shen sums things up over at Think Progress:
If he had done even cursory research before writing his editorial, Jindal may have discovered some systemic inequities preventing minorities from assimilating to his satisfaction. Though Jindal is right that Americans have made “significant progress” since the March On Washington For Jobs And Freedom, the national black unemployment rate has steadily remained double the white unemployment rate for the past 60 years.
In urban areas like Chicago, the poverty rate and median income for black families is also about the same as it was in 1963.
Even segregation, once vanquished by the civil rights movement, is rebounding aggressively. Since 2001, urban schools and neighborhoods have become increasingly re-segregated through lax integration enforcement and so-called “white flight.” Research shows this resegregation intensifies poverty and violence in minority neighborhoods, trapping black families in an endless cycle. Jindal himself has helped this trend along in New Orleans with his school privatization plan, which has worsened racial inequality in 34 historically segregated public schools and, according to the Justice Department, “reversed much of the progress made toward integration.”
Instead of digging deep into the historical, social and institutional flaws that have served to cockblock genuine equality and progress, Piyush makes a standard-issue plea for "togetherness" and through his criticism of those who dare hold on to their own cultural identities, subtly blames minorities for not working hard enough to genuinely be a part of America.
A platitude of this magnitude just goes to show how much our friend Piyush is out-of-touch with the realities of being in the "minority" column in the U.S. I know he has to keep those conservative bonafides burnished, as he's done by taking pot-shots at Eric Holder over school vouchers, but come on - you'd figure that someone who had to change his name to meet the minimum standards of acceptability among the unreconstructed should know better.
Then again, I should know better, especially with guys like Allen West around.
Meanwhile, the state of Louisiana leads the world in incarceration. He may want to take a good look at that, too.