“Even though our American future depends on finding common ground, many white Americans resist relinquishing the sense of entitlement skin color has given them throughout our national history. They lack an understanding of the emerging dynamics of one world, even in the United States, because to them nonwhites always have been the other. On top of that, people of different races often don’t listen to each other on the subject of race. It is as if we’re all experts, locked into our narrow views and preferring to be wrong than risk changing those views. Black Americans ask of Asian Americans, ‘What is the problem? You are doing well economically.’ Black Americans believe that Latinos often fail to find common ground with their historic struggle, and some Latino Americans agree, questioning whether the black civil-rights model is the only path to progress. White Americans continue to harbor absurd stereotypes of all people of color, and black Americans take white criticism of individual acts as an attempt to stigmatize all black Americans. We seem to be more interested in defending our racial territory than recognizing we could be enriched by another race’s perspective.
In politics for the last 25 years, silence or distortion has shaped the issue of race and urban America. Both political parties have contributed to the problem. Republicans have played the race card in a divisive way to get votes. Remember Willie Horton? And Democrats have suffocated discussion of self-destructive behavior among the minority population in a cloak of silence and denial. The result is that yet another generation has been lost. We cannot affort to wait longer. It is time for candor, time for truth, and time for action ...’'
From a speech on “Race and the American City,’' delivered in the U.S. Senate on March 26, 1992.
A version of this article appeared in the May 13, 1992 edition of Education Week as Worth Noting