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It would also stem from recognizing that most of the defi-
Robert Jacobs, a Negro witness in San Francisco, said that the black nationalists were telling Negroes they cannot rely upon white liberals to correct unjust conditions:
Now, what black nationalist groups are telling them is
Earle Williams said that Negroes were attempting to organize and control their own lives:
In other words, we are not sitting back any more and
Mr. Becks explained what the concept of "black power" meant for people living in the heavily Negro area of East Palo Alto, a community isolated from surrounding white communities (despite attempts by Negro leaders for annexation) and poorly governed by the county:
I think the people are saying two things. They are saying
Now on the other hand, if you do not mean integration
Asked whether the people in East Palo Alto were becoming disillusioned about the likelihood of creating an integrated society, Mr. Becks replied: "I don't think many people in the East Palo Alto area visualize anything like an integrated society."
A young Negro militant, Earl Anthony, testified that instead of going into the black communities, white people should "fight the racism in their own areas, because this is where the major battle is, in the white communities, rather than in the black communities." 26
Walter Robinson said he thought "the black people in this country have been trying for the past 400 or so years to achieve their goals within the democratic process, and I think there is a lot of disagreement on how well they have succeeded." " He said:
We would like to be able to proceed along the established
Mr. Comfort warned white people not to ask "why" when disorders erupted in the cities:
So when things blow in the city people sit back and
want to know why, and all the time we're telling you
Robert Jacobs thought that white people "are going to have to start looking at these people as human beings, rather than Negroes. They are going to have to realize that this is not just a Potrero Hill problem or a Negro problem. They are going to have to realize this is an American citizen's problem. This is an American social ill and something has to be done about it, and unless we find some effective means of communicating, breaking down these emotional walls that we have over there, we haven't seen half the problems we are going to have."
Although few white Americans have had first hand contact with Negro slums or Mexican American "barrios," in recent months they have become generally familiar with the tangible facts of ghetto life. They have read about or been made aware of the meanness of the surroundings and the poverty-the deteriorated housing, the rats, the unemployment, the vice and crime. What is not visible to the eye and what apparently is not generally understood is the feeling of many Negro ghetto residents that they live in a "trap" from which they cannot escape. The life of the slum dweller-physically bare-is characterized by frustration, despair and hopelessness. He has a sense of powerlessness and a feeling of inability to communicate his own problems, control his own destiny or influence persons in positions of authority.
For many ghetto residents, the symbol of white authority is the policeman, who, in their view, has often not provided protection for citizens within the ghetto, does not treat them with dignity and respect and views his role as that of keeping Negroes "in line" on behalf of the white community. In the view of ghetto residents the attitude of local government is exemplified by the inadequacy of sanitation services, and by the absence of needed health and recreational facilities and the transportation services that would make them accessible. The symbols of the white business community are the merchant who sells inferior merchandise or who exploits the economic dependence of Negroes by providing credit at exorbitant rates, and the absentee landlord who reduces services and allows property to deteriorate once Negroes be
It would be reassuring to conclude that the situation of Negroes in the slums is not dissimiliar to that of past generations of American immigrants who lived in ghettos but were able to leave. Many white Americans have drawn this conclusion and have expressed the belief that Negroes themselves are responsible for their condition and that all that is required to escape is personal effort. But the analogy is misleading and dangerous. Negroes are not recent immigrants to our shores but Americans of long standing. They were oppressed not by
foreign governments but by a system of slavery supported by this government and its people. The legacy of slavery continues in the form of racial segregation (de facto if no longer legal), discrimination and prejudice. Escape from the ghetto for any group is much more difficult in the America of the 1960's than it was one or two generations ago. Society has become more complex, and unskilled employment or small business enterprises no longer are meaningful first steps up the ladder. These factors-the demands of a technological society, and discrimination and prejudice, facilitated by the visibility of the Negroes' skin color-have been translated into barriers far more formidable than those which were faced by the Irish, the Italians, the Poles or the Jews in this country.
The traditional exits from ghetto life have been blocked. Public education long has been viewed as a means to provide the Nation's youth with skills which would enable them to escape poverty and join the mainstream of society. But most Negro youngsters are in overcrowded and inadequate schools which are, as a practical matter, segregated by race and by class, and which are stigmatized by the community. They have little or no contact with more advantaged students and they are outside the informal channels that lead to skilled employment. They frequently are taught by teachers who are less able or experienced and who expect less of them. Contrary to widespread belief, recent Federal efforts to make available more aid to inner-city schools have not appreciably affected the disparity between the resources of these schools and those of other schools within the city and better financed suburban systems.
Many Negro youths, having failed to receive a meaningful educational opportunity, at an early age and without the necessary skills enter a labor market in which racial discrimination is still prevalent. Government efforts to provide training have been small in relationship to the need and frequently have been poorly coordinated or misdirected. Entry of Negroes into the construction trades-one of the few remaining fields of well-paid employment that does not require extensive formal education—still is blocked by union practices of discrimination which have not been eliminated by civil rights laws and governmental action.
A further problem arises from the fact that employment opportunities in private industry are increasingly moving from the inner-city into the suburbs, and beyond. Though jobs in private industry and in public service are growing rapidly in the suburbs, these are often inaccessible to Negroes because of the housing practices of government and the housing industry. Despite its declared goal of providing a