As everyone in the world including pristine African tribes is well aware, Barack Obama is our first black President and the most powerful black man in all of history.
No doubt there are KKK knuckle-draggers who are unhappy with this; but by and large, Mr. Obama ran his campaign in a surprisingly non-racial way. Though, being a Democrat, he couldn't help but cross paths with race-baiters like Jesse Jackson, he himself admirably avoided playing the race card to any great extent. Candidate Obama promised to be president of all Americans; and racially speaking anyway, so far he gives every evidence of keeping that promise, not doubt disappointing the usual agitators for slavery reparations and similar nonsense.
There is, however, one area in which this is a shame. It's desperately dangerous and unhealthy for a national president to be visibly biased in favor of his own ethnic group, as any number of African civil wars amply illustrate. In the area of immigration policy, however, America would be far better off if Obama took action to help out his struggling brothers in the 'hood.
In the amnesty debate of two summers ago, the American people made their feelings known about illegal immigrants: they don't like them and want them gone. Unfortunately, our political elites and national opinion leaders unanimously despise this view, and made it clear that anyone who felt that the Entire World shouldn't be welcomed to our shores with open arms was a Neanderthal racist. Despite the opposition of more than 80% of voters, the amnesty bill came within a hair's breadth of becoming law.
In the course of the rather vitriolic debate, it seems to have become conventional wisdom that opposition to illegal immigration mostly comes from conservative whites. No doubt most of the visible opposition was, indeed, from whites, if for no other reason than there still are more whites in America than anything else.
However, except at the very bottom, whites are not the Americans most harmed by the tsunami of illegals.
It's true that many middle-class Americans of all shades have seen their jobs go to foreigners. That's mostly because the jobs left for foreign climes, not because an immigrant came here to take it.
Certain middle-class fields, particularly the tech industry, have seen an influx of foreigners to American offices; but these almost invariably come here perfectly legally on H1-B or other visas. You might argue about the wisdom and debate the appropriate number of visas to be granted, but you cannot fault these folks for following the letter of the laws we place before them and taking advantage of the opportunities therein.
Unlike the Indians and other Asian immigrants who compete for middle-class jobs, illegal immigrants predominantly occupy the bottommost tier of manual labor. Without education, skills, or a command of the English language, they will do pretty much anything for next to nothing.
This has displaced a very few white Americans, and not permanently. For example, a job at McDonald's was once a rite of passage for practically all American teenagers of every demographic save for the very richest. Years ago, McD's claimed to have employed over two-thirds of all living American citizens at one time or another.
Nowadays, the white teenagers are gone, replaced by older immigrants who work more reliably and at less cost than their younger and somewhat more frivolous predecessors. The loss of fry-flipping jobs might be a lost opportunity for today's teens to build character, but it's hard to see how their long-term economic well-being is damaged. The same is true for lawn care, child care, and all the other income categories that have seen American teens replaced by immigrant adults.
There is, however, one class of people for whom the lowest jobs are not a temporary and easily-bypassed waypoint on the highway to bigger and better things, but an essential first rung on the ladder up. For our lowest, least educated, least blessed citizens, a job doing manual or unskilled labor is not the way to earn pin money - it's the only job they are qualified for, it's the only way to learn necessary work discipline, and the only way to prove their reliability and diligence so they can get a better job.
As we are reminded every day by the left, our underclass is disproportionately black, so whatever hurts our underclass has a disparate impact on blacks.
For a hundred years after the end of slavery, all the jobs which are now done by illegal Mexicans were the meal ticket for American blacks. Janitors, housemaids, farm workers, groundskeeping, light maintenance - millions of blacks filled these positions all over the country. They weren't great jobs, and they didn't pay well, but they were jobs - and in many cases led to better things later.
Even today, it's perfectly possible to raise yourself up into the middle class from a bottom-tier job. A diligent McDonald's fry-flipper will, after a few years, most likely be offered a manager's role, and then McDonald's Corporation has teams of people looking for promising managers to attend Hamburger University.
Politics being what it is, McD's has a Chief Diversity Officer, a formal Diversity Plan, and special career development seminars for all the usual minorities. Far from keeping the black man down, McDonald's would like nothing better than to give an experienced black restaurant manager a large loan to purchase his very own McDonald's franchise.
A well-run McD's can earn up to a million dollars a year, and it's not uncommon for one owner to own several. Thanks to McDonald's, the door to the middle class is wide open for the diligent but ill-educated person who's willing to work hard, particularly a member of a minority group.
The same is true of manual and construction laborers. How many people have started out as an unskilled laborer, become independent contractors, then hired others and found themselves at the helm of a construction firm after some years? Independent small businessmen in the construction and maintenance fields are at the heart of the American middle class, no matter what their hue.
There is one problem - you have to get in the door in order to advance at all. Thanks to untrammeled immigration, black Americans face swarms of competitors who are willing to work for less than a living wage, and often less than the legal minimum.
Even an employer who would rather hire native-born Americans is legally prohibited from doing so; thanks to our politically correct government, it's against the law to discriminate based on national origin when hiring.
Nothing against people from other countries of course, but wouldn't it seem reasonable for Americans to have the first opportunity to fill American jobs in America? Or at least for employers to be permitted to prefer to hire Americans should they wish to? What's wrong with that sort of "Buy American" policy?
It's perfectly understandable why businesses like immigration, both legal and illegal: the more people competing for jobs, the less money they can be paid. What's harder to understand is why Democrats, who claim to want to help our poor and underprivileged, insist on policies which make it far harder for our poor and underprivileged to better themselves.
By way of contrast, consider the one major American employer which is legally permitted to discriminate against non-citizens: the military. The military can under certain circumstances accept legal immigrants, but never illegals; and only U.S. citizens can become officers.
What do we see? A vast number of successful, disciplined, well-educated black men using the military to raise themselves, in many cases to stratospheric heights, Gen. Colin Powell being merely the most famous. How is this a bad thing?
Isn't this advancement of black people something we should replicate elsewhere? Wouldn't we all be better off if black Americans had more opportunities for advancement than just the military?
For many years, America has suffered under the pernicious policies of affirmative action, in which minorities are promoted to positions that a white of equal qualifications would not receive. This has dreadful effects on their self-esteem, as even Michelle Obama's college thesis demonstrates.
Far from raising the recipients up, affirmative action often keeps them down - as the LA Times reported, accepting underqualified minorities into elite law schools they weren't academically ready for may simply lead them to drop out, whereas in a lower-tier school they may well have gone on to graduation and a decent career.
Conservatives are so often accused of racism that the accusation has lost all meaning, but in economics, the exact opposite is the truth. True conservatives want each American to have the opportunity to advance themselves, regardless of their color. Thanks to liberalism and open-borders, though, disadvantaged Americans have a far harder time grasping the first rung on the ladder of gainful employment.
It's a sad fact that black Americans are disproportionately harmed by this government failure - so much so, that we can't help but wonder if it's intentional. Do liberals want to hold people down so they'll have to depend on government generosity to survive? Isn't establishing policies that directly and disproportionately harm black people the very definition of racism, at least according to the left?
Barack Obama has a magnificent opportunity to do his race a special favor - and in so doing, to benefit all American citizens.
Enforce the labor laws. Deport the illegal immigrants. Accept only immigrants who have skills or talents that contribute to the growth of our economy, and bar those who bring nothing more than their muscles.
Then, we will all see what Booker T. Washington knew a hundred years ago, and demonstrated time after time at his Tuskeegee Institute: given the opportunity, the uneducated black man is the equal of anyone else, perfectly well able to lift himself up by his own efforts.
Isn't that what the American dream is all about? Or would our leaders rather keep black people down and dependent?