U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado on Friday distanced himself from comments by fellow Democrat and former Gov. Dick Lamm, who said racial minorities use racism and discrimination as pretexts for academic underachievement.
Lamm, whose new book addresses minority achievement, contends that racism and discrimination have been blamed for underperformance among Hispanics and Blacks, while other minorities have treated discrimination as a hurdle rather than a barrier.
In a speech in Vail, Colo., last week, Lamm said in part: “I’m willing to say there is racism and discrimination, but that is not an excuse for minority underachievement. Blacks and Hispanics do half as much work as Asian students, and they get half as much grades. They have to stop telling people they are not succeeding because they are victims.”
Salazar says Lamm has not returned his calls to discuss the remarks.
“I found the comments very unfortunate,” says Salazar. “I think they are divisive, and they don’t create a way for us to unite our country.”
“The comments that former Gov. Lamm has made about African-Americans and Hispanics are part of a legacy of hate and division. My hope is that he reflects on those comments and decides instead he’s going to place his energy into positive things we can do to provide equal opportunity for all people,” Salazar says.
Salazar participated in a summer enrichment program Friday at Colorado Academy. He says most of the dozens of students were Hispanic, and most said they wanted to go to college.
“When you have someone like former Gov. Lamm who has been in his leadership positions making comments about the Hispanic and African-American cultures as being second rate, it flies in the face of the kind of America we ought to be creating,” Salazar says. “The kind of America we ought to be creating is one that celebrates the diversity of our nation and that also celebrates the opportunity we want to create for all people.”
In an e-mailed response, Lamm said groups whose culture and values stress delayed gratification, education, hard work, success and ambition have succeeded in America, regardless of discrimination.
“We must recognize that all the civil rights and affirmative action laws in the world are not going to solve the problem of minority underachievement,” he wrote.
— Associated Press
Reader comments on this story:
There are currently 2 reader comments on this story:
“a level playing field”
It’s funny that he would attack those who have historically been victimized by this country’s failure to do right by those whose ancestors were forcefully brought to this country. He tries to compare apples and oranges when contrasting blacks with other races for the mere fact that those other races came here of their own free will to make a better life. Black people were forced to come here, they enslaved and abused and then had to fight to be treated as human beings, let alone try to get equal access to education and opportunities. Why is it that people look at black folk like they started on a level playing field and just fail to achieve? We started off behind the curve and as a whole have done a pretty darn good job of catching up and achieving against all odds and against small minded people like Dick Lamm – who in his heart of hearts probably doesn’t want to see minorities achieve anyway. Where is his disdain for those in the legislature who try to ensure that “underachievers” remain underachievers by stacking the deck against them – e.g. with bogus laws that underfund programs that would help them? He talks about racism and discrimination like they are passing fads that play no role in how and why things are as they are. As a Black man who busted his behind to get his Electrical Engineering degree and who has friends who have done the same (and then some) I am deeply offended that he would even speak on the matter when he obviously is out of touch. Never has a first name been more fitting.
“Colorado’s haughty political attitude”
The highly critical thoughts of the former Governor of Colorado, only serve as a re-enforcement of Colorado’s haughty political attitude and disposition. The State has always been quite divisive in handling academic initiatives. The Governor’s words will probably be saluted by those who possess the Social Darwinism which found a home in the Reagan Administration and the change of social policy toward African Americans. African Americans who had adopted a position contradictory to the American Dilemma confronting the “American Experiment” referenced by Parisian Historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose unabridged Chapter 18 forms the foundation of America’s addressing the “race issue,” is demonstated by Gov. Lamm. Mr. Lamm manifests his miseducation by first comparing African Americans with other groups, e.g., Hispanics (many of whom enjoy privilege of being “white” as long as they deny their cultural heritage) and Asians (I’m surprised he did not mention Africans). Second, Mr. Lamm’s observations fail to consider the period of time when even critics of Affirmative Action and Civil Rights were benefactors of teachings which involved hard work and high morals – those whom Martin King referred to as a “great people” who were determined to make their mark in a bigoted culture which denied their humanity. Finally, the Governor should be asking, why did Black people – as well as those Hispanics who remained true to who they were – take a turn for the worse by his standards? The Governor cannot help himself, what’s inside always reveals itself – and this demonstrates his need for a real education. If he really wants to help, then he should pose the right questions instead of spouting words of ignorance which academically do not hold water!
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