sat3 pglogo
Founder & Publisher's Notes
Wong is wrong on Blacks in Houston  city  jobs 
 

by Chido Nwangwu  
Founder & Publisher, USAfrica Media  Networks 

Houston City Councilwoman Martha Wong's double-speak apology, given Wednesday July 1, 1998  over her misleading quota-based and statistically-skewed arguments against Blacks employed in Houston's Health and Human services department, fails woefully to remedy her gross  insensitivity towards promoting  racial  harmony in Houston.   Her damage-control,  illogical, non-apology that  went  thus: "I'm sorry if  my  views  APPEAR  TO  YOU to  be insensitive", in my  view, compounds her demeaning  views  about  Blacks. 

For  those  who missed the original Houston Chronicle report,  the 59-year old proto-conservative and second-generation Chinese-American, wrote an ill-advised letter to Houston Mayor Lee Brown protesting that too  many African-Americans were employed in the  agency to the disadvantage of Asians and  Hispanics. 

Six  major issues  need to  be addressed on  Wong's  crass  distortion of employment opportunities  and access  in this city. 

First,  her  letter  reveals  a hypocrisy  and inconsistency on the principle of  employing  people based  on qualifications. In a  shameless twist,  Wong,  who was busy last November fighting  the determination of  Houstonians  to  have  an affirmative and  fair  access and  representation for  all,  is now arguing  for  more  ethnic representation for  her  folks. Apparently  the choristers, choirmasters  and supporting cast singing the moonshine song of a "color-blind society" (whatever  that  means), change their discordant tune with  every turn of the page. 

Second, Wong's crass  and  divisive approach of  race-baiting, pitting blacks against  Asians and Hispanics, is intended to sustain her claim that Asians in Houston  lack  employment opportunities and  leverage.  However, her letter to the mayor  failed  to cite any qualified Asian who was denied employment  at  the city's  health department. 

Third, Ms. Wong cannot  have it  both  ways.  Her claims of  denial of access by this city against Asian-Americans is ridiculous and contradicts what  she said   in the international AsianWeek  magazine of  November 13 - 19, 1997. My  records show her  as  stating  " Now we have Asians serving on major boards now--the metro board, the University of Houston board of regents, the sports authority. So we're now in what I'd call major decision-making positions. We're at the table, and that's what it's all about."  Great;  so  what's her fuss and tiff about Black employment  in a city  agency amounting to  a loss for Asian-Americans? Or is Wong's partisan and  obviously  petty agenda  enough justification for her  to commence another open season on Blacks and the  employment  issue? 

Fourth, Wong  is  the  least qualified  person to  raise  a  grouse about Blacks employed  in government. She does  not  even  practice  what she  is challenging this  city to  do  better. Wong will not tell us how  many Africans, African-Americans and Caribbeans  are on  her  staff. 

Fifth, whenever  she  wakes  up to  to  appreciate the  fairness of Houstonians  to  Asians  here, she  will truly  be embarrassed for diminishing  the  relatively excellent work  Houstonians  have done  to work  multi-ethnic  coalitions. If she had done her bean-counting accurately she  and her patrons such as  University  of Houston's Prof. Chen, another confused Asian-American foe of affirmative action,  could have concluded that Asians in Houston are enjoying a disproportionate "share" of  this city's professional  contracts.  Why? Asians constitute less than 4%  of  the population of  this city while African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans and continental Africans (collectively referred to as Blacks) in Houston are close to 35%.  Interestingly, Blacks  in  Houston have never raised the issue of Asian-Americans  getting over  17% of  the professional contracts  to  only  19.5% for the  entire Black communities. 

Sixth, Wong's anti-Black  and  divisive distortions  are  rooted in a foolish and  wrong assumption  that African-Americans' gains equal  Asian-Americans'  loss. It  is  not and need  not  be so! Hence, Ms. Wong's political  arithmetic of divisive powerplay against Blacks  dramatizes  her failure  to understand  that although  all politics is local, it is,  at  its  core, ennobled and empowered through addition rather than subtraction. One day, soon, she  will  need  Black  support.  It should benefit  her  to emulate key Asian-Americans  in our  city  such  as  MetroBank chairman Don Wang and Lutfi Hassan (both  of  whom I had  the  privilege  of  serving  with on Mayor  Lee  Brown's  Transition team). Both  men have a  record of 10 years of  consistently  promoting  shared  economic  opportunities and coalitions with Blacks, and others. 

With  her distorted and slanted perception of  the history of  the painful quest of African-Americans to  be even considered for  any  form  of  employment in many  parts of  the U.S., Wong may  not be  positively disposed  to  create  a  fair-minded  atmosphere  and legislations affecting  "people  like me" here. Therefore, while she fails in her  civic  obligation to foster understanding and  to encourage less privileged  persons  to  join in  gainful  employment  rather  than  become economic outcasts in their  own  country, her  attitude  will  drive  away some  businesses. 

Finally, it  is  important Houston Mayor Lee  Brown, an African-American, and its  council send a  clear message, as it  did  against  Lenoria  Walker,  by denouncing Wong's earlier statement and latest  non-apology.  Howard  Jefferson, NAACP president (Houston chapter) rightfully  led  the  way  by  denouncing as "reprehensible  and insensitive" Wong's comments despite  the  idiotic drivel some fellows  are spewing to insult  our  community  leaders. You  wonder  where  is  the  outrage  from the  other  non-Black community and civil  rights leaders on Wong's ill-thought statement. 

I   believe that Ms. Wong  should,  instead  of  creating division and rancor, THANK Houstonians for  all the opportunities for economic  and emotional well-being it has  offered her  constituents.  In terms  of heritage  and cultural  roots,  recall that  she  represents  the only ethnic  community in Houston with  street  signs  in their  native language. 

While   pursuing the  goals  of Asian-American empowerment, Ms. Wong  should also protect  and  serve all Houstonians.  Obviously, Ms. Wong  seems  incapable  of  doing  so  at this time. A suggestion to our  dear  councilwoman: if  you cannot serve  all  Houstonians fairly, equally  and without  prejudice, do  not isolate and disparage  professional  men and women of African-American  descent who (among other  people) pay your salary and support your privileges through their taxes  and daily labors. 


Nwangwu, member of  the  board of  the  NAACP, Houston chapter, is founder and publisher of  the first all-business and financial  information newspaper here  in  the  U.S., The Black Business Journal, bbjonline.com and USAfricaonline.com.  He is winner of The HABJ 1997 Journalism Excellence Award  

Back to: 
News Index
or 
USAfrica THE AUTHORITATIVE LINK