If reverse discrimination in people is going to be made verbotem, what about money? The Chicago Reporter, an excellent newspaper in the field of race relations, has dug out the fact that the federal government is pulling out its Medicare deposits out of minority banks and transferring them to white-owned ones. From a high of $14.7 million Medicare deposits in minority banks under President Nixon in 1973 the figure has shrunk to but $300,000 on deposit now.
The newsletter quotes a board member of the black-owned Seaway National Bank of Chicago, which is losing its deposits as saying, "There are many issues on which Nixon can be criticized, but he went much further on aid to minority business than either President since."
If the Carter administration's record in this regard looks bad compared to Nixon's it isn't much better stacked up against Jerry Ford's. Since the Spirit of Equality flew in here from Plains, Ga., total federal deposits in minority-owned banks, not just Medicare deposits, have dropped $5 million.
Seaway National lost its federal deposits through even-steven, fair bidding.
Seaway national was underbid by another white bank, which has a corporate tie-in with a data processing firm and so can do the work at lower cost.
Perfectly legitimate, but it means that Seaway, a small institution, loses about 40 per cent of its volume of business transactions and will have to let 10 to 20 people go. Naturally they're black and will therefore supply first-rate handwringing fodder when next month's unemployment statistics come out.
"If they want to call it a minority banking program, they should give some weight to the fact that we're a minority financial institution." The Chicago Reporter quotes Seaway Bank president, Richard Pearson. "It's not a special minority program and they have no right to claim credit for placing money with us, when we have to compete against larger, more established white institutions and bid so low that our profit margin on the account sinks down near zero."
Just as the admission of black students to medical school at the expense of keeping white ones out, if the not-so-low bidding black business is chosen over the lowest bidding white business we have reverse money discrimination.
If black individuals or the nation's black businesses are going to get a helping hand, somebody is going to have to pay. It can't be the black people because they don't have anything to pay with; it's got to be the white people, but which white people? That's what we ought to be worrying about instead of reverse discrimination.
If Seaway National Bank is given the business even though it isn't the low bidder, that extra cost to help black business is spread around among millions of people. No one, single white person has to do all the paying. The same thing could happen with medical school. You don't keep the qualified white out to let the black with slightly less shiny qualifications in. You let both in by providing extra room. The white teachers may have to teach a little harder, but that's a far less onerous sacrifice than being kept out of the profession one yearns to join. And it costs the taxpayers a little more to create the extra slots, but the burden is farly shared.
Either we begin to think and act in such terms or Bakke and reverse discrimination may turn some of us into packs of black and white dogs fighting over a small bowl of Alpo while some of the rest of us live the life of Morris the cat.