Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lip Service for Affirmative Action

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lip Service for Affirmative Action

Article excerpt

It is tragic how most initiatives regarding affirmative action are ignored. It seems that only those initiatives forged by an elite few are acted upon. As long as we ignore grass-roots efforts to address our problems, we will primarily be subjecting ourselves to idle rhetoric.

Last year, Kevin F. Chapman, director of corporate administration for K&S Associate General Contractors of St. Louis, wrote in a Commentary article, "The local industry's movers and shakers could create 20 to 25 . . . (construction career) internships, beginning this summer, with just a few phone calls."

In the year since those remarks were published, I wonder if anyone took the time to make those "few phone calls." I wrote Chapman regarding his comments. His response to my letter was what I expected. Particularly his postscript: "P.S. I've taken the liberty of passing your letter on to Brian Murphy, director of the city's Community Development Agency. I've shared most of my correspondence on this issue with him; his is an opinion I trust and admire, and he is, pre-eminently, well-positioned to have a real impact on this aspect of our industry's future."

What was disturbing about Chapman's reaction was, although he suggested that I "made several new, and very valid points," the dialogue between us essentially ended on that note. His affirmative action was simply to pass my letter on to an acknowledged representative of black people. Perhaps whites feel that they should not infringe on the responsibilities of black leaders. I believed that Chapman sincerely felt he had done something significant by passing the information on to CDA. I am sure he believed someone in CDA would follow up on the matter. I never heard from Brian Murphy or anyone else from CDA.

The first step in establishing any meaningful dialogue is to develop mutual respect between all the parties involved. …

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