Literally I am here at my computer, but figuratively I’m on all fours, head throbbing and stomach churning. I am a black man, angry and confused by things I’ve seen, and I don’t know whether to fight, quit or vomit. Consider: I’ve seen a black football coach fired at Notre Dame despite a winning record, a reputation for fair play, and one of the highest graduation rates in the country. Yet, while football nerds contend the guy’s not a great coach, I’m saying look at the big picture. His firing reduces the number of black major college football coaches to two. I’ve seen Kweisi Mfume, a man of vision, passion and remarkable decency, resign as head of the NAACP. Yet, I saw him rendered toothless during this year’s campaign when President Bush refused to address the NAACP; saying in essence, "Not only don’t we need you, but by ignoring you we’re telling our conservative base that things like affirmative action are back on the table." I’ve seen the national media fail to ask tough questions about reports of voter intimidation and fraud in largely black voting districts, much like they failed to ask tough questions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Yet, I’ve seen little outrage in black communities, particularly those in Ohio and Florida, where the fraud was reported to have happened. I’ve seen black talk-show host Tavis Smiley resign from NPR, saying NPR has failed to reach out to minority audiences, as it had promised. Yet, I know full-well that even in a perfect world an evening talk show on public radio is probably not the best vehicle to attract young black kids. And I’m not even going to get into the Indiana Pacers’ black all-star Ron Artest, who pummeled a white fan because he "disrespected" him by throwing a beer on him during an ugly melee. This, mind you, is the same Artest who so respects his opponents that he commits career-threatening fouls with the game no longer in doubt, so respects his teammates that he asks for time off with pay because he’s tired from promoting his rap CD, and so respects the game that during the above melee – which he started – he laid down on the scorer’s table and feigned indifference. And finally, I’ve seen Robert Sachs honored last week by NAMIC NY for years of passionate advocacy, only to have a handful of CEOs show up. Yet the pragmatist in me understands what they must have thought: Here’s a lame duck being honored by an organization my colleagues and I are just as likely to bury as support. Why should I show up? I’ll tell you why. Should affirmative action, WICT and NAMIC go away – and who knows, maybe they should – then they have to be replaced by something. And that something is buried deep within you. It’s called respect. It’s called acknowledging the dignity of all men, regardless of gender or color. Want to fix the world? You can’t. You can’t even fix the industry. The only thing you can fix is you. Want a guideline for how to run your company? Heck, don’t ask what Jesus would do. The guy’s been hi-jacked by people who think same sex marriage is immoral, but it’s OK to send poor children to bed hungry. Instead, ask what your grandmother would do. Symonds says ask what someone who survived World War II and the Depression would do; someone who has learned first-hand the only way to get through hard times is to join arms and work together. Curtis Symonds can be reached at curtissymonds@yahoo.com.

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