Monday, December 29, 2014

Being Frank about 2015 and the strength of America

Being Frank about 2015 and the strength of America

The new year looks like it will be a good one. Here’s why:
1. The biggest reason is the resilience of Americans. 
Remember Paul Harvey, the news commentator on ABC radio stations?
He pointed out that if Americans have the freedom, we have the drive to get it done. If we don’t know how, we will find out. We can meet challenges. 
2. We will learn to accept racial diversity. 
We are challenged by riots following the shootings of black suspects by white police officers and the death of a black suspect caught in a choke hold in New York City. 
I believe these situations will end in positive ways even though they bring back memories of the race riots in the 60s. 
They will end positively because Americans are much more sophisticated about the media than we were 40 years ago. 
We know the difference between legitimate outrage and the rioting and looting that is done by opportunists. 
Back in the 60s, the popular media reported on riots and other racially motivated crime giving no coverage of the other side -- those blacks and whites who tried to protect their community. When only the “black versus white” stories were told, bitterness was the result. 
In the 1970s, race riots broke out in the southern Illinois city of Cairo. In a matter of a few short years (some told me it was months) a thriving community nestled on the peninsula where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers come together lost 80 percent of its population. It went from 25,000 to 5,000 overnight. 
We moved to Cairo, Illinois, in the late 1970s. Living around the corner from us was a black family. The man and I had the same employer and I suggested we get together for coffee. He could come over to our house. 
Oh, no! That was not going to happen! He was adamant about that. 
I understand there was nothing personal about it, It was a racial thing. 
Bitterness. 
I was told that many of the rioters who came to Cairo were from St. Louis. They were not locals and they destroyed that community. Even though the locals knew the situation, I didn’t hear that reported on the national media back then. 
During recent riots in Missouri, the media pointed out that peaceful blacks stood in the way of black looters, protecting businesses wherever they could. 
When a black man was shot by a white police officer in my home town back in the 60s, it made Walter Cronkite’s CBS news program. The next day, tension was thick in our high school. But there was no rioting, no looting. Our high school had an assembly. The moderator gave black and white students the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings in a peaceful setting. It was well moderated by a school administrator.
The national media didn’t report there was a peaceful aftermath of that shooting, only that “the racial troubles” were no longer in the south. They had spread to a small town in southern Lower Michigan. 
Truth often has a third side. When blacks and whites work together, it’s no longer black vs. white but truth takes on more of a gray shade as  the races work together. That’s what matters. 
The same principle applies to men and women and all minorities who are willing to build rather than tear down.
We have had a two-term black President. The arguments about his presidency are based on performance (and not race.) That is encouraging. 
3. The economy is gaining strength. 
Sally Krawcheck, past CEO of Merrill Lynch, wrote that 2015 will be a good year for business because more millennials are entering the work force and women are becoming more influential in business. 
“Boomers are retiring,” Krawcheck wrote for the web site Linked In. “Stepping into their places are two key groups: millennials and women. The energy around the advancement of these two groups is almost palpable. The millennials are aging into the workforce, an unstoppable force.”
Millennials are generally defined as those born between 1980 and 2000.
“As for women, after years of stalled professional progress, the momentum seems to be in their favor,” Krawcheck wrote. “The national conversation on the benefits of gender diversity – sparked by ‘Lean In’ [by Anne-Marie Slaughter],  by speculation over Hillary Clinton’s presidential run – is powerful.”
She points out that women are more sensitive to risk than men and if more women had been in leadership, the effects of the bank debacle associated with the latest recession might have been lessened. 
Here’s an example of an improving economy - I picked up the latest copy of the Hoosier State Press Association newsletter last week. There were twice the number of openings for reporters and other newspaper people than I have seen in those pages in many years. 
The glut of oil and the dropping gasoline prices means drivers have a lot more money to invest, save and spend and that is going to mean a stronger economy next year. 
So, yes, I am bullish on 2015 and I’m bullish on America!

Frank Phillips is a reporter for The Brazil Times and a freelance writer. He can be contacted at frank.phillips@gmail.com.