Share this article

print logo

Rod Watson

Rod Watson has been a weekly columnist for The Buffalo News since 1992, writing most often about socioeconomic and political issues affecting minorities and/or the poor, as well as about local government. In addition, as urban affairs editor, Watson oversees coverage of the city school system, transportation and politics.


What about blacks who use the N-word, one caller inquired. Don't they realize the ammunition they're giving white racists when they do that, a dismayed teacher lamented.The comments followed a recent column about whites who had publicly hurled the hateful epithet at everyone from a black state official to a whole town of white teens accused of acting too much like blacks -…

As the Clinton administration searches for money to keep a promise to "end welfare as we know it," the dilemma, in a nutshell, is this: The administration is thinking too small.The answer to this financial puzzle is not less welfare reform, but more.The solution is not to phase in added services or work requirements on the poor more slowly. Rather, it is to expand the gove…

Imagine a fatal epidemic in which politicians trip over each other taking credit for legislation to hire more coroners and build more cemeteries.In the lull between Senate euphoria over spending $23 billion on an historic effort to lock people up and attempts next month to finalize that measure with House counterparts, that nagging analogy keeps coming to mind.So does th…

While November is usually associated with Thanksgiving or the demise of JFK, this year it might be remembered as something else: the month the N-word went public.The slur usually aimed at blacks only behind closed doors has had a coming-out party of sorts. It's become the epithet of choice for those in search of the ultimate put-down, handy for use everywhere from the cl…

Unfortunately, most of the analysis and finger-pointing has been aimed at the individuals starring in Ed Rollins' nasty little version of Let's Make a Deal.There's the slick but blabby political operative who may have finally outslicked himself.There's the wounded but earnest governor-elect, bravely clapping hands in a black church and looking none too pleased to be there…

"Beware liberals bearing gifts."If a new study is on the mark, that might well be the warning to blacks in Buffalo and elsewhere ready to cheer those politicians put in office Tuesday by coalitions led by white liberal voters.The "Race and American Politics Project" is eye-opening in large measure because it documents how close many white liberals are to conservatives when…

So what happens now? What happens in the next racially-charged trial when the jury recedes behind closed doors to render justice, apply the law, or some combination of those sometimes-divergent ideals?That's the question that remains in light of the contrasting reactions of many blacks and whites to the verdicts against Reginald Denny's videotaped assailants.The case won'…

Anyone not preoccupied watching former communists fight for free markets overseas might have caught the dispatches from a U.S. labor conference the other day.If they did, they might ponder the question that unrepentant utopians ponder every time increasing joblessness is juxtaposed against increasing overtime: Why are those who have jobs working so long while those who do…

Everything starts in the home . . .We have to re-instill the spiritual element . . .The family is the first educator . . .The litany might sound like applause lines from a Pat Buchanan speech on what's wrong with the inner city and why government can't help and shouldn't bother trying. But it's not.It actually represents the feelings of many inner city African-Americans ab…

Rationing. It's the scare word dredged up by obstructionists in the health-care debate.But the fact is that we ration almost everything -- according to ability to pay.Most of the time, it affects only those amenities around the edges of life -- a fancy car rather than a basic model, a cloth coat versus a mink.But sometimes it becomes much more fundamental. Witness the new …

What sounds like an oxymoron having little to do with education has some students and parents in Pennsylvania so upset they've -- what else? -- gone to court.But despite the cries of persecution, the notion of "required volunteerism" is neither as contradictory nor as superfluous to the real function of schools as it sounds.The brouhaha is really all about what society e…

The embrace given Louis Farrakhan at the Congressional Black Caucus annual meeting last week comes with a huge question mark: What impact will it have on the caucus' ability to get support for its agenda to help blacks?After all, it was just a month earlier that the Nation of Islam leader with the provocative tongue was shut out of the 30th anniversary March on Washingto…

OHIO'S ANTIOCH COLLEGE is definitely on the right track with its new policy requiring women on dates to give explicit verbal consent every step of the way.Who can argue against the notion that what's needed is up-to-the-minute, step-by-step authorizations, from the time Cupid first reaches for an arrow until the time the heavens erupt and violins play?The policy from the t…

Suppose, instead of giving the German tourist killed last week a packet of safety information, Florida officials had instead given him a handgun and a temporary permit?Or suppose the British tourist killed there Tuesday, or Michael Jordan's father, had been carrying one when either of them pulled off the road at a rest stop -- and had been awake when their killers approa…

Remember the broad-based energy tax. Remember mohair (and honey). Remember timber. Having that good a memory should protect from the hazards of getting overly excited about the so-called "Reinventing Government" report released the other day.The death of a comprehensive energy tax, the continuing life of outdated subsidies for goat and bee farmers, and the rush to compr…