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LOVEJOY TEEN-AGERS WEREN'T PROTECTING THEIR TURF, THEY WERE HARASSING EASY TARGETS

You won't hear any of the Lovejoy area kids who harassed an interracial couple, or their supporters, say, "I'm Tiger Woods!" In fact, if they could afford the trip to Florida, they would probably take great pleasure in vandalizing Woods' exclusive home, along with all the other mostly black-owned homes on Woods' block, where other prominent people reside. Then they would use the well-worn robotic excuse that they did it because they were concerned about black crime.

In this country, poor and working-class whites from various ethnic groups can still prove to be dangerous to blacks. Generations ago, Irish, Italian, Polish and Jewish immigrants came ashore on Ellis Island and spread out throughout the country.

They were the relatively new white people, the Northern whites who stood apart from their Southern counterparts. These new immigrants weren't thrown out of Europe, they were lured here by the prospect of opportunity already laid out for them by their more established Southern brethren.

It was these Northern whites who claimed to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." "Nobody gave us anything," was another of the lies they frequently told. They made up myths about blacks, a people they knew virtually nothing about, although blacks had been here much longer than they.

Northern whites based their resentment of blacks on the then-existing political and commercial power-structure of Northern blacks, as well as the colorful culture and nightlife they enjoyed. When these whites came into power, instead of lynching blacks, like the Southerners, they slandered them. They said blacks couldn't be trusted; that they were lazy and immoral. Then they set out to make sure these statements had a ring of truth by driving out black politicians, denying businessmen needed resources, buying property in black neighborhoods and refusing to take care of their tenants.

It's the same today in Buffalo. As a youth, when I walked through the Lovejoy area, it wouldn't be unusual for me to hear racial insults screamed from a speeding car. Those kids who harassed the Goodwin family are the very children of those who did the cowardly screaming. Yes, the kids have been listening to their fathers. Only this time, much to their detriment. Imagine young school-age kids making judgments about interracial couples like the Goodwins, who have been married for seven years. That's roughly half the amount of years those young hoodlums have been alive.

What they call "half and half" couples have been around for hundreds of years. Lovejoy is just a slow-moving ant when confronted with the freight-train of race issues and history. Sorry, boys. Either grow up, or pack your bags and go back to Europe. The hypocrisy about that is, in a buyer's market, Lovejoy is not an easy sell, even for prospective white buyers. The Goodwin home on Davey Street has been on the market since June, and stands to be for quite some time. It seems that Lovejoy, Sloan and parts of South Buffalo won't exactly be mistaken for the Garden of Eden, and they're all white.

Though they must shoulder most of the blame, it's not just those boys and their parents who are responsible for those actions. They live in a world where the media feed off negativity, where a white youth in Las Vegas can watch his best friend molest and murder a little black girl and make himself look like an MTV celebrity with smart-aleck sound bites when questioned about his involvement.

They live in a world where talk-radio hosts and hockey players can take cheap shots at blacks. Those Lovejoy boys are growing up in a world where there is more public alarm over black response to racism than there is to actual racism. Hell, who can blame them? They are just cashing in on the times. The message being sent to them is "blacks aren't worth much." Negative statistical reports and lowered property values seem to support this.

The endurance of these kids must be noted, too. Even though they hinted that they had some inkling that what they were doing is wrong, they've decided to trudge on. After all, it's what they've been taught; they have no choice in the matter. Talk about keeping the faith. Not!

The reality is this country wouldn't be worth very much if it weren't for the hundreds of billions of dollars represented by slave labor. That is the secret to all the financial stability this land has historically enjoyed.

Any white who wants to use the black violence that has only been prominent over the last 20 to 30 years as an excuse to hate hard-working blacks should remember one thing. Given Europeans' own violent nature, if African-Americans were never forced to come here, then the good old USA could easily be another Northern Ireland or Bosnia. It is blacks, through slavery, that have made this country stable, and it is black consumerism that keeps it stable. Neatly cut grass, picket fences and all. Enjoy your life, kids.

CHRIS STEVENSON writes for About . . . Time magazine, and contributes to regional and national publications.
For writer guidelines for columns appearing in this space, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Opinion Pages Guidelines, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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