“Daddy played piano, that he’s playing still. Momma can’t forget him, don’t suppose I will. God wants no excuses, I have only one. You had your daddy’s hands. Forgive me, you are your Daddy’s son.” Audra McDonald, Your Daddy’s Son, from Ragtime The Musical
Karen Weise wrote in “The Man Who Took On Merrill” (Bloomberg Businessweek-December 2nd) that:
In 1974 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Merrill, then the biggest brokerage, over race and sex discrimination. The firm, which admitted no fault, settled and entered a consent decree promising to increase the hiring of Black [my capital] brokers from a little more than 1 percent of the workforce to 6.5 percent. Merrill still hadn’t met this goal when the pact expired in 1995.
This piece highlights two things which are nearly impossible to quibble with. One, that Black presence on Wall Street is volatile and has not moved much in forty years. Second, even Black faces in high places is moot in certain calculations, situations, and expectations. Before becoming Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was chairperson of the EEOC from 1982 until 1998. Former chairman & chief executive officer Stanley O’Neal led Merrill Lynch from 2003 to 2007, yet the suit to cover 1,400 brokers from 2001 through 2013 was expected to be approved today.
Which begs the question after so much disappointment why would Black people expect better from one of their own? Is it fair to hold those in position accountable for the masses? Is the letdown that much heavier when it is one in which you had faith in or supported?
I personally learned this lesson the hard way when it was suggested upon Thomas’ confirmation hearing “just give him a chance…he is Black!” The impact of that wishfully thinking continues to reverberates throughout Black communities nationwide. Who knows how much money these sisters and brothers at Merrill would have made if given an equal opportunity.
Perhaps instead of discussing discriminatory actions we’d be discussing the year end results of the largest Black owned and operated brokerage house in the world. Maybe big time Black success would have prevented the firm from having to merge with Bank of America.
That’s one of the problems with racism…what could have been.
How do you measure that?
“Signed…An Educated Brother!”