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Stop playing the race card

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For instance, although there's no doubt that there are some racist cab drivers, the primary reason black folks consistently find it hard to hail a cab in New York – and we do – isn't bigoted cabbies: it's that many cabbies use race as a proxy for a dangerous ghetto neighborhood.

That's unfortunate, but it's not exactly racism: Even some civil rights advocates leave their cars in midtown when going north of 120th street for fear of parking in a rough neighborhood. The real injustice here is that so many blacks have to live in neighborhoods that reasonable and decent people are afraid to enter.

Or consider the role of race and racism in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Was the problem that President Bush doesn't care about black people, as the rapper Kanye West said?

In fact, there's no evidence that Mr. Bush is a bigot. The better explanation for post-Katrina racial inequity is that residential segregation and poverty left blacks in New Orleans in the low-lying areas worst hit by the flooding and without the resources to leave town in time. Add to that the widespread neglect of national infrastructure and you have all of the makings of the post-Katrina nightmare. To insist that the president is a racist distracts attention from these real and correctable problems.

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