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OPINION

JUST PLAIN TALK; Racism and me

Buz Livingston
Walton Sun
Showing my cluelessness, it took me until I was in my late 30s to recognize the casual racism black people endure. I grew up in a racially diverse town, but it was two separate cultures. We had different schools until I entered the 10th grade and didn't socialize much. Bear with me; there is a financial planning angle, too.
Growing up, I fancied myself an athlete; foolishly, I put down the sweetest instrument, the alto sax, to pursue my obsession with football. As mentioned earlier, I was rather clueless. The highpoint of my athletic endeavors was not on the football field, tennis court, golf course or baseball diamond but on the basketball court as an official. I could officiate with a bit of distinction; importantly, I got my last block-charge call right, so I left on a high note. It wasn't like Babe Ruth hitting three home runs in his final game, but I'll take it.
As an adult, I played pickup basketball at our YMCA and became obsessed with the sport. Santa Claus even brought me a leather basketball once; it was on my list. I decided to join the Albany Basketball Officials Association and tagged along with a neighbor/mentor to meetings.
The Albany (All Benny) Association was predominately black, with only a handful of varsity level white officials. We met every other Monday, and one year, it conflicted with Doctor King's holiday. One guy, a bit outspoken, insisted we cancel our meeting, and it went to the association for a vote. During the discussion, I said, in effect, Dr. King would appreciate black and white guys getting together on his birthday to talk about something they enjoyed. The room erupted in laughter. We had our meeting as scheduled.
High school basketball is more serious in Georgia than Florida, ditto officiating. In Georgia, we followed National Federation guidelines for pre-game conferences with only the designated head official speaking to the coaches, scorekeepers, and clock operator. It was then I saw casual racism. Invariably, the staff looked at me, the white guy, while ignoring the black guy, even if he was in charge. It embarrassed me; they were colleagues and my only friend on the court. A light went off inside my head; I got a clue.
The Social Security Act of 1935 excluded agricultural and domestic workers, who were primarily black.
Unlike other exempted professions, these were low-paying jobs, specifically the workers who benefit the most from Social Security. One to two generations of black workers had retirement benefits casually omitted. Social Security's safety net was not available for them, certainly not like it was for many white retirees. Talk about clueless. Many people fail to appreciate how vital guaranteed income, independent of market fluctuations, is during retirement. It's not an opinion, but a mathematical fact. For most Americans, the present value of their Social Security benefit is their most valuable asset.
You can't always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP, can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.