Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton recently lambasted Mexican President Vicente Fox because he said Mexicans were working U.S. jobs that not even blacks would take. President Fox is not the first person to make such an allegation. In fact this has been the position taken by most American presidents since Ronald Reagan to justify the high unemployment rate in the black community and the need for greater immigration from Mexico and other countries.

Black leaders, by not challenging this notion over the past two decades, acquiesced to the rise in immigration and the decline of jobs for blacks and other Americans. Led by the likes of Jessie Jackson, the African-American community has labored under some misguided notion of a “rainbow coalition” that never substantively materialized.

These same leaders have ignored historical fact in their selfish quest for political positioning?”that is, every wave of immigration has always left black Americans at the bottom of the economic heap. The growing American economy should have been a ripe opportunity for black Americans to exploit the various job opportunities. Instead, thanks to Mr. Jackson, et al, African Americans have had to share recent economic opportunities with millions of immigrants who did not participate in the civil rights movement and have not shown a desire to assist in furtherance of this effort.

Specifically, U.S. courts and legislators have broadened legal measures designed to increase black business development and job participation, by including every group under the sun and diluting this benefit to America’s ex-slaves.

Face it, Mr. Jackson, black Americans cannot go to Mexico, Iraq, India or China and have an equal opportunity to participate in the economic mainstream of these countries simply because they are not white. But somehow it is OK for those individuals to come into the United States and even into the Austin community and obtain an economic leg up over African Americans.

Aldermen Mitts, Smith and Carothers see no problem in allowing foreigners to open gas stations and other businesses in Austin. Yet none of Austin’s political leaders could go to Iran, Saudi Arabia, India or Mexico and set up a business. Where is the quid pro quo, aldermen? Blacks should at the least be able to obtain financial assistance from the banks representing these various countries. What about the billions of dollars they invest in the United States? Shouldn’t some of that money flow into the African-American community?

What Mr. Fox and most black Americans need to know is that African Americans have worked harder and longer than any other group of persons in this country. And at every turn, through de facto and de jure discriminatory practices, as well as the use of violence, Americans have repeatedly destroyed the black community’s economic base.

The destruction of Tulsa, Oklahoma, discriminatory practices implemented by labor unions, and black codes are all examples of America’s attempts to destroy the black man in America. But still, African Americans found a way to survive. The group has a long history of doing any job that white Americans would allow them to do and those that no other group wanted.

As summer approaches and thousands of young persons in the Austin community are seeking a job, employers need to know that most African Americans are hard-working and, when given an opportunity, will work. At the same time, young blacks need to understand that America’s fascination with the immigrant is based on a myth. The truth is that black people are the only race that have been able to work and survive under the harshest of conditions just about every place on this earth.