*Last year, a black man accused of a series of misdemeanors reached out to me for legal advice. I know him well. But I declined to give him the advice and instead gave him the number of a lawyer friend of mine. The accused man said he was certain he would be convicted adding, “Even today, a black man cannot get justice.” A few months later, he was convicted. There was no jury trial and the judge was black. But, in the aftermath, he continued to assert that he was mistreated by “the system.” He kept saying “But there was no evidence” over and over again. At no point did he say “But I was innocent.” In other words, this black man was convicted because he was simply guilty. But he could not let go of the racial crutch upon which he was leaning.
Among the themes running through all of these real-world accounts is a considerable lack of maturity and leadership on behalf of the black men decrying racism. Whatever the effects on their own behavior, the effects upon others are decidedly negative. When a black man declares he would never live in the Deep South, he forecloses on legitimate opportunities that may be awaiting him there. Worse, he encourages younger black men to similarly limit their opportunities.
When a black man declares he has no place in the GOP, he renders himself a slave to the policies of a party no longer concerned with courting his vote. Worse, he erects psychological barriers in the minds of younger black men who might bring reform to parties perceived to be unresponsive to their community’s needs.
When a black man convinces himself that the issue of his innocence is irrelevant, he kills any chance for repentance and personal rehabilitation. Worse, he convinces younger black men that they need not conform to the rules of society. Whether criminal or not, the system will eventually get them.
The good news here in the 21st Century is that there are far fewer true racists than there were in the 20th Century. The bad news is that today’s black male is doing the work of yesterday’s racist. By keeping alive the myth of persistent white racism, he creates a culture of helplessness among other black males. In the meantime, black females are achieving far more than black males - thus putting the lie to the assertion that race, not culture, is at the heart of the problem of black male underachievement.
Liberals are wrong to assert that black male progress would necessarily follow on the heels of a decline in racial discrimination. Conservatives are wrong to assert that black male progress would necessarily follow on the heels of a decline in government intervention. Nothing will ever change until the purveyors of perpetual victimhood stop waving a banner that reads “A Black Man Can’t.”
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