Star Parker

Louis Farrakhan's "Millions More Movement" explains on its Web site that "It's time for our leadership to stop acting solely on behalf of our churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, and organizations. It is time for us as leaders to come together and begin to think, plan, and act on behalf of the whole of our people."

What it should really say: "When the Republican president's polls get shaky, it's time for the demagogues to come to Washington."

Do poor blacks really need to hear "millions more" excuses why black men can't be faithful to one woman and be responsible for the children they bear? Or why they can't get an education because white people hate us?

Do poor blacks really need another venue for hip-hop multimillionaires to explain, in four-letter epithets, that blacks suffer because George W. Bush doesn't care about them? This while these moguls get richer by the day peddling black booty on BET, inspiring black kids to live the life that guarantees to keep them poor?

Despite Farrakhan's supposed objective to "empower" poor folks, he should understand, as more and more blacks are beginning to understand, that he, and other long-standing traditional black leaders, really promote quite the opposite.

Poor blacks do not need to be "mobilized" to turn even more responsibility for their lives over to others. They need to go to school and take care of their families. The place where this needs to take place is within a couple-mile radius of where they live. It certainly won't take place on the National Mall in Washington.

Blacks mobilized on the Mall in Washington in 1963 because there were legitimate claims then that government was not doing its job to ensure for black citizens the constitutional protections of life, liberty and property.

The Constitution was amended after the Civil War to solve this problem. But, unfortunately, the number of laws a nation needs is directly proportional to the amount of evil present. A hundred years after the addition of the Fourteenth Amendment, ensuring protection and due process for all citizens, blacks were still not getting it.

This reality crystallized the civil-rights movement in the 1960s. The Rev. Martin Luther King defined the problem and the challenge in his unforgettable address on the Mall in 1963.

The result was more legislation, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. These laws went the extra mile to ensure blacks their needed protections.

However, law cannot change the hearts of men. Nor can law ensure that a child will grow up to be a responsible adult. In a free society, government does not, and cannot, act as a parent. Government can't ensure that black kids will become nuclear physicists.

The work that blacks need to do in Washington today is to reduce government interference with black individual lives, families and communities to solve our own problems. We need to increase the freedom we have to choose how to educate our children and to increase the control we have over our income and savings.

When black leaders suggest that we need government to do more than ensure our protection, they sound like the very racists who supposedly cause our problems.

It may be news to Farrakhan, and perhaps to other black leaders, that blacks are unique and individual human beings. It's the racists who look at us otherwise. It does not empower black citizens when they hear from their leaders that they are not unique individuals but racial objects.

Am I suggesting that blacks in America today do not have to contend with the burden of racism? Of course I am not. What I do claim is that the most damaging racism in our community is what it hears from its own leaders. It is the message that black citizens cannot and should not be treated as free and personally responsible individuals.

Black problems today are in individual hearts, minds and homes. This is where they need to be solved. The only reason to go to Washington is to get rid of existing barriers to allowing this to happen.


Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.