During black history month, we rightly celebrate men like black abolitionist Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King, Jr. At pivotal points in America's history, these men took a stand for equal rights for black Americans.
But it's time we honor the achieving black Americans who have taken advantage of those rights, applied their skills, overcome obstacles, and achieved their piece of the American Dream. Though thankful for their freedom and opportunity, many now rail against the culture of victim-hood that sadly contributes to high black unemployment, black-on-black crime, and the explosion of fatherless families in black America.
One such man is renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, Benjamin Carson. While speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Carson thanked his loving mother who, with little more than a third-grade education, wouldn't let him accept failure. She required him to turn off the television, to start reading, and to believe that he could become whatever he wanted to be.
One book he read was Booker T. Washington's Up from Slavery. This great American truth teller vehemently rejected black victim-hood. Washington called on black Americans to claim the challenge of freedom: “Brains, property, and character for the Negro will settle the question of civil rights.... Cast down your bucket where you are…and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life.”
Washington warned even then, “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
Dr. Benjamin Carson, a Horatio Alger Society honoree for rising out of poverty to a life of significance and author of America the Beautiful, did some truth telling of his own, "We've moved from a 'can do' nation to a 'what can you do for me?' nation."
To Dr. Carson, America needs more equal responsibility to go along with equal opportunity: "Everybody has to have skin in the game in order to make this work. We talk about an egalitarian society. Well, if everybody is paying according to their ability, which is what the tithing system was, it's proportional. if you make a gazillion dollars, you pay a lot of taxes. If you make very little, you pay very little taxes. But your skin is in the game."
Dr. Carson is not alone. Thomas Sowell, renowned economist and senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, writes: “One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.”