Walter E. Williams

If you listened to the rhetoric of black politicians and civil rights leaders, dating back to the Reagan years, you would have been convinced that surely by now black Americans would be back on the plantation. According to them, President Reagan, and later Presidents Bush I and II, would turn back the clock on civil rights. They'd appoint "new racists" dressed in three-piece suits to act through the courts and administrative agencies to reverse black civil rights and economic gains. We can now recognize this rhetoric as the political equivalent of the "rope-a-dope."
 
As my colleague Tom Sowell pointed out in a recent column, "Liberals, Race and History," if the Democratic party's share of the black vote ever fell to even 70 percent, it's not likely that the Democrats would ever win the White House or Congress again. The strategy liberal Democrats have chosen, to prevent loss of the black vote, is to keep blacks paranoid and in a constant state of fear. But is it fear of racists, or being driven back to the plantation, that should be a top priority for blacks? Let's look at it.

 Only 30 to 40 percent of black males graduate from high school. Many of those who do graduate emerge with reading and math skills of a white seventh- or eighth-grader. This is true in cities where a black is mayor, a black is superintendent of schools and the majority of principals and teachers are black. It's also true in cities where the per pupil education expenditures are among the highest in the nation.

 Across the U.S., black males represent up to 70 percent of prison populations. Are they in prison for crimes against whites? To the contrary, their victims are primarily other blacks. Department of Justice statistics for 2001 show that in nearly 80 percent of violent crimes against blacks, both the victim and the perpetrator were the same race. In other words, it's not Reaganites, Bush supporters, right-wing ideologues or the Klan causing blacks to live in fear of their lives and property and making their neighborhoods economic wastelands.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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