Jason Riley: How Liberals Make It Harder For Blacks To Succeed

Claire E. Healey

6/25/2014 6:00:00 PM - Claire E. Healey

Dr. Jason Riley discussed his new book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder For Blacks To Succeed, on Monday at the Heritage Foundation. Riley is an editorial board member of the Wall Street Journal.

In his book, Riley discusses where the Civil Rights Movement has gone wrong. He emphasizes that liberals only encourage blacks to blame their problems on whites and to make themselves out to be victims.

Even after the Civil Rights Movement, black unemployment rates were twice that of whites for the last five decades. In 1966, the poverty rate in America was lower among all groups than it was in 2012.

"The Civil Rights Movement has become an industry that does little more than monetize white guilt," Riley said in his talk. "Liberal solutions to the black problems were just as wrongheaded today as they have ever been."

Riley began his speech with an anecdote about his niece, who once accused him of "talking white" and trying to "sound so smart." Riley used this example to illustrate the fact that black culture often rejects academic success from a very early age, which makes children far less likely to be motivated in school.

"The only thing the government can do is forge equal opportunity," Riley said. "It should not be tinkering with social structure."

He also emphasized that focusing on strengthening black family life is important, citing the statistic that black boys without a father in the home are 68 percent more likely to be incarcerated.

"A black man in the home is much more important than a black man in the White House."

Riley also debunked the minimum wage fallacy. He said that the typical minimum wage earner is not a single mother trying to raise four children; rather, the typical earner is generally a teenager at an after-school job, a housewife making some extra money while her kids are at school, or older citizens keeping busy after retirement.

Riley stressed that blaming racism is a poor excuse for any lack of success among blacks. He compared blacks to Asians, discussing Asians' higher levels of academic achievement throughout the country.

"Blacks must ultimately help themselves," Riley said.