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Black Lives Have, Do and Will Matter to the Future of America

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/File

Yes, black lives matter. They have mattered, do matter, and most certainly will matter to the future of America. In fact, they matter too much to relegate millions of our black citizens to dependence on dehumanizing
government entitlements in the name of righting past wrongs. Demanding reparations and special programs keeps them waiting for politicians to deliver on promises that are unlikely to come. Even worse, the premise that they can't succeed without such help is demeaning and keeps them from the hard work and drive needed to earn their own American Dream.

Booker T. Washington knew the political power that comes with selling victimhood: "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."

Bob Woodson, a veteran of the 60's Civil Rights Movement, advisor to President Reagan and President Bush, and founder of the Woodson Center, voices the same concern today: "You have a right to an education, but you
have a responsibility to study. If we are not saying that with every right there is a personal responsibility to respond, we are crippling them. Nothing is worse than telling a group of people that their destiny is determined by what white people do."

Victim thinking will never be the answer. The American Dream, no matter what their race or religion, has inspired millions of citizens and immigrants who have believed in and claimed their right to life, liberty and "the pursuit"
of happiness. They believed. They worked hard, and they found a way to succeed.  

In spite of the demands of Black Lives Matter and their seeming lack of patriotism, some polls indicate that as little as 7 percent of black Americans share their view. Of course, slavery is a blemish on our American history,
but most Americans are proud of our progress in making Martin Luther King's vision a reality--"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." There are many black Americans ready to stand as testimony to what can be achieved in America.

Larry Elder, conservative talk show host, author, and new candidate for governor of California, doesn't shy away from our past: "Yes, slavery is America's horror and shame. But slavery, unfortunately, appears throughout the whole of human history. Europeans enslaved Europeans. Asians enslaved Asians. Those we refer to as Native Americans enslaved other Native Americans. Black Africans enslaved other black Africans. Slave traders brought more African slaves to the Middle East and to South America than to Colonial America. Yet this country fought a civil war that resulted in the eradication of slavery. No other nation can say that."

Condoleezza Rice didn't let any racism or "white privilege" stop her: "It was my mother and father, who, despite the fact that I was growing up in Jim Crow Alabama, always had me convinced that I could be President of the
United States. They always taught me to just look past the obstacles. Either blast through them, or assume they're not in your way.... Growing up where I did in Alabama probably gave me a healthier respect for how far we've come. I don't carry anger about that period of time. I think it made me, and people like me, stronger. I  just refuse not to be optimistic. You only have one life. And if you spend your entire life seeing obstacles and seeing clouds and assuming everybody's out to get you, then I think you're just likely to waste your life, and I'm just not going to do that."


Ruth Edmonds, an Ohio congressional candidate, is running to help end the hateful rhetoric around race. Honoring the wisdom of her grandmother, she asserted, "Caucasians are not villains, and they are not oppressors. Brown-skinned people are not victims, and we are not oppressed. I'm from the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland, raised by my grandmother who only had a fourth-grade education. And yet she taught me the principles and values and ethics of hard work and perseverance and faith in God and taking advantage of opportunities when they come and not allowing barriers to be excuses."

We should keep working to give every American an equal chance at the starting line, but that in no way should guaranteed their outcome at the finish line. No matter what color wrapping one comes in, to exempt any group
or race form having to win their own race is not a blessing but a curse.

America has its first black president elected twice, black Supreme Court justices, amazing professional athletes and entertainers, successful entrepreneurs and authors. There is no shortage of inspiring stories to tell and models to learn from.

But in America, there are no guarantees. People of all races succeed and fail. Resilience and persistence matter. It's not how many times you fail, but how quickly you get back up to keep trying. To label any failure as the result of white privilege or racism leaves minorities powerless, dependent on the Democrat Party's debilitating promises for new and better entitlements. The depression of our age is learned helplessness-"nothing I can do will make any difference in what happens to me...I am a victim!" Black lives matter too much to leave victimhood as the only road to the future.

Terry Paulson is a PhD psychologist, author, and professional speaker on Earned Optimism, Making Change Work, Claiming Your American Dream, and Becoming a Conservative Values Voter. Contact him to speak before your group at


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