Can do

Poor blacks can succeed writes Juan Williams, senior NPR correspondent. (If you don’t want to register for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, use this link.)

The story of black Americans is as old as this nation. It is an inspiring struggle for equal rights in the face of slavery, through the Civil War, and then against laws that had the government enforce racial segregation. The prize for this movement for racial justice has always been equal right to compete in schools, in jobs, in the military, at the voting booth and at the swimming pool. The quest has always been about leveling the playing field and giving black people a chance to show their genius.

The civil rights movement “has created the largest, most affluent and politically powerful black population in world history.”

Most black Americans, as they fight to move up economically and put their children in position to succeed, reject any victim mentality. They appreciate that greater opportunities exist for this generation than for any of our predecessors.

Yet there is this hard fact — a persistent 25 percent poverty rate among black people today. Sadly, statistics show it is often identified with the same group of people, the same families, from generation to generation. It is the exact opposite of compassion to lie to people about the source of many of their problems when it is clear that they are often hurting themselves.

Middle-class parents tell their children about the value of education, Williams writes. “They regularly discuss with children family rules, current events and how to negotiate difficult situations and people.”

These are middle-class values that benefit people, black or white.

To encourage the black poor to adopt these values is not evidence of self-hate but offering good news about how people can help themselves and their children to succeed. It is good news to know that if you stay in school and at least graduate from high school, then stay in the job market and don’t have a child until you are in your 20s and married, you have little chance of being poor.

Williams wants black academics to be role models, not excuse makers.

Via Discriminations.

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Comments

  1. Ok. I respect my brother, Juan Williams, and hear his message loud and clear. As a young Black American in her early 40s, I was taught by my parents never to subscribe to a victim mentality. This all being said, some things are better for Black Americans, and some things are not. My Depression-era, Segregation-era father says this all the time. So, while we are striving to not be victims, those of us who have “made it” need to reach down and help those who haven’t. We as Black Americans have forgotten about that part, and this is the part Juan Williams doesn’t speak about. We need to stick together, which was the message that Malcolm X tried to teach Black Americans in his short time on Earth. Too many Blacks today have subscribed to the corrupt message of the larger society, which is every man, woman and child for him/herself. Juan Williams needs to write about this as well when he tells Black Americans not to subscribe to a victim mentality.

  2. Miss Profe-
    I agree with your opinion that the black community needs to stand together… but do not fault Mr. Williams for not including this in his message. He addresses a completely separate point, one where low-income individuals and families handicap themselves by shirking the responsibility for their situation.
    To reiterate, your point is also correct, as it seems too often to me that those taking advantage of low-income blacks are black themselves.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Hockypuck.
    This every man for himself that you see in our society is a far cry from the most compassionate, giving society in the world, one that offers minorities far more from life than the ancestral societies of those minorities ever granted.
    When sticking together becomes push days, gangbangs and halbstark strutting and turf battles, when your sticking together excuses men not marrying the mother of their children, when sticking together means shielding yours from the law even for crimes against you, then the Message of the Reverend Doctor King Jr. has been thoroughly trashed.
    Are we perfect? No, but we are perhaps closer than most.

  4. Mr. Wallis, I am not sure how you got all of that out of my statement, but, OK. However, the point remains that ours is a society with a double-edge. Compassionate, yes; cut-throat and self-serving, yes. And, as a Black American, there is nobody who is more aware of the opportunities that I have in the US. So, while I appreciate your pointing that out to me, I am the least of those who you need to convince of that.

    Perhaps this true, but simple, example may bring the point I was trying to make home: My father and I recently patronized a car wash which employs Black and Latino men, and which is patronized by a large Black clientele. My father, who is very fussy about his car, rewarded the man, who wass Black, with a tip. He was very appreciative, especially given that several previous customers, who happened to be Black and female and drove luxury cars, did not tip him at all. If the man did half the job cleaning their cars as he did cleaning my father’s, then, why did they not tip? My father was really turned off by this, and remarked to the man that “we need to look out for each other (as Black Americans), and reward each other when we do a good job.”

  5. Miss Profe wrote:

    We need to stick together, which was the message that Malcolm X tried to teach Black Americans in his short time on Earth.

    I believe you’re going to be largely disappointed. The time of self-imposed ghettoization pas passed. Sure, you can find it on college campuses in black fraternities and sororities but that’s a throwback to the previous century.

    I’ll predict that on many campuses the black Greeks are in trouble in no small part because of their emphasis on the issue of race. Outside of untypical gasbags such as those that infest blog comment lists, race is just so…..eighties.

    Further, I’ll predict that the black campus organizations will start to evolve away from racial exclusivity in the interests of survival. The value of banding together is dissipating as racial characteristics transition from categorizing to identifying. Once the transition is complete being black and proud will have no more, and no less, meaning then being Italian and proud.

  6. wayne martin says:

    > If the man did half the job cleaning their cars as he did
    > cleaning my father’s, then, why did they not tip? My
    > father was really turned off by this, and remarked to
    > the man that “we need to look out for each other
    > (as Black Americans), and reward each other when
    > we do a good job.”

    And if the young man washing the car had been White or Asian? Would he have deserved, or gotten, a tip in that case?

    Seems to me that the vision of a color-blind world is seriously undermined by this example.

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Miss Profe, I saw the way your father was treated and I was ashamed of that and did my best to change it. I even saved Charlie Rangel’s life at Kunu Ri.
    That is why I am disapointed when the recipients of my effort said that the KKK was right after all, Blacks were significantly different and deserving of different treatment than whites.

  8. Mr. Wallis,

    Who, exactly, are the recipients of your efforts? And what, exactly, makes you disappointed? To say that the KKK was right after all, isn’t that being overly-dramatic? Isn’t that an extreme view? Even in my darkest moment, I would never acquiese to the KKK.

    Mr. Martin,

    As far as a tip, my father is “equal opportunity”. He has withheld tips to folks of color for a lousy car wash job, and has rewarded people who weren’t of color for a job well done. But colorblind – now I thought THAT was a term that had gone the way of the dinosaur.

    Allen – FYI – I don’t subscribe to the Black frat/soror mentality. When I was in college, not even an hour on campus, the president of the BSU came in my face with a flyer requesting my presence at the BSU meeting, I rejected that because I did not choose that particular college for that. And I paid dearly, for the next four years for that descision. If you must know, this suburban girl wasn’t “Black” enough for the Black sororities.LOL! As far as equating being Black with being Italian…well…I still don’t think we’re quite there yet.

    Anyway, Mr. Williams makes some important points in his article, but I do take issue with the wonderful values middle class Black parents impart to their children. That is a generalization. Like White middle class parents, Black middle class parents are a mixed bag.I teach middle and upper middle class Black children, at a very expensive private school, and, I don’t see much evidence of this from a good number of them.

  9. wayne martin says:

    > As far as a tip, my father is “equal opportunity”.

    So what was the point of the example? (“we need to look out for each other (as Black Americans), and reward each other when we do a good job.”) If everyone who does a good job deserves a tip, then where is the “standing together?

    > But colorblind – now I thought THAT was a term that had
    > gone the way of the dinosaur

    To be replaced by what?

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    My efforts were not totally altruistic in opposing racial discrimination, because there was also discrimination against those, like me, who came out of the Dust Bowl. I wanted every one to be evaluated on the basis of accomplishment and talent. When some of those given an opportunity to advance on merit chose instead to wave the bloody flag, I grieve.
    The KKK always claimed to love the Negra, but to know that Negras were not capable of direct competition. Just like Jesse Jackson says. A generation has largely been denied manhood except for push days every day. Sad.

  11. Miss Profe wrote:

    When I was in college, not even an hour on campus, the president of the BSU came in my face with a flyer requesting my presence at the BSU meeting, I rejected that because I did not choose that particular college for that.

    Welcome to the less explored but no less wonderful world of identity politics where membership is too important to be left up to unreliable individuals. If you display the prized characteristic then you can’t be allowed to run around loose. You have to harnessed to the needs and demands of the identity group.

    And I paid dearly, for the next four years for that decision.

    Well sure. If your unreasonably adamant about making your own decisions you can at least serve as an example to others who might be tempted to, uh, get uppity.

    As far as equating being Black with being Italian…well…I still don’t think we’re quite there yet.

    You are correct but that’s the direction things are heading.

    Racial politics and considerations are rapidly becoming the exclusive province of race hustlers, pundits and blog habitués and garner eye-rolling when broached to those of a certain age.