“I see black people!”
There’s a line in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet which reads, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” I confess that’s my reaction to the obsession of liberal elites with the topic of racism, which seems to take up an inordinate amount of their time and attention. I don’t honestly know if rank-and-file liberals share this obsession, although many of them parrot their claims. It seems, however, that the ones who have race on their minds the most are the ones who are always talking about it.
So when I read about the recent AP survey which suggests that a slight majority of whites in America have “anti-black” feelings, I rolled my eyes. The timing of this survey’s release is particularly interesting to me, given the tense and fractured state of our nation and the election a week away. It appears that a narrative is being constructed to explain a possible election loss by President Obama, and the article’s specific references to the potential impact of the attitudes addressed in the survey on his reelection chances doesn’t dissuade me from that thought.
Perhaps I’m dismissive of the study because there are a lot of memes that will be constructed around it that are ultimately destructive to our cohesion and harmony as a nation, but advantageous to certain agendas which depend on grievance and discontentment to survive. Nearly four years after thinking a new day in race relations had dawned with the election of a black man to the presidency, we are worse off than we were even before that time, and this ill-timed study is simply pouring gasoline on the fire.
I also don’t like polls where they ask peripheral questions or conduct some indirect test and, based on your responses, conclude that you’re prejudiced. That is, in my opinion, highly presumptuous where the private thoughts and intentions of another human being are concerned.
Essentially, they’re saying, “We’re going to ask you if you’re prejudiced, and we expect you’ll say no, because no one thinks they are, but then we’re going to ask other questions and flash pictures in front of you and, based on how you react to our mind games, we’ll tell you whether or not you’re prejudiced.” Mind reading is essentially the crux of their “scientific” methodology. Unless they were somehow granted the powers of a deity and can see into the minds and hearts of men, I’m disinclined to accept any findings not based on a direct answer to a direct question regarding the topic of race.
Let me be frank. There is racism in the hearts of men, and there will be until the end of time when Christ returns, because we are inherently sinful beings. No laws will ever eradicate racism, but – note this – the laws would not have changed to protect the legal rights of black Americans if the culture, and the hearts of the people, hadn’t changed.
Barack Obama would not be president of the United States if he hadn’t received more white votes than any other Democrat since Lyndon Johnson. Even if I buy the notion that many whites voted for him out of guilt for America’s racist past, doesn’t that mean they at least acknowledge that racism is a bad thing? I think most Americans agree with that sentiment, which is why they react vociferously to accusations of racism.
Racism has become socially unacceptable, as it were, and those who openly espouse racist views are ostracized and held in abeyance on the fringes of American culture. So why do some insist on keeping the specter of racism alive?
The answer is power, pure and simple.
The liberal elites who comprise the leadership of the Democratic Party are smart people, and they can do math with the best of them. When 13% of the American population consistently gives you 88% or more of their vote, you have a firm foundation on which to build a national electoral base. Given that, it would behoove them not to kill so many of them off, since unborn black children in America are disproportionately the victims of abortion – but I digress.
They also know that, if just 25% of black voters actually vote the values they express in multiple polls and surveys, and they begin to demonstrate at the ballot box the diversity of thought and opinion which characterizes every other demographic group, despite the liberal claim that people of a particular race, gender, ethnicity, class or sexual tendency must think only one way, they would never win a national election again.
Since legal discrimination is a relic of history, and overt racism is repudiated by most Americans, what’s a liberal elite to do to keep black people loyal and in the fold?
They have to create a modern American political myth which has racism lying in wait, latent and boiling, just under the surface, awaiting the emergence of the evil conservatives with their spells and incantations, and their cleaned and pressed Klan robes hanging in their closets, to tear apart the fragile fabric that protects us from the plague they wish to unleash upon the peaceful, tolerant American villagers.
As a result, they scan the airwaves looking for incidents and statements to validate their myth, and if they find something, they have the power, through their pervasive presence within and ownership of every opinion-shaping institution in the country, to blow it completely out of proportion. If they can’t find something, they invent “code words” to the point where using the English language becomes a trip through a rhetorical land mine, because the uninitiated public never knows which words are now considered racist until they’ve uttered them. It’s in their political interests to keep black people in a constant state of resentment over their current circumstances, and unending bitterness over the past.
The condition of black America today offers liberal elites a powerful lever to advance their meme of an inherently racist society, but one wonders why that is the case? After half a century of government social experiments, judicial rulings, tens of trillions of dollars spent, and the increasing number of blacks elected to public office, including the Oval Office, why has the plight of black Americans, specifically those trapped in generational poverty, not improved but, in many cases, has worsened? After all, didn’t the liberals promise to keep racism at bay so black people could thrive? It seems to me that, if they claim to be the defenders and providers for us black people, they’ve done a terrible job and should be fired.
The evidence suggests that changes in culture could have a greater positive impact on the black community than the 50 years of trial and error represented by government intervention in our lives. There is one powerful example I often cite in my articles and speeches. Black children raised in a home with a single parent are five times more likely to be poor than black children raised in a home with a married mother and father. Can you imagine the ascendancy of a black community with only single-digit poverty? If the restoration of the black family is the solution, why aren’t we about the business of rebuilding our families, which needs no one’s sanction and isn’t affected by the presence of racism, whatever you may believe about its pervasiveness in American society?
After all, in the early 1950s, when racism was socially acceptable and discrimination was the law, 80 percent of black children lived in a home with a married mother and father. If that statistic were maintained throughout the civil rights movement, the combination of familial stability, created by the presence of a mother and a father in the home, and the enforcement of our legal rights would have broken the cycle of generational poverty, and racism wouldn’t have any say in the matter.
We have expended so much energy on the bogeymen under the bed and in the closet, however, that we haven’t noticed that the house is crumbling. We trusted the liberal elites and government to be not only the protectors of our liberties, a responsibility they had neglected right up until the 1960s, but also the providers of our needs, which is supposed to be our responsibility. Their policies and programs replaced our men as breadwinners and the primary source of our security, emasculating them and absolving them of the maturing responsibility of being husbands and fathers.
The result is a generation of “lost boys” who, lacking fathers to teach them how to be men, are dropping out of school, living in poverty, and struggling with despair and hopelessness which often leads to crime, incarceration or untimely death, or a lifetime of drug and alcohol addiction which numbs the pain, but slowly bleeds their lives away. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s not an abstract construct to me. I’ve seen my son’s friends, and members of my extended family, make choices that adversely altered the paths of their lives, and there wasn’t a white person holding a gun to their heads, forcing them to make those choices.
Some would argue that we are overcoming generations of negative socialization which devalued us and caused us to question our worth, and I don’t deny that was the case. We are in the 21st century, however, and the fact we are still lagging after half a century of concerted governmental effort, the rise of the black middle class, the existence of black millionaires and billionaires, and the presence of a black man in the White House, should cause us to question everything we’ve been doing up to this point, and compel us to look for different methods to solve our seemingly intractable problems.
At this point, I’m sure many of you are expecting me to launch into a pitch for black people to become Republicans – and you’d be wrong. For reasons I’ve articulated many times in the past, I align myself with Republicans but, like Democrats, they are motivated by power, and we are not better served by politics or government, regardless of which party rules. It’s not an indictment of the party, but simply the nature of politics, and while I have great respect for the conservative values espoused by the Republican Party, I haven’t elevated them to the role of savior.
If anything concerns me about the monopoly the Democrats have in the black community, it’s the near-religious fervor that elevates one political party and ideology as somehow more righteous than the other. When we let our feelings take precedence over a clear-eyed, clear headed realism about the nature of politics, politicians and government, we set ourselves up to be easily manipulated and misled.
Have we forgotten that the government in which we place so much trust is the same one which ignored the suppression of our rights as citizens until only two generations ago? Do we honestly believe that government makes promises to us out of affection for us as a people, and do we really expect those promises to be kept if we give them our votes without question or at least the threat of going elsewhere?
On a personal note, have you ever tested the liberal claim of conservative racism for yourself, rather than taking their word for it? I have, and I’ve found respect, love and grace in unexpected places. It’s amazing how kind and generous people can be when you approach them without apprehension or suspicion. As I said to myself 31 years ago, when a room filled with white College Republicans elected me, a virtually unknown black man from Texas Tech University, as their executive vice-chairman in a landslide, “If Republicans hate black people, they have a funny way of showing it.”
I’ve spoken at Tea Party events where white people I’d just met put me up at their homes so I wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel, and they even fed me home-cooked meals, and not once did they try to poison me, hang me from a tree, or put me “back in chains.” I’ve had them take up spontaneous “love offerings” to pay for the gas and food expenses I incurred while traveling to their locations to speak, and I never had to ask for their help because it was always offered. Even this week, as I wrote this article, a white acquaintance I know only through Facebook sent me an unsolicited money order, comprised of the tips he made on his delivery job, to offset the costs of sharing my book with others.
Truth be told, the worst treatment I’ve ever received in the public square has come from white liberals and blacks who reject my values and condemn me for not thinking like them.
I don’t give humans credit for omniscience. Therefore, unless someone has demonstrated prejudice toward me, I’m not inclined to accuse them of it or suppose they are because of who they are. In my worldview, that’s grace, since all of us are sinners and have fallen short of holiness. I simply try to make room in my life for as many people as are willing to engage with me. I feel like I learn something from every encounter, and I hope I represent my worldview with integrity, and the God I serve with honor. Life is too short for me to close off anyone, and I try to live by the admonition of Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
One of my favorite quotes from Zora Neale Hurston, the famous black author and, surprisingly to those who don’t know her, a conservative, follows, and it sums up my attitude about people who would reject a relationship with someone else strictly due to race:
Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.
In the end, the supposition that half of my white American brothers and sisters are “anti-black” does not describe my 53 years of human experience and, frankly, I refuse to live my life in a state of constant trepidation and distrust toward white people without cause. My ancestors suffered real racism and overcame it so I could be free from the burden they carried, and the anxiety, resentment and hatred generated by a perpetual state of grievance and “dog whistle” bigotry are, in the end, destructive only to me.
By approaching everyone expecting to be treated as a sovereign individual and not a member of a tribe, I find that’s usually how I am received in return, and it has made for a contented and blessed life. That’s not a protest, methinks – that’s a praise.