Most of us have been told that the main contributor to the plight of black Americans is racism. If you watch a program on television that is discussing the black community, the subject inevitably comes up, doesn’t it?
You see groups like Black Lives Matter pushing a narrative that is designed to leave the impression that most, if not all, police officers are racists who enjoy beating and slaughtering innocent black people. You hear “black leaders” shout about the horrendous damage being done to the black community by white racism. The message is always the same: black Americans cannot get ahead in this country because white racists are hell-bent on keeping us down.
I’ve been fed this message since I was a child. As a black man, I have refused to accept it.
While there have been large strides made by and for black people over the years, as a race, we still face some serious issues. If these issues are not addressed, they will keep us in our current predicament. As I see it, there are three key problems preventing black people from reaching their full potential: unemployment, rampant crime, and poverty.
The current unemployment rate for Black Americans is almost nine percent, which is higher than any other ethnic group in the United States. Black people make up half of the nation’s murder victims while only representing thirteen percent of the entire population. Of these murder victims, ninety-three percent are killed by other black people. Currently, about twenty-seven percent of Black Americans live at or below the poverty level.
With the exception of poverty, these are not problems we have faced in the past. These are fairly recent issues. In a piece written for the National Review, noted economist Thomas Sowell writes,
As of 1960, 22 percent of black children were raised with only one parent, usually the mother. Thirty years later, two-thirds of black children were being raised without a father present. What about ghetto riots, crimes in general and murder in particular? What about low levels of labor force participation and high levels of welfare dependency? None of those things was as bad in the first 100 years after slavery as they became in the wake of the policies and notions of the 1960s.
Even in the time of Jim Crow, black people were not enduring murder and unemployment rates comparable to today. The most alarming trend is the murder rate in the black community. Jason R. Riley addresses this in a piece for The Washington Times. He writes, “Crime rates rose by 139 percent during the 1960s, and the murder rate doubled. Cities couldn’t hire cops fast enough.”
In a piece written for CNS News, Professor Walter E. Williams writes,
Today’s level of lawlessness and insecurity in many black communities is a relatively new phenomenon. In the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, people didn’t bar their windows. Doors were often left unlocked. People didn’t go to bed with the sounds of gunshots. What changed everything was the liberal vision that blamed crime on poverty and racial discrimination. Academic liberals and hustling politicians told us that to deal with crime, we had to deal with those “root causes.” Plus, courts began granting criminals new rights that caused murder and other violent crime rates to skyrocket. The liberals’ argument ignores the fact that there was far greater civility in black neighborhoods at a time when there was far greater poverty and discrimination.
If you listen to politicians on the left and many of our “black leaders,” they will tell you that the origin of these problems is racism. They identify racism as the single most important factor that is responsible for the precarious situation of many black Americans today. But is this true? Is racism the real cause of our struggles?
The notion that racism is the main cause of the obstacles we face is patently false. It’s a lie that has been perpetuated by the left and other prominent black figures. In many cases, the people who are telling the lie don’t even know that they’re being deceptive. They actually believe the lie.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist in the United States. It clearly does. I’m also not saying that racism doesn’t impact Americans of every race. What I am saying is that racism is not the primary issue holding black Americans back.
I believe that the single biggest cause of our predicament is the fact that we have accepted the victimhood status that has been foisted upon us. We have willingly accepted the lie that we can’t improve our station because of racism.
Yes, I know, you have probably heard this a million times. I’ll admit that it has become somewhat of a cliché among black conservatives. But it is far more destructive than we think it is.
The victimhood culture that we have embraced is the true cause of our hardships, not racism. White racism does not force a young black man to join a gang and shoot other young black men. White racism does not force black parents to reject marriage. White racism is not making it impossible for us to attend college, start businesses, or find employment.
In a video for Prager University, Larry Elder says the following about victimhood:
Nothing holds someone back more than seeing himself as a victim. Why? Because a victim is not responsible for his situation. Everything is someone else’s fault. And the victim sees little chance of improving his life. How can he get ahead if someone is holding him back? All this makes the victim unhappy, frustrated and angry. This is how too many blacks see themselves – as victims. So much so that their victim status becomes their primary identity and their ruling ideology. I call it victimology.
He’s right. One of the most dangerous aspects of victimhood is that it keeps us from taking responsibility for our situation. When we don’t take responsibility, we lose control. We aren’t able to effect the changes we wish to see. Elder also goes on to explain why so many black people subscribe to this “ruling ideology.”
Unfortunately, many black churches preach this “victimology,” many black parents pass it on to their children, inner-city schools teach it to their students and the black media reinforce it. Meanwhile, the NAACP and other black grievance groups fundraise on it.
I would add to this the role of leftist politicians. They preach a message of victimhood to the black community. They eloquently present this lie to us while simultaneously positioning government as our ultimate savior.
These politicians use promises of government largesse in return for our undying loyalty. Then, after we vote for them in droves, they do nothing except enact policies that are designed to keep us dependent on their “generosity” and our communities suffer greatly because of it. So many black communities in Inner cities governed by Democrats are in horrible condition.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that we fell into this trap; there are numerous institutions and people who continually tell us that we are victims who have little to no control over our circumstances. As Josef Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
We have been cheated by our politicians, institutions, and leaders. We have bought into an insidious lie that tells us that we have no real influence over our own lives.
It isn’t true.
We are no longer living under Jim Crow. The vast majority of white Americans are not bigots. If we are going to move forward as a community, we need to focus on the real causes of our problems.
The longer we blame white racism for our problems, the worse our circumstances will become. It is incumbent on the black community to take the steps necessary to eliminate the obstacles that keep us from being who we are meant to be. The first step? Stop believing the lies. Stop accepting the victimhood narrative that we have been sold. Only then can we seize control and work to change our circumstances.