Many black Americans are making bad choices from having children out of wedlock and embracing a violent inner-city culture that keep them from reaching their potential, and liberal government policies are encouraging them to make those bad decisions, argues Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley.
Riley is author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed.” Instead of encouraging black people to dream big and take responsibility for their actions, he said liberal politicians and civil-rights leaders are more interested in telling them who to blame for their condition.
“They want to keep the focus on white behavior, not black behavior,” he said. “That’s the agenda of the black leadership today, from the NAACP to Al Sharpton to Jesse Jackson: We’re not talking about black behavior. All the bad black outcomes we see are a result of white racism. That’s their narrative, and they want to stick to it.”
As policy experts debate the effectiveness of Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” Riley said the path to advancement is the same for black people as it has been for all other demographics: less government assistance and more individual achievement.
“Blacks must ultimately help themselves by developing the same habits and behaviors and attitudes that other groups in America had to develop in order to rise here,” he said. “To the extent that a government program or policy – however well-intentioned – interferes with that self-development, it does more harm than good.”
Riley added, “I argue that blacks have been subjected to a lot of policies that aren’t doing them any good by interfering with the necessary self-development that needs to take place. For instance, trying to replace a father in the home with a government check is not helpful, but that’s what a lot of these welfare policies have attempted to do over the decades.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Jason Riley:
If the pathway to societal advancement is well-established, why are so many in the black community choosing not to take it?
“I think the left has done a brilliant job of convincing blacks that government is good for them, and the more government the better. So you get an over-dependence on government among blacks, both in terms of jobs in the federal government, the military, the post office, civil-service jobs or in terms of handouts like food stamps and welfare.”
According to Riley, this problem is evident in countless areas of society. However, in just two examples, he says the damage done by the liberal approach to black Americans is most evident. Riley believes the first step toward addressing many ills of blacks is to get fathers back in the home. He said study after study shows that problems from criminal behavior to drug use and dropping out of school are greatly worsened when fathers aren’t living with their kids and active in their lives.
“You name it, there’s just a lot of bad things that happen when dads aren’t around, and that’s what you have as the norm in black communities,” he said. “As late as 1960, two in three black kids in this country grew up with a mother and a father in the home.
“Today, more than 70 percent do not. You can draw a straight line between that fact and a lot of the problems you see in the inner city, in these communities, where these young black men have no sense of what it means to be black or a man. And it’s because there’s no one around to teach them that,” said Riley, who argued the problem is made worse when people are condemned for urging responsible parenthood.
“When Bill Cosby wanted to talk about this a little while back, he got his head handed to him from the left, saying he was elitist, he was talking down to blacks, he was condescending,” Riley said. “Even when Obama on occasion and his wife have talked about absent fathers and the bad outcomes associated with that, they get slammed by the black left.”
Another major issue is crime, Riley explained. He said liberals and the media constantly focus on relations between blacks and the police and issues like racial profiling. However, Riley said the glaring issue is rampant black criminality, but few are interested in addressing it.
“Blacks are about 13 percent of the population but are responsible for about half of all murders in this country. Until that changes, you’re going to have tensions between the black community and police. Blacks are arrested at numbers two to three times their numbers in the population for all manner of violent crime, all manner of property crime in this country,” Riley said.
“Until it changes, racial profiling is going to be an issue. People – black and white – are going to view young black men suspiciously so long as crime rates are what they are.”
Black mobs routinely terrorize cities across the country, but the media and government are silent. Read the detailed account of rampant racial crime in “White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It.”
While the black vote overwhelmingly leans toward the Democratic Party, Riley asserts many black people are very frustrated with how Democrat leaders and prominent black figures approach key issues like education.
“Today you have civil-rights leaders siding with the teachers’ unions who, of course, put the interests of the adults in the school system ahead of the interest of the kids,” he said. “A disproportionate number of blacks get hurt that way by being stuck in the worst schools, even though polls have shown overwhelmingly for decades that parents, and poor parents in particular, favor school vouchers, favor charter schools and so forth.”
Riley said reaction to criticism of the conventional liberal approach to the black community comes in two forms. He said the elitists have no tolerance for him or any other black conservatives who dare to to challenge the system.
“I like to joke that black conservatives get put on the couch,” he said. “You know, Justice (Antonin) Scalia is just wrong as far as the left is concerned, or maybe a little evil. But Justice (Clarence) Thomas is a sell-out, Uncle Tom, self-hating. They put him on the couch and psychoanalyze him.”
However, he said many black people have responded very favorably to the criticisms and recommendations outlined in his book.
“I think a lot of blacks don’t self-identify as conservatives, but they agree with a lot of what I’m saying, particularly on the cultural stuff. Church leaders, business owners, parents who struggling with trying to shield their kids from this culture, the rap music and all that, the materialism and the violence, they get what I’m saying,” Riley said. “They understand this is something blacks are going to have to take care of on their own.”