Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Elder Wisdom: Black History Month

What I am about to write goes against my philosophy. I want to write about a few black authors and their works.

Why should I bristle at this idea? Why merely take the works of some black authors? Shouldn't I look for good writing from as many authors as possible?

Some folks often look to black history in February. Lessons in school, news paper stories and editorials, subjects for radio and television talk shows, water cooler talk, workshops and policies at work and local community centers, and so on. A month? A whole month? The very idea raises the question, "Why not Jewish History month? Communist Chinese Escapee Month? Italian Surrender and Cheap Auto Mechanic History Month?"

Screw it. I'll subdivide my list of authors... but if I'm only going to check out some black authors I'm going to further limit my choices: Black Conservative Day. (The sort of stuff that has blue-staters seeing red... if you know what I mean.)

The idea popped into my head while reading a piece from Larry Elder (and while writing an introduction to this post). A great column about visiting the old neighborhood barbershop with his old man. (Instantly the movie "Barbershop" came to mind, so I got hooked... nice job, Mr. Elder.) He noted several useful reminders for Black History Month, but he did this back in December of 2005.
The barber offered to take my dad right away, cutting in front of others, but [D]ad and I quickly refused. As we waited, one of the barbers and I began talking about what the barber called the "problem of racism." I argued that racism no longer posed a significant obstacle to black progress. What other country could produce a Colin Powell, a Condi Rice, an Oprah Winfrey, a Tiger Woods, a Barack Obama and a Snoop Dogg?

Larry: What about my dad? How did he manage? How do you compare what it's like now to what it was like then? He grew up in the Jim Crow South during the Depression, when black adult unemployment was 50 percent. He dropped out of school at age 13, after his mother threw him out of the house in favor of her then-boyfriend. Hard jobs followed, and he served in World War II. When he came out, he worked two full-time jobs as a janitor, cooked for a family on the weekends and went to night school to get his high school G.E.D. He saved his money and somehow managed to start a restaurant when he was in his 40s, which he ran until he was in his 80s. If racism didn't stop him then, how can racism stop you today? And he votes Republican!

Needless to say he got the attention of one of the customers.

He also pointed out some very key details regarding blacks and civil rights.

If only blacks knew of the true history of the Democratic Party.

"Black History Month" has been observed for 29 years, yet many blacks know little to nothing about the parties' respective roles in advancing or hindering the civil rights of blacks. How many blacks know that following the Civil War, 23 blacks -- 13 of them ex-slaves -- were elected to Congress, all as Republicans? The first black Democrat was not elected to Congress until 1935, from the state of Illinois. The first black congressional Democrat from a Southern state was not elected until 1973.


Civil rights in the '60s? Only 64 percent of Democrats in Congress voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act (153 for, 91 against in the House; and 46 for, 21 against in the Senate). But 80 percent of Republicans (136 for, 35 against in the House; and 27 for, 6 against in the Senate) voted for the 1964 Act.

Of course, he's got more in that column for you!

Larry Elder wasn't on my list of regular reads, but he is now. For some time, though, Dr. Walter E. Williams has been on my regular read list. I first saw him while flipping channels on television (he was on a show with Montel Williams). A few years later I heard him sub for Rush Limbaugh. When I learned he wrote a weekly column I was thrilled.

Williams writes as an economist. (Two Walter E. Williams hail from Philly and are economists, but our Williams points out that the other is a bit of a socialist.) Go ahead and read any of his columns... some cover education, economics, politics, social issues. All worth checking out.

Last October he covered poor families in white and black American families in this column:
Though I grow weary of pointing it out, let's do it again. Let's examine some numbers readily available from the Census Bureau's 2004 Current Population Survey and ask some questions. There's one segment of the black population that suffers only a 9.9 percent poverty rate, and only 13.7 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor. There's another segment that suffers a 39.5 percent poverty rate, and 58.1 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor. Among whites, one segment suffers a 6 percent poverty rate, and only 9.9 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor. The other segment suffers a 26.4 percent poverty rate, and 52 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor. What do you think distinguishes the high and low poverty populations among blacks?

Would you buy an explanation that it's because white people practice discrimination against one segment of the black population and not the other or one segment had a history of slavery and not the other? You'd have to be a lunatic to buy such an explanation. The only distinction between both the black and white populations is marriage -- lower poverty in married-couple families.
That's the tip of the iceberg. Read on.

Another relatively recent name on my list... Thomas Sowell. Publicity for his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals certainly caught my attention. (I still need to read the book.) I've also heard him a couple of times on the radio. Clearly a bright guy with a talent for getting ideas across... which really helps me out on some issues. One of his columns in early November covered civil rights.

While blacks have had a long struggle to achieve the civil rights that many other Americans took for granted, not everything that has advanced blacks in the past or that can advance blacks in the future, is a civil right. In fact, the most dramatic economic advancements of blacks, in both incomes and occupations, occurred in the years immediately before the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.

The effect of government policies on blacks cannot be judged by whether these policies were conceived or carried out with blacks in mind.

Obviously, there's more than these guys.

There's Armstrong Williams:

To this day, many black officeholders depend on the perception of on-going, widespread racism in order to remain competitive in the electoral process. They underplay the dramatic improvements in economic and social status experienced by blacks over the last 40 years. Large numbers of their constituents, particularly those who came to age during the overt racism of the past half century, continue to believe that the problems confronting the black lower class stem primarily from racism.

Herein lies the greatest missed opportunity of the civil rights movement. They never prepared for the day when whites would start treating minorities as equals. Their entire public image, their very legitimacy as political and cultural spokespersons--was predicated on the rhetoric of a black versus white war. As Justice Clarence Thomas once observed, the [civil rights] revolution missed a larger point by merely changing the status [of minorities] from invisible to victimized.

Tragically, this point was also missed by the pop culture, which glorifies images of black misogyny, violence and victimization. We hold up gansta rappers as models of achievement. Hey, they’re just keeping it real we say. Meanwhile our children stare at these sociopaths with adoring eyes. They emulate their mean sense of entitlement, their broken English, and their violence, because this is what the popular culture tells us it means to be black.

What about Star Parker:

I wrote a book called "Uncle Sam's Plantation." I used the plantation analogy because the bigger government is, the less control individuals have over their own lives and the more dependent they are on the decisions that others, i.e., politicians, make for them. For poor folks, reliance on government builds a culture of dependency that often never ends. It is generally appreciated today the damage that the welfare state caused in poor, mostly black, communities.

We've got kids from poor families all over the country today trapped in pathetic, failing inner city public schools. Yet in a nation which prides itself on being free, we refuse to allow competition and allow parents to choose where to send their kid to school. This defines a big government plantation.

Mrs. Clinton analogizing the House of Representatives to a plantation is absurd. No one is forced to be there. Members are elected every two years. What Mrs. Clinton doesn't like is that Americans keep re-electing Republicans and putting them in control. And this means more initiatives to try and reduce the big government plantation that Hillary in fact loves. Recall that her answer to health care was to essentially nationalize it.

You can find more, too. Easy as pie. However, why look for a columnist with black skin... look for anyone with good writing and reason. That said, you're sure to find at least a couple of these folks when you do hunt down a good columnist.

Check some of these:
Jewish World Review
National Review
Town Hall


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