Juan Williams on the culture of failure in black America

Posted by: ST on August 21, 2006 at 10:47 am

Fox News political analyst and NPR correspondent Juan Williams has a must-read opinion piece in today’s Washington Post that addresses some of the problems faced in the black community today, like single-parenthood and failure to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to them thanks to civil rights leaders from the past . He writes:

With 50 percent of Hispanic children and nearly 70 percent of black children born to single women today these young people too often come from fractured families where there is little time for parenting. Their search for identity and a sense of direction is undermined by a twisted popular culture that focuses on the “bling-bling” of fast money associated with famous basketball players, rap artists, drug dealers and the idea that women are at their best when flaunting their sexuality and having babies.

In Washington, where a crime wave is tied to these troubled young souls, the city reacts with a curfew. It is a band-aid. The real question is how one does battle with the culture of failure that is poisoning young people — and do so without incurring the wrath of critics who say we are closing our eyes to existing racial injustice and are “blaming the victim.”

Recently Bill Cosby has once again run up against these critics. In 2004, on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Cosby took on that culture of failure in a speech that was a true successor to W.E.B. DuBois’s 1903 declaration that breaking the color line of segregation would be the main historical challenge for 20th-century America. In a nation where it is getting tougher and tougher to afford a house, health insurance and a college education — in other words, to attain solid middle-class status — Cosby decried the excuses for opting out of the competition altogether.

Cosby said that the quarter of black Americans still living in poverty are failing to hold up their end of a deal with history when they don’t take advantage of the opportunities created by the Supreme Court’s Brown decision and the sacrifices of civil rights leaders from Martin Luther King Jr. to Thurgood Marshall and Malcolm X. Those leaders in the 1950s and ’60s opened doors by winning passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and fair housing laws. Their triumphs led to the nationwide rise in black political power on school boards and in city halls and Congress.

While I take exception to him referring to Malcolm X as a ‘civil rights leader’ (even though MX did eventually renounce the Nation of Islam and see the error of his ways – which was, as Larry Elder described it, “knowingly signing his own death warrant”), that doesn’t detract from Williams points.

From what I understand, this article provides a sneak peek as to what Williams book Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America–and What We Can Do About It is supposed to be about. I’d read some favorable comments on the book recently from some other conservative blogs, and had considered buying it based on those comments, but reading this opinion peace seals the deal for me. I’ll be picking up my copy this weekend.

I’ve often said that white convservatives can talk about problems in the black community all day long – and believe me, I’ve spent a fair amount of time at this blog talking about them. But the people who stand the real chance of making a difference in the black community are people of influence in the black community themselves who rise above race pimps like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to discuss real solutions to the problems that plague black people in America, many of them self-imposed and embellished by the likes of Jackson and Sharpton. If they are willing to endure the labels from the usual suspects – who use racial slurs like “Oreo” and “Uncle Tom” and “house slave” towards any black person who doesn’t toe the “white man is oppressing you” line – in an effort to inspire real, radical change in the black community, more power to ’em.

Hat tip: Betsy Newmark

BTW, I’ll be guest blogging alongside Betsy, Mary Katharine Ham, and Danny Carlton — alias “Jack Lewis” later today at Right Wing News (having issues accessing RWN right now, though …).

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16 Responses to “Juan Williams on the culture of failure in black America”


  1. MoeChicago says:

    Juan Williams is a breath of fresh air. So is Bill Cosby. I am a black male and I fervently believe that the black community desperately needs an ideological civil war. We need to question the ideas of the Sharptons and his ilk as well as call into question the lack of courage exhibited by so many in the black community who agree with the likes of Williams, Cosby, Debra Dickerson, Stanley Crouch, John McWhorter and so on, but who refuse to speak up. I am a liberal democrat and I know that the people I mentioned are not Fox News conservatives. In fact, this question has very little to do with political ideology at all. It is actual about simple common sense and moral courage. Kudos to Williams for adding to what may turn out to be among the opening salvos in a very much needed battle.

  2. Dana says:

    Our beautiful blogmistress should always be guest bloging at RWN!

  3. Drewsmom says:

    Juan is o.k. BUT sometimes when he is on Brit Hume’s panel he strays a little too far.:-?

  4. David S. says:

    Finally, a voice of reason in such trying times and related to such a sensitive issue. I have been in the field of social services for the last 25 years and have watched as the “leadership” of black America has espoused their own form of predjudice for the “white, insensitive,culturally ignorant, and racially biased”, establishment. This establishment is me. I have worked hard to achieve and earn what I have. Along the way I, and millions like myself have watched billions of dollars go to affirmative action in an attempt to make a difference. This same “establishment” has given time, money, and we have sacrificed while seeking after the betterment of all peoples, of all races in this country. I believe, the Sharptons, Jacksons and the like espouse a subtle hatred that is not in keeping with the the mainstream majority of those who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances. Their rhetoric is, in my opinion, spoken only in order to advance their own greedy agenda, which in turn feeds their own coffers at the expense of their own people. It is long past time to put aside political agendas, stop pointing fingers, and work toward solving problems. We are, in my opinion as a professional social services provider, rapidly running out of time. Mr. Williams, thank you for your candor. Let’s hope it isn’t too little too late.

  5. Marshall Art says:

    I bristle at much of what Williams says on Fox (and you know how uncomfortable bristling can be), but here he speaks what needs to be spoken. It’s a universal message that applies to everyone, but until Cosby (the first salvo originated from him, but that’s OK) and now Williams, this message seemed to be ignored in the black community as they furthered their faux culture. I don’t mean that as a slight, except to say that in the last twenty-five years or so, there seemed to be a conscious design to separate themselves. I don’t believe in doing that, but alone, it isn’t so bad. But add to it, a “culture” that seemed to elevate negative and even criminal behavior as well as employing victimhood as a way of life, well, how could things improve for the average black person?

    I also have to clarify that the first salvos where sent out long ago, by ministers in their churches and also by people like Walt Williams and of course, Thomas Sowell, but a Cosby is required to make them really hear it. Just think if a Denzel or an Ice-Cube would get on board!

  6. DarkStar says:

    Can someone tell me when “Black leaders” have made:

    Women get an abortion?
    People take drugs?
    People commit crimes?

    When Cosby is doing his “tour”, do the people who really need to hear it, hear it? Answer: no.

    Despite Sharpton and Jackson, most Blacks support vouchers. Despite Sharpton and Jackson, most Blacks are against “gay marriage.” Despite Sharpton and Jackson, most votes who are eligible to vote, don’t vote. Despite Sharpton and Jackson, the membership numbers of the NAACP are falling as most younger Blacks don’t join the NAACP.

    So, who is it, ohhhh wise people, that Sharpton and Jackson have any power over Black people?

    Interesting factoid: When Sharpton ran for the Dem prez nomination, he won only one majority Black voting district. If Sharpton has sway, how is it he only one one?

    But it’s much easier to put out red herrings concerning them then really delve into issues and think.

  7. forest hunter says:

    “But it’s much easier to put out red herrings concerning them then really delve into issues and think.
    Comment by DarkStar @ 8/21/2006 – 11:37 pm”

    Apparently so. You just did.

    Do you actually have a point…..something to add……reading comprehension issues……ideas how to address the obvious problems in the current black community……..ohhhh wise Darkstar?

  8. Baklava says:

    Yes. DS. It’s much easier to put out red herrings like the SS going on until the 2000’s. Hopefully you’ve finally gotten off of that train but I’m not thinking you have with that post of yours. Lots of sarcasm. Who is it directed at? And what is your point?

    Isn’t it time to promote Ward Connerly’s ideas yet or you interested in just attacking the man still?

  9. Lorica says:

    Well it is good to see the Lib coming around. He is still 10 years behind Alan Keyes tho. – Lorica

  10. delorse dapaah says:

    I think you make a good point on the black community and how there is an extreme emergency for our youth to get it together and start leaning toward more leadership professions if we are to stomp this whole poverty and lack of knowledge in our communities. In so many words your sarcasim toward Mr. Sharpton and Jackson expresses a sign of a group of people who are tired of the same old black faces of politics. We are in times of great urgency to solve out rapid decline in every espect os society except what we are known for doing best performing on a stage. We all should be ashamed of ourselves leaving the responsibilities of being heard and wanting to see change on a man who initially came to us through art and entertainment, not from a well accredited college of law or politics. politicians are needed in the black community and instead of raising our children to be rappers we need to raise them to be presidents and Ceo’s. Why are we so lost and others have continued to stay on track no matter how difficult the struggle?

  11. Severian says:

    We all should be ashamed of ourselves leaving the responsibilities of being heard and wanting to see change on a man who initially came to us through art and entertainment, not from a well accredited college of law or politics. politicians are needed in the black community and instead of raising our children to be rappers we need to raise them to be presidents and Ceo’s. Why are we so lost and others have continued to stay on track no matter how difficult the struggle?

    Excellent observation and question dd. It is sad, and says something not good, when a culture/society’s hero’s are not men and women of learning and achievement in industry, politics, sciences, etc. but are merely entertainers of one sort or another, athletes, muscians, and the like. For one thing, it seems to indicate a culture that believes in and focuses on a “get rich quick” mentality rather than by slow, steady effort and work. You can see it’s effects when people insult and ridicule minorities who have “played by the rules” and worked hard and achieved something as “oreos” or house servants while gansta thug rappers are idolized and looked up to. It’s a broken system, instead of working to pull themselves up too many seem to find it easier to pull everyone else down, denigrating the efforts and success of others rather than looking up to them.

  12. DarkStar says:

    For the logic impared (Forest Hunter and Baklava), why the need to focus on “Black leaders” when they have no impact on the Black community? Answer: there is no real need except to throw red meat at those who live off of going after “Black leaders” but it does nothing to address the issues at hand.

    About 26% of abortions are by Black women. What makes anything think that something Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Sr., or Bill Cosby says will make that go up or down?

    How come no public Black conservatives write about groups like these that are listed at http://blackselfhelp.info?

    It’s also interesting that people are not noticing that Juan Williams is talking about 20% of the Black population, yet people, here, make it seem as if 100% of the Black population are “lost”.

  13. Baklava says:

    For the attacking types (incessant attacker Darkstar), why the need to focus on attacking. Why not answer the question about what you are for so that we can actually understand what you are for. Are you ashamed of something?

    Are you for institutionalized racism (preferential treatment) or against it?

    So you don’t like something. We understand that. Now tell us what you like for once.

  14. Baklava says:


    I’m sorry. I searched for 5 minutes and couldn’t find the answer as to whether Darkstar is for or against intitutionalized racism (preferential treatment based on race).

    It’d be helpful if you could a) not attack others and b) answer the direct question.

    It’s ok. Others state their beliefs and you diagree with them. We may disagree on what you believe in. It’ll be alright.

  15. Baklava says: