Juan Williams on the culture of failure in black America

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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