I want blacks today to recognize that the slave legacy and modern racism only hold us back if we decide to let them
Showing Charles Blow the way off the plantation
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The New York Times is at it again.
Apparently the New York Times employs a columnist named Charles Blow – a black man who has a problem with another black man. Me.
Mr. Blow has a problem with me because, during my presidential campaign, I said that I had “left the Democrat plantation” (and yes I did say that) and I said that I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way. I said that too.
I also said – in the context of political ideology – that blacks in this country have been brainwashed.
These comments on my part serve as self-evident proof, as far as Mr. Blow is concerned, that we are not making progress toward racial harmony.
What’s most interesting about Mr. Blow’s criticism of me is that he also spends time in the piece citing the high rate of incarceration among black men as evidence that we are not making progress. On this point we agree, but Mr. Blow seems to completely miss the point that we solve problems like that by being honest with ourselves and with each other about how we correct the problems that linger today in large part because of the injustices we suffered in the past.
Too many black men are incarcerated because of behaviors for which the black community should be the first to demand accountability. The fact that we continue to see ourselves as victims not responsible for our own state of affairs has everything to do with why we still face problems like this.
Mr. Blow doesn’t like the fact that I referenced plantations, since I am obviously using a metaphor related to slavery, and this – I guess – is supposed to be beyond the pale. In the same piece, he complains about the number of times the N-word is used in the recently released film about Abraham Lincoln.
As much as I understand the sensitivities evoked by these references – a horribly derogatory word, a reference to slavery – it’s time for black people to stop being so afraid of words and references, and to start accepting that we have the power to change our situations.
I recently made a very strong criticism of Mr. Blow’s newspaper for running a piece by Professor Adolph Reed of the University of Pennsylvania, which criticized black Republicans as “tokens” and claimed that Republican policies are contrary to “black interests.” The very notion of black interests – particularly in the way Professor Reed means it – is a perfect example of what I mean when I say blacks have been politically brainwashed. I believe there is no such thing as “black interests.” There are the best interests of our nation, and the best interests of each of us as individuals.
Not all black people are the same, have the same goals or face the same challenges. In the mind of Professor Reed and others who believe blacks must vote for the Democratic Party, “black interests” are served by an expansive, redistributionist welfare state. A black Republican like me, who supports public policies that favor entrepreneurship, private wealth creation and limited government is thought by the likes of Reed and Blow to be acting against the best interests of my race.
What does that tell you about how they see black people? It tells you that they do not look at black people and see entrepreneurs and self-sufficient achievers. It tells you they see black people as perpetual wards of the state, who can only make it in life with the never-ending support of government.
Anyone who thinks that way is not only stuck on the plantation, but serves as a de facto slaveholder as well because he doesn’t want any of the rest of us to leave either. Mr. Blow disapprovingly cites pro-slavery arguments from the Civil War era that claimed blacks were better off as slaves in America than as free men in Africa because they were so well cared for. Mr. Blow is right. This argument was appalling in every way.
But without realizing it, he makes the same argument in urging blacks today to keep voting Democratic. Black people are better off cutting the cord of government dependency and becoming truly free to seek out their own heights of achievement.
The historical injustice of slavery should never be forgotten, but neither should we be using it 150 years later as an excuse for our continued lack of achievement. Racism does still exist, and it’s unfair and unjust. But everyone who tries to achieve will face some sort unfairness, some sort of injustice. Those who refuse to be defeated by it are the ones who rise the highest.
I want blacks today to recognize that the slave legacy and modern racism only hold us back if we decide to let them, because by continuing to give them power over us – and by supporting politicians who encourage us to do the same – we volunteer to remain on the plantation.
Not me. I can make my own destiny. If Mr. Blow would be interested, I can show him how.