The present fight for America’s soul lies with an observation made by what Booker T. Washington over 120 years ago. He is quoted as saying:
“There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
These charlatans are easy to identify in contemporary American culture, because it’s in vogue and because there is no penalty for being too woke. President Barack Obama – while president – claimed that racism was part of our DNA. The implication was that white people would forever be evil unless leftists like him lorded over the country and eradicated it. Former First Lady Michelle Obama remarked she had never been proud of her country until it elected her half-black husband as president. She then changed her narrative once he left office and resumed saying that the intersection of race and power was nakedly exposed. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be nobodies if not for the purpose given to them by individuals who often engage in criminal activities and whose interactions with police often turn violent and deadly (usually on the part of the suspects first). The director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson, is an egregious liar who says that slavery was not abolished in 1865; instead, it simply evolved, as he puts it. He cites Jim Crow, sharecropping, mass incarceration, convict leasing, and lynching as the basis for this incendiary and ahistorical charge.
This last matter deserves a rebuttal on each count. Bryan Stevenson best personifies the race-hustling imagined by Booker T. Washington so long ago. Counter to Mr. Stevenson’s claim, slavery was indeed abolished in 1865, at the cost of hundreds of thousands – predominantly white – lives. The vast majority of these soldiers did not own slaves, even the Southern ones. There are acres of mass graves and cemeteries, as well as a constitutional amendment, to attest to the fact of slavery’s abolition. As far as Jim Crow, the last relics were banned by the Civil Rights Act of 1965, although other institutional changes had already been underway (Brown v. Board, for example, was heard in 1954). If anything else, the fact that the black Stevenson can spout this nonsense against white society is proof enough that we have changed. He’s the worst kind of fraud.
And it isn’t even just the change in laws. Radio host Larry Elder often cities polls from the mid-20th century and nowadays related to acceptance of interracial marriages. In 1958, just 4% of Americans approved of interracial marriages; that number climbed to 86% by 2007 among white Americans between the ages of 18 and 49, and common sense suggests that number is higher today. This change in mindset is surely an even more powerful claim against supposed racism in the fabric of American society than legal changes.
To suggest that sharecropping akin to slavery is stupid at best and malicious at worst. Millions of slaves still in bondage across several African nations would love the opportunity to be free of their shackles and working land for themselves (or whatever an appropriate analogy might be – like engaging in only consensual sex?). It also ignores historical truths. Amazingly, two-thirds of all American sharecroppers were white, and for post-Civil War black Americans, it provided a much-needed source of pride, purpose, and income. What else were the millions of freed, and tragically uneducated, blacks suddenly supposed to do? At any rate, millions more whites than blacks were “subjugated” under this form of slavery, but Mr. Stevenson chooses not to interact with that inconvenient fact.
The argument against mass incarceration is entirely misleading. To the rising number of black inmates, it is easiest to point out that leading Democrats (Joe Biden among them) and black urban leaders all wanted stricter enforcement to rid their tormented communities of crack cocaine and uncontrollable violence in the 1980s and 1990s. If Mr. Stevenson is upset about increased rates of incarceration, he need look no further than toward prominent black mayors and Congressional Democrats. Moreover, mental contortions on a scale of the Great Houdini writhing his way out of a straitjacket while immersed in a tub of water must play out for leftists to believe that most blacks in prison are completely innocent. This column staunchly defends Mr. Stevenson’s legal activities seeking to free wrongly convicted men of all backgrounds. That being said, this column condemns in the strongest way possible his attempt to cite racism as a reason for millions of blacks choosing to commit crimes. Incarceration is largely dependent on a choice to engage in criminal enterprises. It is insulting, and would appear to be racist, to suggest blacks lack agency, as Mr. Stevenson contends. If more blacks commit crimes, then more blacks will end up in the justice system. Men pay more for car insurance than women. Is that sexist or based on a reality?
A quick scroll of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Twitter feed reveals daily reminders of past incidents of racism. The purported purpose of these tweets is to share America’s collective history, but underneath is a malignant mission to undermine race relations and create further divisions where none need to exist. Is it relevant to remind us that, according to its tweet for December 5th, “On this day in 1910, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that an 8-year-old girl was prohibited from attending her local public school because she was one-sixteenth black”? Viewed through our evolved lens of equality and justice, this ruling is an abomination. No American would disagree with that. This also happened 110 years ago and is ineffably still being used to justify disparaging the country and labeling hundreds of millions of decent people as white supremacists. To quote Thomas Sowell: “Racism is not dead. But it is kept on life support – kept alive by politicians, race hustlers, and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as racists.” I suppose this is why Sowell is not put on posters or slideshows in school hallways during February.
Voices ranging from Bryan Stevenson to Beyonce are upheld by megaphones. It is hard to see, however, equality of black voices when every major streaming platform posts banners for Black Lives Matter and every major corporation sends a generic email each time a politicized death provides an opportunity to signal their virtues while simultaneously silencing dissenting views. Larry Elder’s Uncle Tom, for which he makes a strong case for being an Oscar contender, won’t be seen on Netflix. Shelby Steele’s loom back at the Ferguson disaster was likewise declined by Amazon. What does it say about a movement when it rejects strong, powerful, and eloquent voices for black lives and instead favors an inarticulate, mumbling, man-drugging, and WAP-singing buffoon?
Although Black Lives Matter specifically and leftism in general claim to support black lives, there is a major disconnect between spoken vision and acted mission. Indeed, BLM doesn’t support all black lives; it simply supports black lives that parrot the leftist message. Their being black is useful but ultimately inconsequential. They are Stalin’s “useful idiots.”
In our national conversation on race (which is more of a monologic diatribe), the ideas laid out here are dependent on the background of the speaker. Indeed, were the author of this piece known to be white, they would be summarily aspersed as a racist and showing their fragility. However, if the author of this piece were known to be black, the content would instead be ignored. The left will not interact with an idea, it will only disparage a person so as to avoid the topic altogether.
Black lives will ultimately matter when organizations like Black Lives Matter and ideologies like leftism elevate and celebrate each black life for the treasure that it is. Ignoring wisdom from the likes of a Thomas Sowell or a Walter Williams, passion for America from a Herman Cain or an Allen West, and the search for truth from a Larry Elder or Candace Owens continues to serve a political purpose but does nothing for each sacred black life.
With regard to the national conversation on race, when will each of these uniquely invaluable black voices also be heard? Until all black stories and voices are heard, Black History Month is a lie. It is not Black History Month, it is only a select history of narrative-conforming blacks. For now, it is obvious that some black lives and voices are more equal than others.