Apparently the widely misunderstood nature of the movement named "Black Lives Matter" has necessitated a name change. A policy website entitled "The Movement for Black Lives" purports to seek the end of the "war on black lives" while outlining a vision for black lives through policy demands.
Excellent. Someone got the message that a majority of Americans aren't buying into a connection between the low number of blacks killed in police officer-involved shootings and an overall horrible condition of black people living in America. Bravo.
Yet there are still major issues with the new platform. There is a lot to absorb on the site, but of particular interest is the mention of their new focus: “While this platform is focused on domestic policies, we know that patriarchy, exploitative capitalism, militarism, and white supremacy know no borders.” Interesting. Now Americans are to stop working, investing, and otherwise enjoying the fruits of capitalism to realize that our very way of life, which makes our country the envy of the world, is “exploitative and militaristic.”
Next comes the call for reparations. You knew it was coming; I certainly did. The new Black Lives group “stands with descendants of African people all over the world in an ongoing call and struggle for reparations for the historic and continuing harms of colonialism and slavery.” These African people all over the world are struggling at the hands of American police? Confusing. Additionally, there is a call to join them as they “recognize and honor the rights and struggle of our Indigenous family for land and self-determination.”
“Land and self determination”? Right; gotcha. But how can one attain those outward symbols of wealth and accomplishment without addressing the inward-facing endemic cultural norms that plague the black community? It’s not possible to earn the type of living required to support a family with children and purchase property to live in without a solid high school education, no children out of wedlock, and a clean criminal history. No amount of activism or slick web presence can alter that fact.
Is Black Lives Matter setting not just race relations, but the reputation of black people in general back hundreds of years? A huge part of the American ethos is that we are a hardy, creative, hardworking people who rise to the challenge. Our history on race is a difficult one, which is ever evolving with a crowning achievement of electing a black president. But you would never know how closely knit relations between members of different races are in America by watching the news or reading the screed on the Black Lives Matter demand page.
We have a long way to go in the view of many Americans, yet why is it only black Americans that have our successes and failures rooted solely in the color of our skin and the actions of others? Proof that this is a flawed way of thinking can be found within the success stories of people of African descent that immigrate here from other lands. Immigrants from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and Nigeria prove that America is a land of opportunity, regardless of skin tone. These immigrants outperform blacks on every measure of success: Entrepreneurship, education, wealth attainment, and home ownership -- everything.
If low black achievement was really an issue of being held back by systemic white racism, then how could blacks from foreign lands ever immigrate to and succeed in America? The short answer is they could not.
Our focus on "race” -- a social construct that has been widely and roundly debunked by anthropologists and scientists alike -- is a distraction that prevents the solution: Truly addressing societal ills that stem from poor personal choices.
Whenever a writer, pundit, or politician points to personal choice as a cause of the ills facing black inner cities in America, they are roundly criticized or ignored. In the case of Bill Cosby, he has been utterly destroyed by a combination of his own poor personal choices and his decision to tell black teen to "pull up their pants" and "speak English!"
Yet if we cast our minds back to the '80s, when The Cosby Show was on television, that is precisely what his fictitious black family did! It was so refreshing to see a black family of means on TV, successfully navigating the pitfalls of marriage, parenthood, teen interactions, and work issues. It's still a beacon of excellence in programming, as a sought-after DVD set, with millions of American households watching it as a family to this day. So why deny its truths? Why ignore the statistics that show an intact family has fewer incidences of violence, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and criminal behavior? Why suddenly issue demands for reparations from whites alive today who have never owned slaves?
Why should we suddenly focus on the plight of transgendered people, who comprise less than one percent of the population of the United States, and have zero to do with the actual plight of the black community?
President Obama started the conversation back in 2004 during his keynote address to the DNC:
“Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.”
Bravo, Mr. President! Why hasn’t the horrendous truth of black kids being beaten up and harassed for studying and speaking proper English been discussed by politicians, teachers, activists, TV hosts -- anyone who claims to seek a better quality of life for blacks in America?
Because there are no Soros funds, television hits, or rallies centered on that type of talk. And that is the problem.
This post first appeared on TownHall.com