Changing Our Destiny
by Don Scoggins
It's unfortunate, but blacks will continue to suffer the consequences of socially destructive policies until we become more active in the political process.
Seizing control of one's own destiny is empowering and liberating. Simply relying on the government and our black "leadership" - with their outdated notions - as so many do right now, is downright enslaving.
Despite our rising numbers among the middle class, we haven't advanced as far we could (and should) considering how long we've lived as free people in this free country. We are losing ground to immigrants from cultures that encourage taking advantage of opportunities regardless of perceived prejudices. Too often, American blacks allow these perceptions to control their lives.
The problems plaguing black America began taking shape 40 years ago when liberal policies lured many into a lifestyle of poverty. Blacks now make up an abnormally large portion of the nation's underclass, which is typically suffers from violent crime, drug abuse, unemployment, government dependency and illegitimacy. By painting America as racist and oppressive, liberals - both black and white - have convinced too many for too long that their destiny is in someone else's hands.
Underclass pathologies have been studied by people as diverse as the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who predicted the rise of the underclass in his 1965 book The Negro Family: The Case For National Action) to black college professor John McWhorter (who says underclass pathologies are now cultural). Commenting on this entitlement mentality in his book Job Loss Didn't Make the Underclass, Professor McWhorter writes: "This resentment-based ideology has dissuaded legions of blacks from seeking the American Dream out of the wrongheaded belief that the country is too racist and morally corrupt for them to embrace it."
As the government virtually subsidized unwed pregnancies in the 1960s, the black family collapsed. The common sense solution would be to reform the system that caused the decay, but black liberals like Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) continue to resist. In 1994, she spoke out against welfare reform that was even embraced by President Bill Clinton, calling it a "mean-spirited Republican" bill. It passed despite her complaints, and welfare caseloads have reduced by 54 percent since 1996.
This policy helped get black Americans earning incomes, but it remains unpopular with black liberal politicians. This criticism is passed onto their constituents, where many of them lap up this pablum without checking things for themselves.
This seemingly knee-jerk opposition hurts the communities our black leaders are charged with serving. For example, opposition to President George Bush's Social Security reform proposal is not unexpected, but it is misguided. On average, blacks have lower life expectancies than whites, which means we pay more into the system than we will ever get out of it. Personal accounts would allow us to build wealth and give it to families should we die an untimely death. This does not happen under the current system. The money now simply goes back to the government.
But Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus remain firmly against the Bush Social Security reforms. One reason is because they say blacks get that money back in government assistance - thus perpetuating (and promoting!) our reliance on handouts.
I firmly believe conservatism is better for the black community. It's my opinion that the only way to reverse the destructive path black America is on is to become politically active. But don't take my word for it. Don't just take the word of politicians and community leaders as gold either.
Read. Learn. Form your own opinions. Act on them.
We must take control of our own destiny. We must chart a course for success instead of failure, personal responsibility instead of entitlement and integrity instead of moral bankruptcy.
Future generations are depending on our actions today.
Don Scoggins is a member of the National Advisory Board of the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research.
Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries
reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those
of Project 21.
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