WRITTEN BY BERNIE LONG –
I recently heard an interview of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the great American basketball player and star. He described systemic racism – it is everywhere we just don’t see it. He used the analogy that when you look around you see no dust or particles in the air, however, when the light shines in the right way you can see all kinds of particles in the air. He went on; systemic racism is like the air we breathe and all white people are part of it. The Reverend Al Sharpton spoke about the tragic death of George Floyd stating that Floyd’s death is symbolic of what has happened to black people in this country for 400 years. White people have had their knee on black people’s necks preventing them from flourishing.
Wow so sad and depressing.
Here are some thoughts from an old white guy.
White privilege– I really had very little contact with African Americans growing up. I grew up in the 50 and 60s. I am a baby boomer. When my father returned from the WW ll he married my mother. At that time they had little money. They lived with my Grandmother and my mother’s sister. I was the second child, so after I was born they moved into their own home. It was a modest twin house but as my mother would say – it was their own. We certainly were never wealthy by any means but we were never hungry and my mother and father had a stable marriage and they valued family very much and were always there for my sister and me. When I came home from school my mother was there and when my father came home from work we had “supper”. My sister and I went to Catholic School and every Sunday we went to Mass. My parents provided discipline and love.
I have come to realize that what I experienced as a child is an example of white privilege. Today far too many African American children are born out of wedlock (70%). Lots of these poor children do not have stable family environments. I have several teacher friends who have told me on parents/ teacher nights in many intra city schools often very few parents attend. I think that white people like me should think about growing up without parental guidance and discipline. I shudder to think how I would have done in similar circumstances.
I believe government programs should focus on helping these children get a fair start in life. We should support programs that help poor children in early education and counseling programs; not free college and not student loan forgiveness. We should concentrate on helping young poor kids to get a stable start in life and to value education.
Systemic racism – I firmly believe we are all made in God’s image and likeness and our Creator clearly does not care about the color of our skin. He wants us to love one another as he loves us all. Thomas Jefferson was right – All men (and women) are created equal. The United States clearly has a history of bigotry and racism. We hear a lot about that sad history and I think we should never forget it. But I also think it is fair to say that great progress has been made. After all, we just had an African American president for eight years. He did not get there without wide spread support from white Americans. Yet it is undeniable African Americans still lag in many important economic categories.
I believe comments like those of Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Al Sharpton fail to recognize the tremendous efforts that have been made to confront poverty and racism. Use the voice command on Google and ask the question, how much has been spent on the war on poverty? You will hear that 15 trillion dollars has been spent on the War on Poverty; 15 trillion dollars! It started with the Johnson administration of the 60’s. You will also hear that the poverty rates today are about the same as in the 60’s. Wow, that says a lot about the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. So what is missing?
The war on poverty at best has been well intentioned but a failure. Keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result is insanity. I believe that liberal Democrats have failed miserably in their attempts to solve income inequality. In fact, I believe their programs are part of the problem. Many liberals embrace the term “systemic racism”. Systemic racism is a nebulous term that often results in the feeling of anger, outrage and helplessness. Liberal democrats have been in charge of all our major cities for many many years and can anyone really conclude that they have succeeded in any meaningful way?
I am not arrogant enough to say I have all the answers. I also know the next statements I am going to make will not be received well in liberal circles. In fact, I would likely be called a hater and a racist but I believe this to be the truth.
Some, if not many African Americans, for example could stop blaming everybody else and take some (certainly not all) personal responsibility for their plight. Many should stop seeing themselves as perpetual victims. Yes, sadly they have it harder than white people and it is not always fair, but they can and have succeeded. The government can and should provide help with early education and job training but African Americans themselves can change some things about their culture. They could start by getting married before they have children. They could promote marriage, family and life and the importance of having children only within the context of a valid and solid marriage. All Black men and all men need to step up and be responsible fathers. Jobs, fostered by job training would be a big help with that. Let’s Stop aborting black babies and all babies. Those lives matter too. African Americans represent 13% of the population and yet they have 38% of the nation’s abortions. If you want more black power, you can increase your numbers by doing this. African American leaders could encourage a culture that values reading and education. While police reforms are clearly necessary, blaming the police for all African American woes is a mistake. The nonsensical talk of abolishing the police force does not help; It will actually make things worse. It will drive away employers, increase crime on the most vulnerable and in turn increase unemployment. We all must truthfully recognize that Black Lives Matter needs to include black on black crime and the alarming high African American abortion rate.
What loving responsible parent would tell their child that they cannot succeed? Martin Luther King had it right – “we shall overcome”. Racism is unfair and the government can and should help but African Americans themselves must know they can succeed in this country on their own. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are many American African success stories starting with the dawn of our country and I encourage all of us to start hi-lighting these great Americans who were black who helped make America great and let’s follow in their footsteps to make America peaceful, proud and prosperous for all, especially all black lives!
Bernie Long – Catholic man, speaker, evangelizer and blogger who is also co-host of Pro Life America Radio