African Americans: Racial Issues in America

African Americans Racial Issues in AmericaThe single biggest problem we face as a society is achieving the total integration of African Americans into the mainstream culture. While the conflict between African Americans and the national system has been exacerbated in the previous administration, it has become clear that there is a pent-up rage in the black community that has been going on for generations, and it needs to be attended to—soon. There is no question that the white majority has caused this situation, beginning with the introduction of slavery in 1619 and continuing after the “liberation” in 1865, followed by more than one hundred years of legal segregation in the South, and ending with our collective refusal to deal with the continued consequences of that history. It is also true that the federal government can offer only Band-Aids in the form of money, food stamps (the same thing), and such in-kind contributions as project-style housing. We need to do more in the communities and in the homes, individually as well as collectively.

By and large, segregation is dead. Increasingly, in the younger generation of white America, the color of one’s skin is seen as a physical quality, whereas previous generations regarded blackness as the mark of Cain, and thus, a sign of moral or intellectual inferiority. Interracial marriages are legion and no longer regarded as taboo. The United States has elected an interracial president.

But there is a darker side to this progress. Crime rates in the black and Latino communities continue to spiral out of control. Three-fourths of African American babies are born to single mothers, and this situation propagates generations of poverty and ignorance. Head Start and other preschool programs seem to have only a temporary effect on academic performance. And African Americans and first-generation Latinos tend to be relegated to bad schools, which are bad in part because their constituency is actively hostile toward education, but mainly because they are poorly funded, poorly staffed, and do little to ameliorate community dysfunction.

Even our president is negatively influenced by the awful situation in minority communities. His socialist-lite progressivism has been steered by a whole group of intellectuals, many of them black, who wish to fix the inequality between black and white through spreading wealth around, and through big government programs, believing that only through government can these problems be solved. This is because traditional Democratic Party policies have been seen as friendly to minorities, especially African Americans.

Solving problems through more government policy is not possible, however. Government intervention will only lead to the restriction of freedoms and the impoverishment of all.  A person’s social status cannot be changed by fiat, and it cannot be changed overnight. This has been true in the administration’s involvement in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and Baltimore, and its lack of support for the police when it comes to conflict with the community. Such policies have tended to further polarize a bad situation.

That does not mean that we as a society cannot do a better job of ameliorating these conditions.  One step in that direction would be the extension and expansion of affirmative action in jobs, in colleges, and in other institutions of society. Quota systems should also be allowed, and every attempt should be made to prepare African Americans for college programs and for careers, including the unionized skilled trades. Although we have been living with affirmative action for nearly two generations, we have four hundred years of exploitation to account for; and unless we work still harder, we cannot make the system work for all citizens.

Although my soul rebels at the idea that some otherwise well-qualified person may be denied an opportunity that he or she would otherwise have received, I am more persuaded by what is really a very conservative idea: any society where any identifiable social or ethnic group is not equally represented at all layers of wealth and prestige is a society that is bound to fail. If you believe in traditional values, self-interest should grant this much at the least.

I have a number of other ideas of ways to deal with America’s racial issues, some of which are contained in my book, The Solution.

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