Saturday Morning Thoughts In The Nation
I've been thinking about white liberalism these days against the backdrop of the dismal state of urban education in America.
As much as I detest Al Sharpton, the pathetic state of Black-American leadership in New York City has given rise to popularity. We need informed gadlfys in the coffee and the buttermilk.
The most significant problem facing Black-American leadership are White liberals who act as if it is their birthright to set the agenda for Black-Americans. Black people need allies, to be sure, and the question remains openended: what kind of allies do we need?
White liberalism-can't Black leaders and intellectuals see this by now?-is predicated upon the perpetual patronization of Black-Americans. So long as Black-Americans play the game and be nice, white liberals will talk about equality and the like; but, under no circumstances do they intend for Black-Americans to have what they have economic parity. I remember when Reginald Lewis was touted as a financial genius. There has not been a single Black-American since Lewis died that has been "allowed" to play at the highest level of American finance like the "white boys" do. And without the power of Michael Milken, Lewis would not have been able to do it. I'm convinced that White liberals are not happy unless Black folks are having a "starving-to-death" or "near-starving-to-death experience."
The sad thing is that Black American leadership is essentially a leadership that is sitting around, like puppets without strings, waiting for permission to take bold aggressive measures based upon long-term thinking. Yet, a puppet without a string does not mean that a puppet is no longer a puppet. It simply means the puppet, like contemporary civil rights Black leadership, has evolved into a hand puppet.
New York City, in terms of the progress that Black Americans have made is, by far, the most racist and backwards place in America considering the considerable economic and human capital prevalent in he city.
When I was growing up, my mother made it a point to keep white folks out of our family's business. She had nothing against White folks and neither do I; but, she understood that White folks never had the interests of Black folks at heart and we can see this glaringly if we examine social policy as it relates to Black Americans in this country.
White liberals, in my view, should have had the political courage, for example, to lead welfare reform. Afterall, they set into motion social policy that they had to know from the outset would have horrible adverse effects on generations of poor Black Americans trying to get out of poverty. The question remains: if you truncate education and, in place of sound education policy, you replace it with social policy that destroys the work ethic and the pragmatic wisdom that Black folks used (on their own) to turn the sons and daughters of sharecroppers into doctors and engineers, what do you expect?
White folks have a lot of damn nerve to sign a bill that refers to "personal responsibility." They have been in power since the grand inception of this republic and have been irresponsible. No sane legislator should create social policy that impacts poor folks without first asking: is this what I would allow for my children and people living in my community?
Let me move on. The leadership of the NAACP is precisely what it is and will continue to be: a bunch of useless and subsidized Negroes with elegant begging bowls. If I were Bush (or any other American President), I would not pay a visit to these Negroes either. Afterall, Black folks have demonstrated their loyalty to the Democratic party (pre-tabulated votes) and the Republicans are not going to do a damn thing for Black folks either. The best thing Colin Powell can do is resign and act like he has some principal. People who matter are visited, as a matter of course, behind the scenes. That is the nature of serious politics. I remember Calvin Butts making the same remarks about Mario Cuomo. It is too bad that "Predictable Negro" stocks are not sold on the New York Stock Exchange. That would be a blue chip stock. Black folks are the most predictable folks in the world and white folks (with real power) realize this.
Imagine the NAACP, at this late stage in their political evolution, still engaging in "he loves me, he loves me not" politics with all of the pressing issues facing Black Americans! Furthermore, Professor Ronald Walters should be providing these insane Negroes with some degree of political direction, not wasting the paper required to report on their political ineptitude. It is damn shame and a tragedy.
Between the NAACP and the Urban League, we have more professional policy analysts than we can count and yet we lack bold leadership to implement policy and hold the feet of folks to fire. In fact, given the state of Black American, politicians should be wearing fire retardant suits; but, hell, who takes Black folks seriously? I mean, I have never seen more annual meetings and reports and conventions about the State of Black America. When I get on the bus and ride through (sometimes there are no seats, just rusty springs, on the bus) the poor Black community I live in, I don't see any presence of the NAACP or Urban League. None.
Hell, I went into a store this morning that was open for business and they didn't even have change! Black intellectuals are running around mouthing every philosophy under the sun-all of which is good; but, a substantial number of Black folks are still operating with pre-bow and arrow philosophies.
I read the following comment this morning by a white scholar I happen to respect. His name is Stephen Steinberg. He said, "We don't have abstract citizens. We have highly structured black communities, which are a product of-guess what? Centuries of discrimination. To deny that is to deny these communities meaningful representation."
We don't need to be victims for anyone; but, we cannot deny the brutal history of racism and its quantifiable effects either. This is why he reparations movement requires more long-term thinking.
One last thing: I am waiting to see if we will get the corporate equivalent of the Rockefeller Drug Laws as it relates to white male corporate criminals.