As difficult as blacks had it during the days of segregation, a distinctly black culture developed, even in the prevalence of racist attitudes and restrictive laws. We forget, or have never been told, that Washington, D.C., from 1920 to 1960, “was a financial, spiritual, and cultural stronghold. Because Washington was a segregated city, blacks simply created their own metropolis. . . . The first black bank, the Industrial Savings Bank, was started here.” While “the black population of New York’s Harlem inherited many of its buildings from previous white owners, . . . many of the buildings in Shaw were paid for by black businessmen and built by black hands.”1
Families were intact, the divorce and unwed mother rates were no different from that of white communities.
Take a look photographs of the 1963 March on Washington led by Martin Luther King, Jr. Notice how everyone is dressed. Most of the men are wearing suits and ties. Many of the women are wearing hats, as are the men. There is a dignity about the crowd.
Blacks are not helped by the continued claim that all problems for them are racial. Some are, but most aren’t. Black on black crime is not the fault of white people. Sky-high out-of-wedlock births are not the fault of whites. High dropout rates among blacks are not the fault of whites. The solution is not to cry “racism” and blame everything on whites or hundreds of years of oppression. Blacks won’t find their problems solved by appealing to the State.
Welfare programs have done a lot to keep black families down by subsidizing family fragmentation and fostering multi-generational dependency. Black problems aren’t solved by naming streets after Martin Luther King, Jr. The same can be said for the King Holiday and Black History Month. These are liberal crumbs to appease the black community, but have any of these actions helped blacks? Guilt-ridden whites vote for the advocates of government dependency, and anyone who does not will be labeled, you guessed it, a “racist.”
Subsidies have led to the immobility of the poor, the breakup of the black family, and dependency on government programs. There is little incentive to leave the area, since the risks are seen as being too great. Star Parker, once trapped in the welfare cycle, writes:
Thirty-five years of Great Society social engineering have forced the disadvantaged to live under the control of the federal government. Politicians control their housing, food supply, schooling, wages, and transportation. A centralized government makes decisions about their childcare, healthcare, and retirement.2
This is not to say that blacks should imitate “white culture.” There is nothing inherently good in being white. Whites have similar pathologies. We’re all sinners. There is no inherently good black culture. Black is not always beautiful, and, of course, the same can be said for white culture, however it is defined. There’s a great deal of good in both cultures.
Some blacks will say that I don’t know what it’s like growing up black. There is no doubt about it; I don’t know what it’s like, and I never will. But my lack of black perspective doesn’t change what is going on in some black communities. I can’t change what I’m not, but I am responsible to change what I am.
There is no one to blame but me. The sooner I realized this, the sooner I took responsibility for my failings. The hardest thing for anyone to do is look in the mirror and see your reflection — warts and all. You can’t fix what you don’t want to admit is broken.