by Patricia L. Dickson 10/2/14
I have received pushback from black Intellectual liberals for suggesting that poverty in the black community is the result of culture rather than racism. They contend that I am out of touch with the black community on issues affecting the poor. They say that my message of education, responsibility and hard work ignores the existence of structural racism, racial profiling, Stop & Frisk, 400 years of chattel slavery, 100 years of legal discrimination, 50 years of 2nd class citizenship, the Crack Epidemic, the War on Drugs. All of which supposedly continue to have a negative effect on black Americans and are barriers that preclude the poor inner city blacks from succeeding.
First, no one believes that there is no more racism. As long as human beings walk the earth, there will be someone (regardless of his or her race) that will harbor racism in his or her heart. The debate is not whether or not racism still exist. Instead it should be does racism prevent black Americans in 2014 from succeeding? That should be the main point when discussing racism in America. If any black intellectual claims that it does, he or she should be ready to explain how they themselves managed to succeed with structural racism in place. It is wrong and unfair for any successful black American to sit in his or her cushy office and write articles decrying the effects of structural racism on poor black Americans without offering a roadmap of how he or she managed to get around it if our goal is truly to help our fellow black Americans.
We should be discussing triumph over real racism by encouraging poor black Americans with inspiring stories of our ancestors. Successful black individuals such as:
- Elijah McCoy – invented a lubricator for steam engines and was issued a U.S. patent in 1872 (just a few years after slavery was abolished).
- Granville T. Woods – In 1887 patented the synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph, which made it possible for trains to communicate with the station and with other trains so they knew exactly where they were at all times.
- Frederick Douglass – former slave and eminent human rights leader in the abolition movement, was the first black citizen to hold a high U.S. government rank.
- Madam C.J. Walker – the first child in her family born into freedom (1867) after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. By the time of her death in 1919, Madam Walker was the wealthiest black woman in America and the first self-made female American millionaire.
These individuals, along with many other blacks during that era, endured the worst of racism. They were spat on, cursed, beaten, called nigger, and denied opportunities, yet they accomplished more than I have today (2014). If someone claims that there is more racism today than in the 1800s, then he or she is definitely smoking something. When I think of all they went through and yet were more successful than I am, I would be ashamed to consider blaming racism on my failures.
The poor blacks in the inner cities are no different from the black intellectuals or me. In fact, some of them are probably smarter than I am. All they need is some kind of formal education or job training to acquire skills so that they can pull themselves and their families out of poverty. They also need to be encouraged to reach their potential instead of being told by wealthy black race baiters in suits that the deck is stacked against them.
Patricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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