Letter to the Editor

Why is the African-American community in such poor shape economically, socially and politically? According to Mr. Jackson, African-Americans are too quick to blame the white community as a scapegoat for their troubles.
The real problem facing African Americans is not the wage gap, racial profiling, discrimination or economic inequity and a lack of commercial development in urban areas; it is the lack of internal leadership within the community and misdirected anger. They shouldn’t be mad at white people; they should be mad at themselves for not getting their act together sooner and rising up against the likes of Jessie Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton and other black leaders who receive the blind support of the black community.
They’ve been bamboozled out of a better future by three or four self-serving ‘leaders.’ Mr. Jackson’s position is a rather convenient argument that avoids any collective responsibility on the part of white America over the problems in African-American society.
African Americans have had to struggle for every inch of their freedom since the Emancipation Proclamation gave them a glimpse of what Jim Crow laws and segregation denied them for another hundred years.
Mr. Jackson would have you believe that white people did as much as they could for the African-American community in the 1960s with the Civil Rights Act. Now the ball is in their court.
Does Mr. Jackson think the reason we haven’t had a black president is because the millions of African-Americans simply lack good leadership? There are many educated and ambitious African-Americans that have come to the public spotlight over the last 240 years and they are rarely considered for positions of real power over white people and society as a whole.
When African-Americans do reach real power, it’s often because they refuse to challenge the system which perpetuates the poverty within the black community.
Colin Powell, for example, reaffirms that the system works rather than challenging it. He poses no threat to traditional sources of power. Contrary to Mr. Jackson’s statement that African-Americans ‘do not have to work as hard to get the same job as the rest of America,’ African-Americans are much poorer per capita than white Americans and that is because they do not get the good jobs and they do not get paid as well for them. Perhaps it is that no good leaders told African-Americans to stop playing basketball and start studying.
In a society that tells African-Americans that their only ticket out of the inner city and poverty is sports or entertainment, we will see fewer black doctors because less time is spent on education and more on the only real opportunity these young students have: sports and entertainment.
Indeed, most African-American role models are not president’s, CEOs or other prominent black figures, but athletes and entertainers. It is a cycle, not a coincidence. There is a reason white people don’t think of their culture as having ‘white leaders’: They are the majority and don’t need ‘leadership’ to succeed as a race. And why would they? White babies don’t need to grow up wondering if race is an issue because ultimately there is a lower barrier for success for white males. An African-American must consider their race in addition to other factors that will determine their future success. This isn’t because of leadership that fails to prepare them in some educational or philosophical manner, but because our society has a system of rewards and punishments based on race.
In the real world, there are people with power and there are those who lack it. Only white America can do the most productive parts of improving race relations because it is they who have all the power.
If Mr. Jackson wants to improve the plight of the black community, he should volunteer, donate and seek to express his desire for the social advancement of the black community through his own life.
Telling African-Americans to simply get a grip and improve themselves is not only cold hearted, but unproductive.

Steven Guess
economics and history