Racism, Cowardice and Responsibility

Cowardice has been variously described over the years. When asked for a definition Microsoft Word provided several, including one from Wikipedia that seems to cover all the bases:

Cowardice is a trait wherein fear and excess self-concern override doing or saying what is right, good and of help to others or oneself in a time of need – it is the opposite of courage.

Note in the above definition indicates that cowardice overrides doing what is good or right; which is exactly what has been going on in America for decades. As one who grew up during the Civil Rights Movement years, I saw what happened all around me.

We can start with the 1950’s wherein Jim Crow still ruled much of the South, and needed to be removed. But at the time, Black Americans had advantages that they do not have today. Their families stayed together. They believed in hard work and doing your best at everything. They valued education. Brig. Gen. Ezell Ware, Jr., wrote in his autobiography, By Duty Bound, that during his youth his parents and his teachers, at a segregated school, stressed the need to outperform Whites in order to succeed. He did exactly that. Today, that work and education ethic is no longer emphasized. 1

This writer distinctly recalls in Jr. High and High School the few Black students who took studying seriously. The others, the majority, saw little purpose in applying themselves. They had no interest in becoming another Dr. Ben Carson. Today we see such people in gangs, regularly in trouble with the law, and uneducated, except in how to survive on the street. To these people traditional work is a foreign concept.

When one of these poorly educated and non-work oriented people ends up on the wrong side of a law enforcement incident the popular mantra echoes one heard many times, all those years ago; “I didn’t do nothin.” Aside from the double negative, the person making such a statement was generally caught red handed, and was falsely claiming innocence. When the individual is no longer able to make the claim for himself the community chimes in for him. Trayvon Martin was just an ordinary guy who was out taking a walk to the store. Michael Brown was a “gentle giant.” And so the case is made for “institutionalized racism” as the cause of the events in question.

Yes, there is “institutionalized racism” but the institutions involved are places such as the current US Dept. of Justice under Eric Holder. They are the organizations run by such people as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They are groups that exist to continue the rhetoric that blames everyone but the people actually responsible for the problems we are experiencing today.

If Jim Crow and segregation were eliminated in the South, purely on the basis that they created a population of second class citizens, and the people liberated from it went on to show their abilities, just like everyone else, today would be different. But between government attempts to subsidize people financially, educationally and otherwise, the granting of special privileges and the institutionalization of the grievance and dependency cultures, American shot herself in both feet. Worse still, the Jacksons, Sharptons and Holders took advantage of the situation to empower themselves and keep the people they were supposedly helping, down. They used these people as platforms, stepping on their backs to gain power. And the people being stepped on were and are unable to recognize it.

Applying this to Ferguson, Missouri, we see an 18 year old, who may have made it out of high school, but was obviously into the wrong side of things. The autopsy showed he had marijuana in his system. He had just committed, according to video camera evidence, a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store. The chances are that he had done it previously, but had not yet been caught. Further, if he had been walking on the sidewalk instead of the center of the street, he would not have attracted police attention. Finally, there is was the guy who accompanied him at the time, who also, purportedly had a criminal record. Brown was no dewy eyed innocent.

But if he had taken a different course in life; if he had pursued scholarship instead of gang culture, things would certainly have turned out differently. He would not have been where he was, and would not have done what he did. His life would not have been ended.

As a number of people, well placed to make such judgments; Ben Carson, Walter E. Williams, Larry Elder, and so on, would say, the matter is one of individual choice and responsibility. It isn’t a question of “white privilege” or of “institutionalized racism” that is the problem. It is the people who make choices to move their lives in a negative direction and take on a “gangsta” approach because they listen to the wrong radio stations, the wrong music, and idolize people who have made money off of it, but are a tiny minority, exploiting impressionable young folks who don’t know better than to follow a path to a dangerous future.

Alternatively, some people simply cash into the government dependency culture and do nothing to better themselves. They simply have no interest in or will to succeed.

We see other people such as Bill Cosby speaking the truth for which they are crucified for failing to follow a “party line.” The cowards who do this don’t want to see the Black American succeed. They want then to continue as victims; not of Whites, but of other, well placed Blacks; victims of the Jesse Jacksons, Eric Holders and Barack Obamas. These are people who become highly placed or influential, but claim that everyone else is held back by the attitude of the American people.

In truth, the average American doesn’t care a fig about skin color. What they care about was what Dr. King cared about and spoke about; the content of character. But content of character, in the positive sense, requires responsibility and accountability. It requires hard work and dedication to ideals. It does not have time for gangsta-ism, pants falling down around your knees and street language. It requires conformity to an ideal, that society has accepted, as a means to a better future. It is not a path for cowards, but for people who are willing to accept challenges, from themselves, from their colleagues and from the world at large. It means casting off the the blame game and excuses, and taking responsibility for yourself and your actions.

The Eric Holders want Black Americans to accept the idea that they have no control over their lives because doing so empowers the political class. That is why they are cowards. They don’t want to survive on their own merits; they want to do it on the backs of the people they oppress; the same people they pretend to care about. It is a coward’s and a despot’s approach to success; one that we should have outgrown, but didn’t because we relied on government to right wrongs that we should have allowed the communities to correct as a matter of individual responsibility.

1 The author met Gen. Ware several times before his untimely death of cancer. He was a cultured, articulate gentleman who deserved every success he achieved, and perhaps more.

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