President Biden has pledged to “help narrow the racial wealth gap and reinvest in communities that have been left behind by failed policies.” He used the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre in Greenwood, a thriving African-American community ravaged by a racist mob in 1921, as the occasion to promise more federal contracts for minority-owned companies and address discrimination in home appraisals for Black families.
The Tulsa mob murdered more than 300 Black men, women and children over a two-day period, May 31 to June 1, forcing thousands to flee for their lives while watching their homes and businesses burn to the ground. No one was ever held responsible for the devastation.
But Mr. Biden’s Tulsa appearance and speech continues a narrative favored by Democrats that reinforces the wrong belief that African Americans can do nothing without government. Of course, if government were their savior, would it not have solved all the problems Democrats continually talk about, but do little to fix?
Democrats want to keep reminding us how bad race relations have been historically and how bad they are now, but even Democrats must admit we’ve made significant progress. I offer just a few statements from accomplished African Americans who faced crippling discrimination and racism in their day but still became successful. These motivational words point us in the direction we need to go and could move many from a dependence on government to lives of self-sufficiency.
If Ken Burns were presenting these statements as one of his great documentaries, it might start with a picture followed by these quotes:
“If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” Marcus Garvey (a Black nationalist and leader of the Pan-Africanism movement, which sought to unify and connect people of African descent worldwide).
A case could be made for school choice for low-income students denied a good education in failing inner-city schools: “The purpose of education is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions.” (James Baldwin, writer).
Speaking of the need for school choice, here’s one from Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
On giving up because one believes there is no way out of one’s circumstances: “We may (en)counter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” (Maya Angelou)
“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” (Madam C.J. Walker, an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist and social activist).
Need more? Here’s one from Rosa Parks: “Each person must live their life as a model for others.”
This one seems absent from all American culture today, regardless of one’s race: “We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.” (Jesse Owens, Olympic runner)
Why do we rarely hear such thoughts expressed by especially Democrats and even Republicans when speaking to and about African Americans? Why aren’t the successful used as role models instead of the constant focus on the unsuccessful?
The narrative should be: This is how we became successful, and this is how you can be successful too. Changing the narrative offers potentially better outcomes than the one presently being promoted by liberal politicians.
• Cal Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, is the author of “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires, Superpowers and the United States” (Harper Collins/Zondervan, January 2020).
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