Dennis Campbell
March 20, 2008
The lesson of Asian Americans for blacks: there are more important things than basketball and victimhood
By Dennis Campbell

In 1992, after African Americans in Los Angeles set fires damaging 3,100 businesses, killing 53 and causing a billion dollars in damage during the Rodney King Riots, Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters had a press conference where she screeched her usual tedious and tired rhetoric basically holding white America responsible for black social and economic failures.

Then someone asked her about the Korean community's tradition of family members pooling their resources to help one another. She said something to the effect of, "Well, that's something to think about."

No doubt she did for the microsecond it took her to forget about it.

What's the point? That perhaps it's time African Americans quit obsessing over past injustices and pay attention to what Asians have done with their opportunities in America. We have African Americans in the highest levels of government, for Pete's sake, not to mention corporate CEOs, governors, members of Congress and an abundance of millionaires.

So, quit complaining and start doing.

I have long admired Asian Americans. They comprise about 12% of the population in California, but make up a mind-boggling 42% of the student population of the elite University of California system.

Is it because they are naturally more intelligent? I don't know. But what is clear is that they have a cultural commitment to academic excellence unmatched by any other demographic in America.

That commitment was neatly summed up by a dentist I had. As he worked on my teeth, he talked about his family. He was one of seven siblings, each one a professional.

"We had no choice," he said. "We were Chinese."

In other words, his parents demanded and received a commitment from their children to be academically successful, which translated into post-academic success.

My brother, an educator for 40 years in a large Southern California school system, witnessed firsthand that commitment as he watched Asian students sacrifice hearty partying and extra-curricular activities for a single-minded focus on academics.

That was more than two decades ago, and the reaction by the UC system to Asian classroom prowess was to suggest a quota be established. Unlike quotas that mandate a certain number of African Americans be granted admittance whether qualified or not, this quota would have capped the percentage of Asians at around 14%.

So much for liberal racial tolerance. The predictable derision quickly caused that idea to be tossed into the intellectual scrapheap where it belonged.

Let's return to the Korean tradition of gae, using pooled resources to help family members. The concept is simple: Individuals in an extended family put what money they can into the pot, and when someone wants to buy or start a business he receives an interest-free loan.

The work ethic of Koreans equals the Asian commitment to academics. Typically, they buy an unglamorous business with the potential to make money, such as a laundry or grocery, and everyone Mom and Dad, sisters and brothers works to make it successful.

What has been the African American reaction to Korean success? In 1991, in Brooklyn, NY, Democrat race baiter Al Sharpton led a boycott of Korean grocers. When the Rodney King Riots ignited the following year, more than 1,800 Korean American businesses were torched.

If you aren't willing to join 'em, burn 'em out.

It would be nice to hear Barack Obama acknowledge that the failures of the African American community are not so much the result of white racism, but of an absolute indifference by so many black families all too often, these days, consisting of a mother, a passel of kids and no father(s) anywhere in sight to academic achievement, respect for the law and traditional morality.

All those virtues were a part of the black community 40 years ago, before President Lyndon B. Johnson's not-so-Great Society made it more profitable for black women to have oodles of babies and live on welfare than to get married and settle into a normal, productive life.

It would be nice to hear Obama renounce the liberal opposition to choice in education for inner-city black kids ill-served by a train wreck of a public education system and come out in favor of some sort of voucher system to get those who desire academic success out.

It would be nice to hear him urge African Americans to focus on the opportunities they have in America opposed to, for example, in Africa and not victimhood.

It also would be nice to hear Fidel Castro admit to his tyranny. Sadly, both are equally likely to happen.

© Dennis Campbell


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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