The death of George Floyd set off civil unrest unlike any we have seen in recent years. The protests have placed attention on harsh police tactics and the need for change. Americans were united in denouncing George Floyd's murder. Sadly, the resulting protest turned violent, and rioting and looting resulted.
While George Floyd was indeed a victim, the victimhood mentality stoked by a rabid progressive media and attention-seeking activists everywhere is doing untold damage to the black community. That millions of black Americans consider themselves as victims can only lead to tragedy for America and specifically for them as individuals. Those who think of themselves as victims feel they are no longer bound by the standard of society's moral codes. The more people who see themselves as victims, the more likely they are to commit crimes.
In his book False Black Power?, Jason Riley points out the victim-mindset has not always been a part of the black community. During slavery, through the first quarter of the twentieth century, the vast preponderance of black children was raised in two-parent households. Black marriages were as secure and enduring as the marriages of financially comparable whites. The reality was that single parenting was rare among blacks in earlier times. Blacks were prospering before the 1960s and did so despite systemic racism because they had healthy communities and families. Thus, contrary to progressive doctrine, blacks were not disadvantaged by structural racism of that time. Today, however, they are hindered by the erosion of the family and the resulting social decay.
In the decades before the 1960s, systemic barriers against blacks slowly began to fall. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it a federal crime to discriminate because of race. Shelby Steele points out in White Guilt that white liberals soon told the black community that collectively or individually, what was wrong with their lives was the fault of whites. White racism evolved into white guilt, where blacks were victims and were released from the responsibility of maintaining cultural norms.
Most clear-thinking people of all races reject this nonsense. However, many blacks soon blamed their disappointments and every bit of bad luck, and even criminal behavior as white people's fault. They didn't have to work hard, do well in school, get a job, get married, have children, stay married, or avoid crime. They were victims, and all they had to do was to pin their troubles on white people.
Since the 1960s, moreover, black academic weakness has been treated primarily as a problem of racial injustice. "Ebonics, multiculturalism, cultural "inclusive" classes, standardized tests corrected for racial bias, and so on," writes Steele, were often encouraged to their detriment instead of real achievement and academic excellence.
Many black leaders were preoccupied with developing excuses, which often centered on white injustice in one form or another. Steele continues, "The power to shame, silence and demand concessions from the larger society based on past victimization became the new black power." And over time, it evolved into what we now call "the race card."
Social justice agitators have long advanced the assertion that America is structurally racist. The time has come for guilt-ridden whites to get over themselves and stop being so intimidated by the left's coercion that all white Americans are beneficiaries of a nonexistent white privilege. The time has also come where all should acknowledge that blacks are no longer systematically oppressed in America. Acts of racism happen in America today but are not a systemic problem. They are outliers.
Those genuinely accountable for this nation's racist history, and those who suffered from it, have long since passed away. This nation has made significant advancements in civil rights over the past 60 years. Occasional racism by a few individuals out of a population of more than 300 million cannot be blamed on an entire society.
Social change is not always achieved through broad legislative reform. What must happen today is that each of us assesses our motivations and prejudices. It is a person by person change whereby the nation gradually changes itself on this issue. Such a shift is a hard but necessary process. And we must have the collective will to do so and promote interaction and unity between the races.
This step is where the Christian community should lead. The Church led in the Abolitionist and Civil Rights Movements in the past, and it can lead here. The story of the Good Samaritan provides a good illustration. A Jewish man was beaten by robbers, left on the side of the road to die, and ignored by other Jews. But he was eventually helped by a Samaritan, a man of a different race. Jesus instructs us to be like the Samaritan, helping others in times of need to "love our neighbors as ourselves." Washington cannot legislate such behavior. It is a matter of the heart, and this is where the Church excels.
Racism doesn't end with social media posts, protests, kneeling, chanting, or other virtue-signaling. It definitely does not end with rioting and looting. The real work of ending racism is much more private and hence more complicated. White Guilt must end and with it the dysfunction that leads to black victimhood. And the black community must see itself as citizens first, with a vested interest in their community and the nation, rather than seeing itself as victims. It is toward this goal of a unified colorblind society that all races must strive together to achieve.© Jeff Lukens
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