Is it politically incorrect to insist to that blacks must seek from within solutions to our dilemmas?
Too many blacks spend too much time railing at racism, and too little working to improve the lot of our people. Just as we helped build this entire nation, we have helped to build and perpetuate the poverty industry that exists in America. If blacks are to succeed, we must play a key role in
destroying that industry that uses handouts to control and shape so many lives in negative ways.
Black leadership should establish a deadline by which we agree that we will free ourselves of destructive handouts, which are largely offered to keep us in our place.
White people and their institutions are, of course, greatly responsible for many of the problems confronting blacks. But to believe earnestly - as too many African Americans do - that whites are largely responsible for our dilemma is to give them more authority over us than they actually have.
When we concede, in a thousand different ways, that we cannot perform equally in this society because of racism and oppression, we preclude the possibility of overcoming our problems.
Truth is, we play a significant role in keeping ourselves in chains. The system that helps control and corrupt us is not so powerful that we cannot
break free of it. While it is true that the system is indeed often against us, as many point out, a bigger problem is that we are not strongly enough for ourselves.
Too many blacks continue to drop out of school, participate in the use and sale of street drugs, engage in the self-hatred that is black-on-black crime and abandon newborns who have no chance from the time they first open their eyes. No honest African American will argue that there isn't an enormous need for many within the community to exercise greater respect for one another.
There is a great need to move beyond such slogans as "black is beautiful." If blacks believed that, we would, by now, refrain from
destroying each other with such predictable and monotonous regularity.
I know how damaging "the system" can be. But I also know that blacks themselves give strength to the system they so despise by breathing life into the stereotypes that persist about the nonwhite community.
When so many of us insist that we cannot make it in America, by not making it, we demonstrate that there may, indeed, be something inferior in us. And I am in no way "blaming the victim," as some will insist.
While the lives of millions of African Americans are marked by progress, many more millions could move ahead through greater commitment to self- improvement. Too many blacks have been so demoralized that they have given up the fight and are now complicit in their own demise.
A people who produced - against all odds - individuals such as Muhammad Ali, Marian Anderson, Mary McCloud Bethune, Frederick Douglass, Dizzy Gillespie, Judge Leon Higginbotham, Barbara Jordan, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Bernard Watson is, by any measure, successful.
Great progress toward freedom and equality was made during the tumultuous '60s and '70s. That period, perhaps more than any other in history, revealed what can be accomplished in spite of the system. But African Americans must accept more responsibility for positive changes within the community, instead of pointing fingers of blame outside it.
It's going to take blacks themselves to break the cycle of despair, which is the real enemy of the people. What is needed is the commitment, the determination and the desire to end our plight. Is it not yet clear that we should turn away from the path of self-destruction and turn toward the self- determination that Frederick Douglass envisoned long ago?
Douglass counseled us that we can influence our destiny. "If we find, we shall have to seek. If we succeed in the race of life it must be by our own energies, and our exertions . . . .
"If we remain poor and dependent, the riches of other men will not avail us. If we are ignorant, the intelligence of other men will do but little for us. If we are foolish, the wisdom of other men will not guide us. If we are wasteful of time and money, the economy of other men will only make our destitution the more disgraceful and hurtful."