It is well documented that such beliefs for centuries have been one way or another promulgated by political and governmental leaders, religious institutions, educational institutions at all levels, health care institutions, pseudo-science, our systems of law and justice, economic theorists and, well, you name it.
As a tiny example, the immensely popular radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh recently implied that President Barack Obama didn’t know the difference between the word “Vatica” and “vacation.” The implication is that no matter what degrees he holds or what his standing, our president is just plain dumb. Really, Rush? If you don’t like Obama or his policies, that’s your right. But to say the man is dumb is, well, dumb.
As to pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, all things considered, African Americans have done a pretty good job at that. For the masses of black folk, I see the problem differently. It’s not about pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. It’s about millions of black children being cut off at the knees before they reach third grade. This we know. And this we ignore.
If you think this is some sort of journalistic “pity party” for African Americans, I urge you to think again. I believe we already know the solution to most of the problems. The stumbling block is that we, as a nation, refuse to go where the problem is with the resources and strategies needed to address what educator Jonathan Kozol calls “Savage Inequalities.” In this, I very much agree with that THB editorial mentioned earlier. It was titled, “Racial disparity still rears its ugly head.”
I say amen to that. And, yes, the focus should be on black children. But in order to deal with the children, you have to deal with their parents. In order to deal with the parents, you have to deal with black communities as a whole. As one very wise community organizer once told me, “you can’t teach what you don’t know, and you can’t lead where you won’t go.”