The word “freedom” for many black Americans is inextricably linked with the word “slavery.” While it has been 148 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, and 47 years since the landmark Civil Rights Act, for many, the words of Martin Luther King in his famous speech still ring true: “The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” Many black Americans still find themselves spiritually and economically enslaved on the figurative 21st-century plantation.
Why is that still so? After all, for the last 47 years, our leaders have passed bill after bill ostensibly to free black Americans from the manacles of poverty and provide ever-stronger safety nets for those disadvantaged.
But two very formidable forces have conspired over these last 47 years — almost the span of my entire life–to shackle the economic freedoms and aspirations of the black community: liberal progressive policies, generally supported by Democrats, and the socialist ideology espoused by prominent blacks such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
It is always curious to me that black Americans typically vote Democrat, when it was a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and a Republican from Ohio, Representative James Mitchell Ashley, who brought forth the bill to support an amendment to end slavery throughout the United States.
Nearly 100 years later, when the initial Civil Rights Bill came before the full Senate in 1964, it was a group of 18 Southern Democrats who argued most fervently against its passage.
While the Civil Rights Act passed, finally ending the reprehensible practices of segregation, the liberal progressive policies passed during these last nearly five decades have perhaps done more damage to black Americans’ prospects than the racial policies of the past. Unemployment in the black community stands at 16.7 percent, food stamp enrollment is up, and nearly three-quarters of all black children do not live with their biological fathers.
Welfare policies devised by the left to aid single mothers have instead worked perversely to incentivize more young women to have children out of wedlock.
High minimum wages advocated by labor unions– from whom Democrats receive tremendous financial support — mean employers are less apt to hire unskilled black youths, or any youths for that matter.
For the left, “spending on education” generally means job protection and preserving benefits for teachers, rather than actually improving education for students in public schools, where black students can build a foundation for economic advancement.
But the effects of these so-called well-intentioned policies, while damaging, are certainly not as toxic as the socialist orientation and noxious rhetoric of “leaders” such as Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Words do indeed have meaning, and the defeatist and demoralizing screeds of these prominent speakers do not inspire, but instead reinforce the victim mentality, and generate class hatred and jealousy — further cultivated by our own President Barack Obama.
Since the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s founding in 1909, socialism has been, unfortunately, deeply ingrained in the black community. In fact, NAACP founder W. E. B. DuBois received the 1959 “Lenin Peace Prize” and formally joined the Communist Party USA two years later.
One of the primary tenets of socialist ideology is the creation of a welfare state, which is precisely what has happened in the black community. It is, in effect, a virtual plantation, where black Americans remain enslaved to damaging economic policies and poisonous attitudes of the rhetorical “overseers” who continue to reinforce exploitive, negative mindsets.
The only way for black Americans — and all Americans for that matter — to enjoy the full fruits of economic freedom is by once again embracing the spirit of individualism and self-determination laid out in our Constitution and exemplified by true black leaders such as Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. It is only by abandoning the damaging liberal progressive policies and throwing off the shackles of the victim mentality can black Americans finally be “free at last.”