I’m Not Buyin’ It…
I’m not buying that Barack Obama has suddenly shed an uncommon and unprecedented light on the discussion of race in America. And I’m not buying that the racial views of Jeremiah Wright and others are at all justifiable.
On Thursday an article came out at AmericanThinker.com called “Obama’s Anger“. The whole article is worth reading. The author, Ed Kaitz spent quite a bit of time with the Vietnamese immigrants in New Orleans. He talks about how they came over after the war with no money, no friends, and no knowledge of English. They faced “a mostly unfriendly and suspicious local population:
They did however have strong families, a strong work ethic, and the “Audacity of Hope.” Within a generation, with little or no knowledge of English, the Vietnamese had achieved dominance in the fishing industry there and their children were already achieving the top SAT scores in the state.
He then recounts his conversation with a black prison psychologist he met on a plane:
asked him point blank why these Vietnamese refugees, with no money, friends, or knowledge of the language could be, within a generation, so successful. I also asked him why it was so difficult to convince young black men to abandon the streets and take advantage of the same kinds of opportunities that the Vietnamese had recently embraced.
His answer, only a few words, not only floored me but became sort of a razor that has allowed me ever since to slice through all of the rhetoric regarding race relations that Democrats shovel our way during election season:
“We’re owed and they aren’t.”
In short, he concluded, “they’re hungry and we think we’re owed. It’s crushing us, and as long as we think we’re owed we’re going nowhere.”
There, in a nutshell is what is going on with this conversation of race issues. These members of the black community don’t feel like they’ve been handed enough. It frankly ticks me off. My parents were both born in the mid-40’s. They both reached adulthood before the Civil Rights Act. My father grew up poor, but made it to the University of Pittsburgh. He graduated in 1966, and went on to work for IBM and AT&T. My mom took an internship with IBM as a sophomore and worked there until the mid-nineties, when she took a job with HP.
They had nothing handed to them, but I never heard them complain about discrimination. They taught me that I could do what I wanted if I worked at it, and that has proven to be true. They said I would experience discrimination, that it was a part of life, and that I was going to have to – to put it bluntly – get over it. That also proved to be true. The discrimination wasn’t nearly as bad as they said it would be, but the advice was good.
One thing that I think contributed to my success is that they kept me away from this type of anger, resentment, and attitude of entitlement. We lived in the suburbs all my life. I didn’t have anyone telling me that the “white establishment” or the government owed me anything. I had people telling me that no one owed me anything, but that I could earn everything.
And as a result of my upbringing I succeeded. Of course, I’ve been repeatedly told that I act “white”. Coming from black people it’s nuanced, but essentially it means that I don’t have the cred to be fully accepted as a member of the black community. I’m not connected. Something I’m sure Obama can identify with (in my opinion, that’s why he went to Trinity to begin with – to get the cred he was missing). But I wasn’t raised to be a part of the black community. I was raised to be part of our local community. I wasn’t raised to be a black American, I was raised to be an American.
When my parents did talk about racism and discrimination it usually came back to Martin Luther King, Jr. And he said something that seems to have been forgotten by whites and blacks: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
As I think about my life to date, I have lived, except for small pockets of my life (my high school basketball team, a couple of groups of people I knew in high school, and maybe one or two others) I’ve lived in a colorless society. When we’re all willing to work hard and put race out of our minds, that becomes possible.