The pithiest remark Glenn Loury made in his interview with Bari Weiss was this:
Black Lives Matter is almost completely irrelevant to what matters in black lives… Nothing that Black Lives Matter is about has any intersection with the things that actually matter in black lives.
Indeed. It’s been about 17 months since George Floyd was killed. Democrats hold majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House and a Democrat sits in the White House. By now, we must ask what steps they (or anyone else) are taking to narrow the black-white disparities that have been highlighted by so many and that make up so much of the news and commentary.
Yes, we see “BLM” painted on streets and walls, statues have been defaced or removed, many more black characters appear on television, particularly in ads, athletes sport bumper-sticker slogans on helmets and jerseys. A few school districts have restricted the disciplining of black students who misbehave, apparently on the theory that punishment stems, not from inappropriate student behavior, but from racism on the part of teachers. The police have been defunded in places like Austin and Minneapolis, and bail policies have been changed in New York City. And the police have been intimidated by protesters and politicians into backing away from their law enforcement duties. An almost unprecedented rise in violent crime and sharp cutbacks on police services like 911 calls have followed. The murder rate increased almost 30% in 2020 alone.
All of that raises a question that, given the violence and rhetoric following Floyd’s death, one would think would be urgent – what’s being done to reduce those black-white disparities? Stated another way, does anyone seriously believe that any of the above will actually improve black outcomes? Will giving a pass to black students who misbehave make them better students? Will police funding cutbacks make black criminals less likely to exploit and terrorize black neighborhoods? Will black incomes and savings miraculously rise? Loury’s remark is altogether on point, but it’s not just BLM that’s irrelevant to black people, it’s the rest of the woke Left as well. Their actions, their slogans are right in line with their ideology, but, as medicine to cure what ails race relations in the U.S., they’re pure snake oil and the doctor is a quack.
Loury lists four things that would actually make a difference:
I think self-determination and taking responsibility for our lives. I'd say education… And the public safety piece of this narrative, that the police are out to get black people, this contempt for law, the lawlessness of the George Floyd protests, the celebration of that lawlessness, the silence in the face of it. Patriotism. And by that I don't mean blind loyalty to a flag salute, I mean seeing yourself as an integral part of the American project. This is our country. We don't stand off from it. There is no United Nations where black claims will be negotiated.
In the same vein, I think it was Shelby Steele who once asked “Who is coming to the rescue?” That is, if black people don’t do for themselves, who’s going to do for them? There’s no one. In Loury’s words, “there is no United Nations where black claims will be negotiated.” The things we are doing - so in line with leftist ideology, so at odds with everyday reality – will fix nothing. So what’s left? The reality that blacks in this country today have a degree of freedom that’s not only vastly greater than ever, but sufficient for their own self-determination.
But that self-determination is nowhere to be found in our rhetoric on race. White guilt dominates the headlines and fairly screams from the doings and sayings of corporate America. White guilt means white power and its partner in crime, black weakness and victimization. In her question to Loury, Bari Weiss suggests the obvious:
And yet corporations and the entire elite establishment has taken up the cause of Black Lives Matter. And the cynic in me would say it’s just about the cheapest and easiest thing that they could possibly do.
“Cheapest and easiest,” certainly, but it’s more than that. What we’re doing now will have no meaningful impact on the overall well-being of black Americans. Elite embrace of those incompetent policies and hypocritical slogans reveals an uncomfortable fact: those elites are content with the status quo, with whites holding power over blacks, with blacks convinced of their own inabilities, with black-white disparities from here to eternity.
After all, consider that most important of all problems for black Americans – out-of-wedlock childbearing. No single change would accomplish more to improve the overall well-being of blacks in the U.S. than their raising their children in intact families. All those dysfunctional roads – underachievement in school, crime commission, poor mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, under/unemployment – lead back to single-parent (usually fatherless) upbringing. Change that one thing and we would dramatically improve black outcomes.
Not only that, but decreasing the rate of out-of-wedlock childbearing is something that black people can do for themselves without white help. Raising children in intact families is three things at once: (1) the most important “fix” for black-white disparities, (2) something blacks can do alone and (3) what’s never mentioned by the Left. And that does tell a tale, doesn’t it? The Left has no intention of leveling those black-white disparities that make up so much of its discourse.
It’s almost as if the “anti-racism” crowd is the most racist group of all.