Juan Williams on African-American 'Victimhood'
Many African-American leaders have lost touch with a hallmark of the civil rights movement -- the tradition of self-empowerment, Juan Williams says in his new book. Instead, they've embraced the notion of "victimhood," the NPR senior correspondent says.
His book is called Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America -- and What We Can Do About It.
"I think it's a terrible signal to our young people about who black people are to have us constantly wrapped in the cloak of victimhood, and to have black leadership that in a knee-jerk fashion defends negative, dysfunctional behavior," Williams tells Steve Inskeep.
Their conversation begins a week-long series on the state of leadership in the African-American community, and contemporary African-American life.
There is an excerpt from the book (part of which I've posted below) as well as links to other stories on this topic and interviews with Williams. It'll be interesting to see how people react to this. Specifically I'm waiting to see how long it will take for someone to start claiming that Williams is shilling for white conservatives, a self hating black man, etc etc.
One of Cosby's sharpest darts thrown at the current civil rights leaders hit home a few months after his Constitution Hall speech. He was at a town-hall meeting in Detroit to speak directly to black Americans in one of the nation's blackest cities. He wanted ordinary black people to hear from him directly about his comments at the Brown anniversary gala. When he reflected on today's black civil rights leaders, Cosby essentially asked, Why are black leaders making the case for black crack addicts to get softer sentences? Why are black leaders so concerned that cocaine users get shorter sentences than crack smokers? Let's look at the logic. It is true that the people snorting cocaine are more often white and middle-class, and crack addicts are disproportionately black and lower-class. You can make the case for a racial disparity in sentencing. But what if all this effort from black leaders was successful and crack addicts got lower sentences?
"Hooray," Cosby said, spitting it out bitterly. "Anybody see any sense in this? Systemic racism, they [black leaders] call it." Then Cosby pointed out the obvious issue--but one that the black civil rights leadership somehow missed or for some reason underplayed. Black leaders, he declared, should tell poor black people to stop smoking crack. They ought to demonize anybody who does it. They should say it is a betrayal of all the black people who fought to be free, independent, and in control of their own lives since the day the first slave ship landed. They should identify the crack trade as one of the primary reasons why so many young black people are ending up in jail. Certainly, back leaders should be in front of marches pushing those crack dealers out of black neighborhoods. And that effort should include a message that has yet to be heard with sincerity from black leaders: using crack, heroin, or any other addictive drug, including excessive drinking of alcohol, is self-destructive, breaks up families, saps ambition, and is more dangerous than most white racists.