Source: The Toledo Blade | May 27, 2001

Blacks Won't Go Far in Parallel Universe

Jack Kelly

The good news in a recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics is that the proportion of illegitimate births among black women declined slightly in 1999 from the year before. The bad news is that 69.1 percent of black babies born that year were born out of wedlock.

Fatherlessness is by far the most accurate predictor of whether a child will end up in poverty or in prison. In 1998, the median income for two-parent families was $52,553. For a mother who never married, it was $12,064.

The phenomenal rate of illegitimate births by black women is the principal reason why a third of blacks live in poverty, and why half the prison population is black. Some 70 percent of long-term inmates, and about 70 percent of juveniles in reform schools were raised in homes without their father.

Education has been the path from poverty to prosperity. The National Assessment of Education Progress reported that last year nearly two-thirds of black fourth-graders couldn't read. This is a looming catastrophe. But most of the few black "leaders" to notice it did so only to advocate lowering standards, or to blame it on whites.

Jesse Lee Peterson is a black pastor in Los Angeles. He recalls counseling a boy named Jimmy:

"Though bright and talented, Jimmy was filled with rage. His father had abandoned his mom and two brothers when he was a baby. He resented both his parents and expressed this rage toward whites, whom his black peers had taught him were to blame for his troubles. ... I asked him if he knew any white people personally, to which he said no.

"Black Americans are more racist today than whites are," Mr. Peterson asserts. "Whites have nothing to do with their [blacks] present handicap."

Mr. Peterson is politically conservative. But University of California-Berkeley professor John McWhorter, who is not, has a similar view. In his book Losing the Race, he says blacks are sabotaging themselves through a cult of victimization, a cult of separatism, and a cult of anti-intellectualism. Blacks are unlikely to take advantage of the opportunities available to them, he says, if they blame their problems on others, and if they condemn working or studying hard as "acting white."

"We are underestimating black people," he said. "Frankly, it insults me. Jews can survive centuries of persecution ... and have their children be expected to reach for any bar; Chinese . . . can be tortured on the streets and barred from employment anywhere but in laundries, sweatshops, and restaurants and have their children be expected to reach for any bar. But pull a well-fed suburban black kid over for a drug check one afternoon and subject him to a couple of teachers who don't call on him as often as other students and he's forever subject to lower expectations."

Martin Luther King, Jr., strove to bring us together. But many blacks are choosing to live in a parallel universe where O.J. is innocent, the AIDS virus was concocted by the CIA to exterminate blacks, and underneath anything a white person says to a black person is a hidden racial slur. People who choose to live in this parallel universe are unlikely to go far in the one that actually exists.

Jack Kelly is a member of The Blade?s national bureau. E-mail him at [email protected]