If Barack Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright speaks volumes about the presidential candidate’s values and judgment, it also spotlights the widespread black culture of victimhood that encourages failure.
Since I began writing Newsmax stories in early January about Wright’s so-called Black Value System, his award for lifetime achievement to Louis Farrakhan, and his claim that America created the AIDS virus to kill off blacks, I have received hundreds of e-mails from African American readers who insist a white person cannot understand what it means to be black and live with the legacy of slavery.
In particular, blacks accused me of being racist or ignorant when I wrote that Obama was engaging in mythology when he claimed that Wright’s anger is understandable because he grew up in “humiliation and doubt and fear.”
In contrast to the portrait Obama painted, my story reported that both Wright’s parents had good jobs and that Wright and his family lived in a middle class section of Philadelphia. Wright was privileged to attend Central High School, which was 90 percent white and accepted only the most academically gifted students from throughout the city.
I am well aware of the discrimination that existed then. In 1964, as an editor of my college paper, I wrote articles that exposed discrimination against blacks in rental housing in Worcester, Mass., leading to investigations and a crackdown by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
In 1984, I wrote Washington Post stories revealing that Lena Ferguson had been denied membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) because she was black. The stories led not only to her admission to the DAR but to her appointment as chairman and founder of the D.C. DAR Scholarship Committee.
I am also aware of discrimination against practically every other minority, including Jews, 6 million of whom were killed by Adolf Hitler much more recently than blacks were slaves.
Finally, having interviewed Condoleezza Rice about her childhood, I am aware of the fact that, unlike Wright, she faced real segregation growing up in Birmingham, Ala. There, she attended segregated schools, sat at the back of buses, and had to drink from water fountains reserved for blacks. Yet her response was that she had to be “twice as good” as whites, and today she is secretary of state.
Whether Wright ever encountered prejudice is open to debate, but given his background, he clearly did not face the kind of conditions that might create the anger Obama described in his speech on race. What sets Wright and his many apologists apart from others who may have faced discrimination is that they have chosen to define their lives by the sins of the past.
That mindset is behind the black culture of victimhood that both Bill Cosby and Fox News contributor Juan Williams have denounced in their books. It is a culture that encourages blacks to think of themselves as still living in segregation, limiting their aspirations and creating a self-fulfilling expectation of failure.
It is a culture that defines good grades as something sissies get and success as the province of whites. It is a culture that leads blacks to grow up with a chip on their shoulders, contributing to an incarceration rate that is almost three times higher than that of the rest of the population.
As part of its Black Value System, Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ specifically endorses that attitude. The Black Value System, which I wrote about in the Jan. 7 Newsmax article “Barack Obama’s Racist Church,” includes the disavowal of the pursuit of “middle-classness.” That is defined as a way for American society to “snare” blacks rather than “killing them off directly” or “placing them in concentration camps,” just as the country structures “an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons.”
As Williams has told me, the black culture of victimhood cripples blacks by saying to them, “You can’t help yourself; you can’t help your family; and therefore all you can do is wait for the government to do something for you.”
The culture of failure says that “you are acting white if you're a good student, that says that going to jail is just a rite of passage, or that crime is acceptable in the black community,” Williams says. “You celebrate drug dealers and gangs, and you say, ‘That’s authentically black’ when you see criminal behavior. How self-defeating! What a negative image to take on to yourself, but even worse, to put on your children.”
Because they have not grown up in that culture, black immigrants from Africa and the Carribean are far more successful than blacks who were born in America, Williams says.
The notion of victimization is promoted by what Williams calls phony leaders who create support for themselves by blaming whites for the problems of blacks, ignoring the fact that in most organizations today, blacks are often promoted ahead of whites. Those same leaders have been appearing on our television screens of late, making excuses for Wright and using double-talk to explain away his racism and hatred of America.
The cynicism of these black leaders is underscored by the fact that, while denouncing “middle-classness” for members of his own congregation and their children, Wright is moving into a $1.6 million home in a nearly all-white suburb of Chicago. Paid for by the church, the home has a four-car garage and is four to five times the size of a typical suburban home.
That speaks to the hypocrisy of black leaders who have built their careers on encouraging black victimhood, ensuring that large segments of the black population remain downtrodden. The difference between those leaders and Condi Rice is that she chose not to become bitter over the past.
Aside from helping to expose Obama’s true character, if any good can come of the Rev. Wright controversy, it will be that blacks will come to understand that they have been sold a bill of goods by leaders who cynically encourage them to see themselves as victims.
Rather than making excuses for Wright, segments of the black population need to reject those leaders, embrace positive role models like Cosby and Williams, and work to demolish the imaginary chains that tragically still bind them to the past.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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