What Kind of Race Dialogue?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 8, 2009 | Go to article overview

What Kind of Race Dialogue?


Byline: Robert L. Woodson Sr., SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The turmoil over the chimp cartoon in the New York Post has breathed new life into the issue of race in America, provoking the familiar outcry by black pundits, civil rights activists and journalists. The issue of race has been brought to front and center with the cartoon coming on the heels of Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department speech accusing Americans of being cowards for not talking honestly about race.

The moral capital that will be expended, the money invested in these protests, and the publicity generated should instead go to address a more crucial unacknowledged crisis festering in the soul of Black America - the plight of child prostitutes in the nation's major cities. Over the last two years, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has labored nearly alone to rid her city of this menace in a campaign to rescue black children. In a PBS special broadcast, Mayor Franklin said, The child prostitutes are 10 and 11 years old, and the age is getting lower.

Alesia Adams, a former child advocate, told PBS, Girls were coming into juvenile court and talking about the same pimp ... and they had names branded on them, not tattoos These are brands. To show ownership of the young person.

Each year these black male pimps hold their annual ball in Atlanta. There is no protest planned against them, no irate columns, no Al Sharpton leading marchers. How does a dialogue on race serve the interests of these helpless children?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the highest form of maturity is the willingness to be self-critical. Unfortunately, we seem to only be willing to talk about race when whites are portrayed as villains and blacks as victims.

Those of us that have been active in the civil rights movement must move beyond these limited confines and lead an honest dialogue that confronts some of the troubling questions, past and present, that are internal to the black community.

A part of the new dialogue must confront the enemy within the black community itself. The emphasis on race is overshadowing the fact that increasing numbers of our children are being lost in a frenzy of self-destruction and are being preyed upon by adults.

Some years ago Black Enterprise Magazine reported that Washington, D.C., is the most prosperous city for upper-income blacks. The same week the Centers for Disease Control reported that a child born in Washington has a lower life expectancy that any child in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Haiti, because of the high level of violence visited upon these children. The coexistence of these two phenomena should be the topic we address, one far more critical than the future of Rupert Murdock.

The charge of racism was once reserved to challenge social and economic injustice. Today it is used as both a shield and a spear - a shield to protect black celebrities and public officials from responsibility for their personal misconduct, and a spear against any who dare to challenge its use.

King, himself the target of predatory surveillance by J. Edgar Hoover, refused to permit the movement to protect him. Like a tax incentive that became a tax loophole, over the last 40 years the racial issue has slid down a slippery slope to become something far different from its righteous origins.

Many civil rights activists have morphed into a race grievance industry that seeks to interject race into any and all situations regardless of the consequences for those involved. If your personal and organizational interest is organized around the existence of a problem, you have no proprietary interest in solving the problem.

When race confronts principle, race always seems to triumph. We saw this with Roland Burris' fight to become a U.S. senator. Rep. Bobby Rush first declared that anyone appointed to the Senate by Gov. Rod Blagojevich should not be seated. …

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