Black Political Power Means Zilch

Walter E. Williams, lewrockwell.com, April 11, 2018

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Between 1970 and 2012, the number of black elected officials rose from fewer than 1,500 to more than 10,000. Plus, a black man was elected to the presidency twice. Jason Riley, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, tells how this surge in political power has had little beneficial impact on the black community.

In a PragerU video, “Blacks in Power Don’t Empower Blacks” (http://tinyurl.com/y84psoyt), Riley says the conventional wisdom was based on the notion that only black politicians could understand and address the challenges facing blacks. Therefore, electing more black city councilors, mayors, representatives and senators was deemed critical. Even some liberal social scientists now disagree. {snip} Riley says that while many black politicians achieved considerable personal success, many of their constituents did not.

{snip} Riley asks: If the racial composition of the police force is so important, how does one explain the Baltimore riots the following year after Freddie Gray died in police custody? Baltimore’s police force is 40 percent black. Its police commissioner is black. Its mayor is black, as is the majority of the City Council. What can be said of black political power in Baltimore can also be said of Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta and New Orleans. In these cities, blacks have been mayors, police chiefs, city councilors and superintendents of schools for decades.

By contrast, when blacks had little political power, they made significant economic progress. During the 1940s and ’50s, black labor force participation rates exceeded those of whites; black incomes grew much faster than white incomes. Between 1940 and 1950, black poverty rates fell by as much as 40 percent. Between 1940 and 1970, the number of blacks in middle-class professions quadrupled. {snip}

{snip} Riley asks, “How many prominent Asian politicians can you name?” By contrast, Irish-Americans have long held significant political power yet were the slowest-rising of all immigrant groups.

Riley says that the black experience in the U.S. has been very different from that of other racial groups. {snip} Riley adds that the formula for prosperity is the same across the human spectrum. Traditional values — such as marriage, stable families, education and hard work — are immeasurably more important than the color of your mayor, police chief, representatives, senators and president.

As Riley argues in his new book — “False Black Power?” — the major barrier to black progress today is not racial discrimination. The challenge for blacks is to better position themselves to take advantage of existing opportunities, and that involves addressing the anti-social, self-defeating behaviors and habits and attitudes endemic to the black underclass.

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