Their legislative remedies were predicated on the belief that the problems of black people — whether high crime rates, drug use or poor educational performance — were, primarily, if not entirely, the result of white racism.

Their obligation was to promote and protect their constituents by offering remedies to specific aspects of racial discrimination (i.e. segregated schools, disparity in pay, public accommodations, etc.) In other words, they wed their legitimacy to the belief that all the problems confronting blacks were rooted in racism.

To this day, many black officeholders depend on the perception of ongoing, widespread racism in order to remain competitive in the electoral process. They underplay the dramatic improvements in economic and social status experienced by blacks over the last 40 years. Large numbers of their constituents, particularly those who came to age during the overt racism of the past half century, continue to believe that the problems confronting the black lower class stem primarily from racism.

Herein lies the greatest missed opportunity of the civil rights movement. They never prepared for the day when the hand of God would move the conscience of a nation and many whites would join the spiritual movement to start treating minorities as equals. 

Their entire public image, their very legitimacy as political and cultural spokespeople, was predicated on the rhetoric of a black-versus-white war. As my mentor, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, once observed, the [civil rights] revolution missed a larger point by merely changing the status [of minorities] from invisible to victimized.

Tragically, this point was also missed by the pop culture, which glorifies images of black misogyny, violence and victimization. We hold up gansta rappers as models of achievement. 

Hey, they’re just keeping it real, we say. 

Meanwhile our children stare at these sociopaths with adoring eyes. They emulate their mean sense of entitlement, their broken English and their violence because this is what the popular culture tells us it means to be black.