Let’s Have an Honest Discussion on Race

Driving in to work this morning, I was stunned that local radio host Chris Plante on Washinton, D.C.'s WMAL invited his listeners to have an open and honest discussion on race. What with all the excitement generated by Sen. Barack ObamaBarack ObamaPolitics and the perils of protectionism Trump on NAFTA: Renegotiate or withdraw Reid: Rubio should be sued over missed votes MORE’s (D-Ill.) “seminal” speech — remarks that my friend Chris Matthews has labeled as being worthy of Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln?

In any event, an African-American caller phoned in to say that White America is to blame for most of the crime, drugs and woe that befall the black community. As incredulous as I was, another called opined that whites operate on an unequal playing field and that blacks just do the best they can under the circumstances.

As we come upon the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King (April 4), I can’t believe we’ve fallen so far away from the spirit and hope of his dream here at the beginning of the 21st century. What happened to being judged by the content of one’s character rather than the color of one’s skin? What happened to the calls for self-reliance and responsibility?

Instead, we’ve arrived at an America nearly 40 years after King’s death that is either unable or unwilling to admit that many of the programs (and the billions upon billions of dollars spent) have largely been a failure. Those who bemoan the state of education of black youth here in the nation’s capital neglect to mention that per capita spending for students in the District of Columbia has produced meager progress — all the while spending nearly more per student than any other school district in the country. Money isn’t the problem — shuffling students along grade after grade in failing schools produces students who are unable to compete in today’s workplace.

And while we’re at it, I’m tired of hearing about how 4,000 American troops have died “for nothing” protecting America in Iraq. As Plante noted this morning, there have been more than 4,000 black males killed by other black males THIS YEAR, rather than the five years it has taken for American servicemen and -women's casualties to reach the same figure. I’m not equating deaths in Iraq with murders in black communities — I’m wondering where the media interest or outcry is that 4,000 black males have been killed this year.

Let’s have an honest and open discussion on race, rather than the selective statistics and pleas for more funding to end societal woes. Sometimes doing what is best is the hardest thing to do — let’s discuss our diversity in America and why our diversity is our greatest strength, one that can bring us all together.

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