In a speech that is sure to make him an instant enemy in the liberal realm of identity politics, award-winning African-American writer Shelby Steele said Wednesday that the era of black oppression in America was over and it was time for black Americans to rise up to the challenges presented by a free society. Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event in Washington, Steele argued that that movements like Black Lives Matter provided young African-Americans with a “comfort zone where people land because they are afraid of freedom.”
“Liberalism, I think, has effectively become the new racism,” Steele lamented. “It mimics segregation by seeing blacks as helpless inferiors. Black inferiority is its greatest sort of cause and it has tended to hide reality behind empty idealism in a way that belittles blacks, keeps them down, debilitates them. It literally demands dependency from them.”
Steele went on to say that liberalism in the 21st century had turned into a perverted reward system for black failure. He said that blacks were viewed as more authentically black the less successful they were – a cultural point system that actually discouraged people of color from aspiring beyond their circumstances. However, he said that didn’t change the fact that the rules and laws of the United States were no longer penalizing blacks for their skin color and that anyone could choose at any time to break free of their surroundings, their expectations, and their cultural limitations to do whatever they wanted to do with their lives.
“The breaking news here is that our oppression is over,” he said. “It’s just over. We can’t organize ourselves any longer fighting against a society that doesn’t want us to be free. Society today wants us to be free. Maybe they love us, maybe they don’t, but they want us to be free, and that is a revolutionary change, a transformation probably only possible in the United States, but we are now free.”
Unfortunately, there is a lot of money to be made by convincing black Americans (and Hispanics, and gays, and so on…) that they are victims of a racist, fascist society. And this is one of the easiest messages in the world to accept when you look around at your personal failures and your disagreeable circumstances and want someone to blame other than yourself. It is far more difficult – if far more liberating – to turn the finger of blame back on yourself and then take responsibility for your own success.
If there were more black leaders out there like Shelby Steele and fewer like Al Sharpton, the petty grievances of Black Lives Matter would dissolve into so much dust. And black America – hell, America in general – would be much better off for it.