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January 19, 2009

Has Martin Luther King's Dream Been Fulfilled?

Evidence A: Whitebread actor Joachin Phoenix raps.

Two thirds of blacks now say it has been fulfilled (up from one third just a year ago), but whites are more skeptical.

That two thirds is not going to hold up. This is a point of near ecstasy for many blacks (pick your meaning, spiritual or sexual or both), and once this is digested as "normal" -- i.e., once Obama is in office for a few months -- a lot of this artificial optimism will dissipate and we'll be left with a nice but not huge bump to that number. Instead of two thirds saying the dream's been fulfilled, say, 40% will say so.

Ed Morrissey wonders why whites are so much more skeptical of the "dream" being made manifest than blacks. He figures it's that whites feel they cannot judge this, that it's up to blacks, and so are reserved about saying so.

I think that's partly it, but there's something more. One of the greatest impediments to black progress is not white racism but an oppositional black culture which denigrates many successful habits and aspirations of whites as "inauthentic" and "tools of the white man," in favor of a we-ourselves system that seems chiefly based upon a negation of "white values." Alas, this system doesn't work. It has not worked for 30 years and there is no data suggesting it's about to turn the corner.

Further, there are other models of demonstrated success to emulate -- the Asians', the Jews' -- and yet these too seem rejected as either "white-derived" or also inauthentic and not uniquely black enough.

An even greater impediment to black success is racism, but not racism itself -- the psychological conceit that all that's bad that happens in life is due to racism, and the conclusion this suggests, that there is no point striving "by the rules" in a game stacked against you if you're doomed to fail. With all due respect to blacks nurturing this psychological conceit -- 90% of the reason that bad things happen in life is that that's just what happens in life.

Didn't get a promotion? Usually not racism; just life.

Not making as much money as you think you deserve? Just life. Join the club.


If this were merely a psychological construct it would have no great impact, apart from political expressions and perpetually voting for awful grievance-mongering candidates. But it has a much more insidious effect than that -- many blacks believe that there is no hope whatsoever of advancement in the "White Power Structure," and therefore do not bother to try. Michelle Obama herself claims that as a black woman she's had to work twice as hard to get half as far, despite the fact that she does not seem to have worked particularly hard and yet has gone pretty damn far. And if even Michelle Obama, making $300,000 for a make-work political-favor blow-off cush sinecure non-job, is telling you it's well-nigh hopeless, well then. I guess it's well-nigh hopeless.

So if whites are more skeptical, it's because we are not nearly as gripped by Obamania as many blacks are (well, except for whites in the media), and we kinda-sorta know that after Obama is elected, life is still going to be unfair, filled with disappointments, slights, and setbacks. Just because that's the way life often is. And we know too that after the ecstasy of the ascent of The One fades, blacks are going to continue to reject proven models for success in favor of demonstrably failed "uniquely black" models for such, and that blacks will advance very modestly, and those who don't advance will reassert anew that this is a hopelessly racist country built upon the backs of slaves and the continued repression of their descendants.

The election of a president does not change the basic facts that life is hard and that the best (and in most cases, only) avenue to social and economic advancement is the championing of education and striving in school, rather than denigrating that as inauthentic and as "acting white." (Or as "acting Asian" or "acting Hebraic.")

For Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to be realized, it requires not just whites to move past racism -- but for blacks to move past it as well.

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posted by Ace at 12:50 PM

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