Black America, ‘We’ve got no time for excuses’
Religion & Liberty Online

Black America, ‘We’ve got no time for excuses’

President Obama, on Sunday, delivered a touching autobiographic commencement address at Morehouse College, an all-male historically black college that is also the alma mater of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, that will likely bother many progressives.

NPR captured these important sections:

We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you’ve learned over the last four years is that there’s no longer any room for excuses. I understand that there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: ‘excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.’ We’ve got no time for excuses – not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and overcame.

You now hail from a lineage and legacy of immeasurably strong men – men who bore tremendous burdens and still laid the stones for the path on which we now walk. You wear the mantle of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, Ralph Bunche and Langston Hughes, George Washington Carver and Ralph Abernathy, Thurgood Marshall and yes, Dr. King. These men were many things to many people. They knew full well the role that racism played in their lives. But when it came to their own accomplishments and sense of purpose, they had no time for excuses.

President Obama couldn’t be more correct. We really don’t have time for excuses for Black America. In fact, excuse making has been so much a part of the progressive agenda for the past 50 years or so that it supported the assumption that elites in government are more enlightened than the average black person and should be telling blacks where to live; how much money they should earn; why marriage, family, and fatherhood are not essential to the rearing of children; and so on.

It’s the excuses that have proliferated the surrogate decision-making industrial complex that tells blacks that their biggest enemy in life is “the man” or “the system.” While there was a time where that was real and true overall, what is also true in 2013 is that, a globally competitive environment is only concerned with how one responds to the hand that one has been dealt. The perfect remains the enemy of the good and what progressive elites seem intent on doing is ascending to positions of authority and power to attempt to remedy the dark contingencies of human history as normal rather than positioning individuals to be empowered to navigate that space on their own in important ways. What the black community has needed since slavery is protection from the surrogate decision making of others so that blacks can use their creativity to solve their own problems, pursue what is needed to care for themselves and their families, and make their own contributions to the common good.

The progressive elites have delivered the message for decades that black success can only come by the direct action and special grace of elites in political power acting on their behalf. A strange sense of entitlement has emerged over the past 50 years that never existed in the black community throughout American history. Entitlement thinking, as the President pointed out, is so contrary to the black experience in America and exposes the folly of believing, by comparison, that blacks today had more difficult lives than previous generations of blacks. In fact, prior to the 1970s blacks overall all were more driven to get married and form families, pursue education, and be entrepreneurs than we find today. If Black America is going to have a shot at moving beyond the social pathologies that plague so many black neighborhoods, the President’s message will need to be taken seriously.

Anthony Bradley

Anthony B. Bradley, Ph.D., is distinguished research fellow at the Acton Institute and author of The Political Economy of Liberation: Thomas Sowell and James Cone on the Black Experience.