When it comes to slurring young African-Americans as promiscuous, violent, and stupid, influential African-American leaders and commentators make radio clown Don Imus and Neanderthal white supremacists look like amateurs.
Imus’ “nappy-headed hos” wisecrack demeaning black athletes was tame compared with the words of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who recently vilified an “entire generation of young men” whose “violence” is “sickening the soul of this nation.” Or of liberal columnist Bob Herbert, who excoriates young blacks as “insane,” “predators,” “running wild” and perpetrating “self-destructive sexual behavior and drug use.”
Or of comedian-turned-reactionary Bill Cosby, whose crude leerings degrading young black women and zeal for shooting poor people who steal food wins hosannas from liberal Juan Williams to right-winger Thomas Sowell. The hypocrisy of adulterer Cosby and of Oprah Winfrey – who impugns inner-city youth as materialistic and uneducable while she sports $10,000 eyelashes – demonstrate the sellout of elite blacks who are enriched by catering to whites.
Black leaders’ reckless indifference to the lethal history of the inflammatory lynching words they hurl at young blacks is appalling. When Pat McCrory, the white mayor of Charlotte, N.C., defended harsh police sweeps against black teens because “young African-Americans are imitating and/or participating in a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action,” the NAACP lambasted hizzoner for painting “African-American youth with a broad swath that cuts deep in many of our communities” and reinforcing “racist thinking and behavior.” Yes, but as The Associated Press reported, “McCrory’s words actually echoed those coming from many African-American leaders.”
Beyond their racism, the generational attacks of older blacks are morally disgusting. The self-righteous elders who bully youth lack the decency to acknowledge their own aging generation’s rampant violence, drug and crime epidemics that are wrecking families and communities, endangering young people and breaking their hearts. African-Americans ages 40 to 59 – whose average household incomes now top $50,000 – are America’s worst generation, rivaling older whites. Middle-aged blacks lead all other groups in death rates from heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs, and they are stuffing prisons by the hundreds of thousands.
Obama’s demagoguery against today’s “entire generation” of young black men, occasioned by the murders of 32 Chicago youths from Sept. 1, 2006 through July 31, 2007, failed to note that his own generation was twice as murderous. Back when Obama was a teen in the 1970s, some 60 to 70 Chicago kids were murdered every year.
Williams laments the passing of the “values of the traditional black community that nurtured children” versus today’s “failure to take personal responsibility,” “criminally bad parenting,” “growth of black crime,” and “crisis of school dropouts and teen pregnancy” stemming from the “self-defeating habits of many young black people.”
Is he high? Today’s black teens display sensational improvements over their parents’ generation. From 1970 to 2005, blacks under age 18 experienced declines in rates of violent deaths (45 percent), suicide and self-destructive deaths (48 percent), homicides and gun deaths (each down 13 percent), drug overdose deaths (83 percent), murder arrests (52 percent), rape (56 percent), robbery (31 percent), property crime (down 51 percent), serious felonies (44 percent), births by teen mothers (65 percent) and high school dropouts (59 percent). During the same time, blacks’ college enrollment has risen 43 percent.
Those are just numbers, you say? Older blacks surely “know their young” best because they share a skin color? Ridiculous. What individual knows what all 5 million black teenagers are thinking and doing? Whose memory perfectly recalls what millions of black youth were thinking and doing 30, 40 or 50 years ago?
When allowed to speak for themselves in surveys like Monitoring the Future, today’s black teens reveal much more optimism, happiness, social concern, community involvement, college orientation, support for social change, and respect for women’s rights than their parents did. Their improvements show up in solid social indexes.
FBI reports show that black youths’ crime rates are at their lowest level since the numbers were first compiled in 1965. In victimization surveys, black women report far less violence and rape than in past decades. Of all groups in society, black and Latino teens and young adults are the least likely to suffer suicide or drug abuse fatalities.
Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, and other civil rights legends never inflated their egos and images by demeaning black youth. Baldwin openly identified with his day’s “despised, maligned and menaced children” who displayed “an alertness, an eagerness and a depth” to “bring into existence a new people.”
Sadly, many of the 1970s black generation chose to identify with the destructive self-indulgence and pious bigotries of white baby boomers. Now, it’s up to today’s youth to resurrect the dreams of King and Baldwin.