Annapolis (April 1) - Ron Miller, author of SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom's Porch, black conservative writer and commentator, and president of Regular Folks United, issued the following statement on the National Urban League's report, "The State of Black America 2011:" "The release yesterday by the National Urban League of their annual 'State of Black America' report, and the accompanying town hall discussion, have taken on the look and feel of liturgy, a prescribed act of public worship driven by tradition and resistant to modern influence. This report has been issued annually since 1976, and the problems and solutions presented have essentially remained unchanged for 35 years.
"If we aren't willing to admit that the prescriptions of the past have failed to effect a cure, then we are not serious about fixing the problems, and condemning millions of black Americans to permanent underclass status in the process.
"The first step is to acknowledge what we can and can't change. Structural racism is often mentioned as a culprit in the astronomically high school dropout rates among young blacks, especially males, and the correspondingly high rates of unemployment and poverty. While racism is real, it's neither the sole nor primary reason for the plight of urban blacks, and hasn't been for some time.
"As someone who suffers from environmental allergies, I recognize I can't wait for the environment to change or disappear in order to function on a daily basis. I pursue a regimen to manage the symptoms, and I inoculate myself against allergens to the maximum extent possible. Racism is a condition of the human heart and is beyond our ability to control. We need to learn how to function and succeed in spite of racism. In fact, racism isn't our greatest enemy.
"I'm more concerned about those who stand in the doorway, blocking the path to charter schools, home schooling, voucher programs and other alternatives for black children who don't have the luxury of time to wait for failing public schools to become safer and more effective in educating them.
"I'm more concerned about our continuing reliance on federal and state government money when their budgets are imploding. The public fiscal crisis is real, and it's not just happening here, but in nations like Ireland, Portugal and Greece, where they are taking dramatic action to keep from going under and taking their people with them. Government can't save us, if it ever could, and we need to get back to what has always worked in times past, and that is self-reliance, personal responsibility, and localism, which builds on the strengths of individuals, families, community organizations, houses of worship and local businesses to take care of problems in our own backyard.
"I'm more concerned about the $1 trillion of America's gross domestic product that resides in the black community, which could be used to train potential entrepreneurs, build neighborhood businesses, establish alternative schools, mentor black boys who need male role models to teach them how to be men, and teach good financial stewardship to black families so they can build generational wealth, among other things. Entrepreneurship, education and examples are what our communities need, and we have the resources to meet those needs.
"I am NOT concerned, however, about whether or not we have the capacity to change as the world around us changes, or to achieve in the midst of adversity. Our history in America is that of a strong and proud people who accomplished amazing things in the darkest of times for black Americans.
"If Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave without a formal education, could rise to become one of the greatest orators and writers of his day, so great that many didn't believe he had ever been a slave, then what more could I do in an age where my civil rights are protected by law? If Bridget 'Biddie' Mason, an illiterate slave who was emancipated at the age of 38, can become a wealthy woman and one of the greatest philanthropists in Los Angeles history, can I presume to do less?
"As I indicated in my appearance on MSNBC yesterday, it is time for us to declare 'The State of Black America' a matter of personal responsibility and local control. Thomas Paine once declared, 'We have it in our power to begin the world over again,' and no one is better inspired and equipped to redefine the state of our communities than those who live in them."