Your race card has been declined

Imagine you’re on a trip and you need to purchase a ticket or check in a bag. You hand the attendant your credit card, she runs it through the reader, and a frown crosses her face. She hands the card back to you and says in a solemn voice, “I’m sorry, but your card has been declined.” How do you feel? Embarrassed? Helpless? Let’s take the story a step further. You call the credit card company, irate that your card has been declined. They look up your records and say, “You’ve reached your credit limit. I’m sorry but there’s nothing more I can do.”

You’ve gotten so used to using the card that you haven’t bothered to monitor its use or keep enough cash on hand for emergencies. You’re out of options.

How do you feel now?

The day is coming where the black community is going to play the race card one time too many, and American society is going to hand it right back to them and say, “Sorry – that card has been declined.” In fact, I think we began accelerating toward that day last summer, when the NAACP squandered its civil rights legacy on a hunt for racist bogeymen in the Tea Party movement.

Everyday Americans, who categorically reject racism and discrimination and never practiced either in their lives, were offended at being called something they were not, and they began to see the race card for what it is – a cynical ploy by white liberals and black elites to keep black Americans in a perpetual state of bitterness and unforgiveness.

The liberals know they have to hold the black community together in solidarity against their political adversaries, or they will not be able to keep power. To use a famous Margaret Sanger quote in the context of a topic other than murdering unborn black children, should blacks begin questioning whether or not 50 years of liberal policies have done anything at all to advance “the black agenda,” the race card is the means by which they “can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members:”

“Yes, we know we’ve spent 50 years and tens of trillions of dollars on social experiments in the black community and all the negative statistics – out-of-wedlock, births, high school dropout rates, unemployment, poverty, crime, incarceration rates, and untimely death – are actually worse than they were when racism was more prevalent and discrimination was legal. Yes, we know it took less time – four years – and less money – $13 million – through the Marshall Plan to turn war-torn Europe into a more prosperous economy than it was before the war, than it’s taken for us to fix what ails black Americans.

“But look at those conservatives over there – they’re RAAAACISTSSSS!”

What a specious and tenuous approach to uplifting a community of men and women, by tearing another down without cause.

I don’t want to get into the discussion of whether or not racism exists. I’ve already acknowledged on more than one occasion that it will be with us until Christ comes because it is part of human nature – we Christians call it original sin.

The debate over whether or not it’s a primary factor in the struggles facing black Americans will continue ad nauseum, because some believe it gives us power to appeal to America’s conscience. I contend we have more power over racism than it has over us, if we’re willing to focus on our response to it, which we control, rather than the fact it exists, which is outside our control.

I also don’t think it is the sole, primary, secondary or even tertiary reason for our problems. “Blaming the victim!” the liberals cry when we talk about personal responsibility and accountability, and the role of morality and discipline in lifting people out of poverty.

Well, who decided we were victims? Did we willingly accept that cloak of sackcloth and ashes, or was it placed upon us by our condescending white knights and their black squires?

President Obama is nobody’s victim, but you’d think he was by the way white liberals and blacks come to his defense, hollering “racism” at every criticism or perceived slight. He does nothing to discourage it because it spares him the trouble of defending his policies, and keeps his opponents on the defensive, if it doesn’t hush them altogether.

Barack Obama is a willing gladiator in the arena. He beat Chicago politics, the Clinton family, and the Republican Party’s elder statesman and war hero, John McCain – I know some of you gagged at that “statesman” comment, but go with me this time, OK? – to become the most powerful man in the free world, the first black president of the United States. And he did it by winning more votes from – gasp! – white people than any non-incumbent presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter! He won more white votes than those two white boys who preceded him, Al Gore and John Kerry.

“That’s not true, They’re RAAAACISTSSSS!”

Stop it.

Obama is a grown-up and the president of the United States. Criticism, a lot of it mean-spirited and  unfair, comes with the job. Some may use his blackness to come after him, to be sure, but if it wasn’t his skin color, they’d find something else.

Every president is a lightning rod, and it’s astounding to me how quickly we’ve forgotten the vitriol directed at former President Bush over eight years, beginning with him being labeled as “selected, not elected,” and worsening considerably after he won re-election in 2004, and liberal heads in America and around the world exploded.

Bush’s disapproval ratings before he left office were the highest ever for a president, and President Obama has yet to approach that dubious record. Bush endured personal slights about his intelligence and integrity, and was frequently portrayed as Hitler (signature evil) and a chimpanzee (signature stupidity, even though he had better grades at Yale than the supposedly superior intellect, John Kerry).

Every other group that has made it in America has understood that nobody’s giving you anything in life, even if you think they owe it to you, so do your part and don’t worry about what other people, even your own people, say or do. Handle your business and the rest will take care of itself. You’ll even find people along the way who will see you handling your business and step in to help, because those kind of people are getting harder to find.

The statistics bear this out  – if you graduate from school, get and keep a job, get married, and then have children, in that order, you are four times less likely to end up poor. That’s handling your business.

Instead, we use racism as an excuse to blame others and not handle our business. We’ve paid a heavy price for fostering groupthink over individual liberty and initiative. if there’s a common denominator among blacks who’ve had success in America, it’s that they put their individual achievement ahead of fitting in with the group.

When I attended a predominantly black school in the early 1970s, I was harassed mercilessly by the other students for my speech, bearing, obedience of authority, and studiousness. It hurt – I was a twelve-year old boy – but I didn’t care. My parents gave me all the self-esteem I needed, and I knew I was doing the right thing. I handled my business. And a lot of people, including a lot of white folks, have helped me along the way, most of them without any expectation other than friendship and my continued success.

“They must have been using you. They’re RAAAACISTSSSS!”

Let me lay some realpolitik on you. The race card is approaching its credit limit; it may be there already. Baseless accusations eventually go ignored – didn’t your mommy or daddy read you “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”? – and then what? Oh yes, contrary to what you think, when you’re not the predominant group, you may think you get to decide who’s racist or who isn’t, but the people in power are the ones that have the influence and the ability to affect your life and, if they refuse to respond to you, or actually decide to act as you’ve accused them, then your being the “decider” on race doesn’t mean jack.

Strength in numbers? We are a minority to begin with, and with abortion killing 16-17 million of us and counting since Roe vs. Wade, we’re losing ground. The political process? We’re completely sold out to one political party; no other demographic group is as predictable as we are. Therefore, one party takes us for granted, and the other one ignores us. Economic pressure? We have $1 trillion of America’s GDP in the black community, but judging from the state of our urban areas and other poor black enclaves, we don’t know what to do with it.

Violence? Over what – the fact Americans aren’t turning over the fruits of their labors without question to us? Besides, unless you have a National Guard at your beck and call, it won’t be a fair fight. And when we get violent, it seems our communities suffer significantly more than the ones we think have aggrieved us.

We need to start cultivating options today, and I spelled out some key actions we need to take in my book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom’s Porch:

- Embrace the American character of individual liberty – when the individual succeeds, the group succeeds.

- Demand educational alternatives now – we can’t wait for more generations to be lost or for the hidebound public school system to get its act together, something it hasn’t done for 50 years.

- Promote entrepreneurship and financial literacy – we have the resources and the brain power to create and own our own businesses, and with financial training that begins with personal and family finances, and extends to the generation, utilization and expansion of capital, we can put that $1 trillion of black-owned wealth to work.

- Finally, the most important step of all – forgive.

Too many of us hold on to the past as if it were yesterday, or as if we were the ones shackled and beaten. If Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Bridget “Biddie” Mason and other former slaves could forgive, handle their business, and achieve wealth, status and greatness in a world that didn’t think they were their equals, can we do no less?

Christ, who handled His business like no one else in history, knew there was nothing man could do to make up for his sins against God, and that the only way to restore our relationship with Him was for God to wipe the slate clean and begin afresh, giving us a new mind and heart. Jesus forgave as He was being murdered, and that forgiveness reverberated throughout history and changed the world. He paid the price we could never pay, and then defeated evil and death with his resurrection, which we just celebrated last weekend.

We can resurrect ourselves, our communities, and our relationship with our fellow Americans, but we must first forgive as we have been forgiven by our Creator.

There’s an old saying that goes “Unforgiveness is the poison we drink everyday, hoping the other person will die.” The race card has been declined; it’s time to put down the cup of poison and drink from the cup of liberty and unity that sits within our reach.