Lies of the Left, Wrongs of the Right: The State of Black Leadership in America

Note: These are my prepared remarks from Tea Party Review Magazine’s press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on May 18, 2011, titled “Lies of the Left, Wrongs of the Right.”

In the midst of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine began his essay series, The Crisis, with these words: "These are the times that try men's souls." Two-hundred and thirty five years later, those words sound eerily relevant to our circumstances today.

In times of crisis such as these, visionary leadership is not just important, it is essential. We need men and women who can define with crystal clarity what the future should look like, and how we will get there.

If we define vision, however, as foresight, then no community in America has been failed more by its so-called leadership than the black community. Rather than looking forward to a future of opportunity and promise after our victories in the civil rights movement, they continue to look backward as if this were still 1955 and we were still forced to ride in the back of the bus.

If education, employment and a strong family structure are the best indicators of success within a particular demographic group, then by any measure, the black community is in a death spiral. A quarter of black students don't graduate from high school; among young black males, over 50 percent don't graduate. The percentage of black people employed is the lowest it's been since records on that statistic have been kept. About three out of every four black children brought into the world are born into single parent families. Black women account for over a third of all abortions in America despite comprising only 13 percent of the female population.

The impact of the destruction of the black family is particularly telling. Families where black children are raised by a married mother and father have a poverty rate of 8.3 percent, while the poverty rate among single black parents is a staggering 40 percent.

Black leadership, whether it emerges from the pulpit, the classroom, the boardroom, the political rostrum, or any other platform, should be focused like a laser on these challenges, and promoting proven or promising solutions regardless of where they come from.

It's clear to me, however, based on simple observation, that the black leadership in America today is, for the most part, completely assimilated into and beholden to the liberal political agenda.

The Bible says, "By their fruits you shall know them," and their actions loudly declare that they are more dedicated to keeping their seat at the table with their liberal enablers than helping those of us who desperately need principled and compassionate leadership.

While black children and their parents are crying out for education options that remove their children from poor-performing and unsafe public schools, the Congressional Black Caucus stands in the school doorway like George Wallace in 1963, voting against vouchers and other alternative education programs at the behest of the unions, and denying black children the best chance they have for learning and getting ahead in life.

While black people are suffering the most under the high unemployment rates of the past two years, our self-anointed leaders find more solidarity with illegal aliens and unscrupulous employers, who collude to take jobs away from young and low-skill American workers, than they do with their constituents who look to them for help.

While over 16 million black lives and $4 billion of black wealth are taken from us by the abortion industry, black leadership screams in protest at the pro-life billboards erected in our cities by black people of principle, who actually live their Sunday values every day of the week.

As recently as this week, these self-anointed leaders were blaming racism for the high black unemployment rate. It's their continued refusal, however, to empower the black community with personal responsibility and expectations of excellence, and their support of policies that destroyed families and incentivized dependency, that have brought us to this point. We need less "Yes, we can!" and more "Yes, I can!"

A new millennium demands new leadership that acknowledges the broad shoulders of leaders past upon which we stand, but also recognizes that we gain no ground by casting our gaze steadily backwards. The world will surely continue to pass us by, and we must prepare ourselves for the great new challenges and opportunities to come.

I am heartened by the emergence of a new wave of independent black leadership, which embraces the uniquely American character traits of individual initiative and personal responsibility, entrepreneurship and redemption through grace. Their goal is to bring the black community into the American mainstream because, at the end of the day, we are equal heirs of this great land. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.”

For this emergence to take hold, however, we need the conservative movement to come alongside the new leaders, some of whom are in this room today, and work with them as equal partners.

If I may presume to speak as one of that number to our conservative and libertarian friends, we have made your task easier by returning to our conservative roots, sparing you the challenge of persuading us to join you.

The ostracism by family and friends, and the hatred of our community, were not enough to keep us from seeking and finding the truth. In return, however, we want to be respected as more than an adjunct arm of the conservative movement. We want to be standard-bearers, too.

When we risk everything to take a public stand for conservative values, please stand with us. When we suggest ways in which the conservative message can be more effectively conveyed to the black community, please act with us.

The Bible says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” We need more than talk; we need action, because lives are at stake.

We have come a long way to be here with you, and made many sacrifices on the road to liberty, and all we ask is that you honor us with your time, attention, and partnership so that we can lead with you.

We need each other, and our nation needs us. Just as Thomas Paine gave us words of warning about times of great crisis, he also gave us words of hope in his pamphlet aptly titled, Common Sense: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."