Monday, March 24, 2008


I listened to Senator Obama’s recent speech on race relations and his attempt to try to explain away Jeremiah Wright. I admire his attempt but I wasn’t convinced. I came away wondering what is the state of race relations today?

I guess I am what Senator Obama calls a “typical white person”. Personally I don’t really know what a typical white person is. Those of you who know me know that I was born and raised in the South. An examination of my family tree often gets a little fuzzy. Some have even said that my family tree doesn’t fork. Regardless, I appear to be more white than anything else. So, I have a question, does a typical white person automatically have bias or prejudice against black people? Do black people have that same prejudice against white people? If so, would you call them typical black people? Who is responsible for the state of racial relations in America? It is with this in mind that I offer this essay.

It seems to be generally accepted that unless you are black, you cannot comment on the black experience. Does that mean that because I am not a woman that I cannot comment on women? I am not gay so I cannot comment on gays? I am not wealthy so I cannot offer any opinion on the rich?

To all of these so called rules I say nonsense. This essay however turns out to be less about race and more about personal responsibility and choices.

America’s prisons have a disproportionate number of black inmates.
Some will say that the judicial system is skewed against minorities. Others will say that blacks are in prison because they commit the great majority of the crimes. There is also a group who believe poverty is at the root of all of this crime. It’s all about the money. Drugs, prostitution, and robbery pay much better than slinging hash at the local eatery. Regardless of your belief, one thing is clear. Unwed mothers are producing babies at an epidemic rate. Black crime is out of control. The plight of black people in America is deteriorating. Granted, not for all but definitely for many.

Does anyone honestly believe that black lives are improved by the likes of Jeremiah Wright? When a so-called Christian pastor begs God to damn America for its perceived sins and blames the government for 9-11 or for the introduction of HIV aids, are black lives made better? When the audience jumps up from the pews and cheers, does that mean that this message of hate resonates? Is this church an anomaly or is this message being preached in all the black churches? Does Senator Obama share these views? He has since said no. If that is truly the case then why is he a member of such a church? Many years ago when the verdict was announced in the O. J. Simpson murder case, a local TV camera was trained on a large group of well educated, intelligent, black engineers at Boeing in the Seattle area. When he was pronounced “not guilty” they erupted with cheers. Were they cheering the fact that a cold blooded murderer was being released back on society or that a black man had gotten over on the white man? Just a question.

As a so called “typical white person” I choose to be presumptuous enough to believe that all people can improve their lives. Whether you are black, white, Asian, or Latino you and only you are ultimately responsible for your destiny. Here are some thoughts which may be helpful.

· Stay in school. Get educated. Study hard and follow the rules.

· Speak proper English. Whether you like it or not, it is the language of America and American business. Stay away from street slang.

· Pull your pants up. Turn your cap around. If you look like a street thug, or a punk that is what people will think you are. And, yes, it is important what people think.

· Don’t mark up your face and neck with piercings and tattoos. They are permanent and difficult to hide.

· Keep your pants zipped up. Unwed parents almost always guarantee their own and their children’s poverty.

· Obey the law. A prison record isn’t very good on your resume.

· Forget victimology. Accept responsibility for your life. Quit blaming others for your problems. Get over it.

· Stop looking for handouts. As long as you are a ward of any government, you will never be free or successful.

· Be very wary of those who would presume to be your leaders. Their motives may not be so innocent.

There are many more suggestions and you may have many of your own, but I think you get my drift.

Three of my heroes happen to be black and if you had studied any of their writings or speeches you may well find that they would say these same things. Those three are Bill Cosby, Dr. Thomas Sowell, and Dr. Walter Williams. You all know of Mr. Cosby but Dr. Williams may be new to you. He is former Chairman of the Economics Dept of George Mason University. Dr. Sowell is a renowned economist from California.

We all have choices. George Jones recorded a song a few years back that went something like this. “I’ve had choices since the day that I was born. There were voices that told me right from wrong. If I had listened I wouldn’t be here today, living and dying with the choices I made.” If you want to be successful in America, join America. That doesn’t mean you can’t be black, Asian, or Latino or that you have to be white. It means that America is not going to join you. That is a profound reality. It’s your choice. As a “typical white person” I would welcome your presence and your success.

Ron Scarbro

March 24, 2008

1 comment:

Heather Olson said...

As a successful member of your "Family Tree" or as some have said, "Family Wreath" LOL, and as your favorite daughter, I applaud you! But you are use to that. I have sat at your feet for 40+ years (figuratively of course) and created my own set of values. I married a man who is strong and convicted in his values. More often than not, all of our values blend well. I feel honored to be your daughter. I am so proud that my parents are not only still married to each other, but that you both treat one another with passion, love and respect. I learned about personal responsibility and consequences growing up. I learned that no matter how bad I screwed up, I was loved. I learned that you would let me screw up and that I would live through it. I made messes, I cleaned them up. When I didn't think I could, you were right there with guidance and support.
Today I have 2 amazing children. I have a strong foundation to guide them from. I teach young women foundational lessons about their personal responsibility, about the choices they make in life. I know that's my God given calling. I know I can make a defining difference in this world. Teaching Empowerment For Life and creating a curriculum for living is making me a better mom. Your comments on race etc speaks to me. I now live in the South. I heard about this place growing up, but having only experienced it through your stories, I had to discover it for myself. The South is like everywhere else and like nowhere else. Here in Charleston, our population is approximately 40% Black, 50% White and 10% Latino. The lines are clearly drawn. They are drawn by the Whites, the Blacks and the Latinos equally. The lines get blurry at times but everyone knows where they are. Your blog comments are about race and so much more; they're about life. They are about choices, about making defining life choices. As always, I love you and I thank you. Heather Olson