by Ron Christie
The concept of a ‘black community’ or ‘black America’ led by figures like Al Sharpton is counterproductive and, at best, outdated. It’s time we spent more time concentrating on what unites us.
In light of the tragic shooting of Michael Brown, I’ve been troubled by the notion that a monolithic entity called “Black America” or “the black community” still exists in the 21st century—if it ever existed at all. Moreover, I think that it is simply dangerous for the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to be allowed to act as if they speak for all black Americans. They don’t, but the media and our first black president perpetuate this insidious myth.
America has obviously made tremendous progress since the days of Jim Crow, Bull Connor, and voter intimidation at the polls. We have our first black president in Barack Obama, who immediately chose Eric Holder to be our top law enforcement officer. People of color serve at the highest levels of business, academia and politics. Still, without question, there is inequality in our country today. And does racism still exist in certain aspects of our society? Unfortunately, of course, the answer is yes.
But the civil rights era is over, and the idea that there’s still some separate Black America out there is as unproductive as it is inaccurate. The tragedy that took place in Ferguson should have allowed for a meaningful opportunity for everyone in this country to talk about race from an individual perspective. Instead, people who inflame racial tensions to suit their own political ends have helped polarize this nation further, leading to a continued “us” versus “them” idea of race that doesn’t do justice to our more complicated reality.
Case in point: the spectacle of Brown’s funeral on Monday. The day the young man should have been laid to rest in peace and dignity served as a political pep rally that underscored the false narrative that something called the black community is crying out for justice in light of the shooting. NBC News was happy to play into this fantasy in their coverage of Brown’s funeral by offering: “The crowd of 4,500 was brought to its feet by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the activist…who said Brown’s killing was a wakeup call for the black community and the entire nation.”
In his remarks, Sharpton noted: “All of us are required to respond to this. We can’t have a fit. We have to have a movement.” A movement? We need to have an impartial call for calm minds to search for the facts, not a kangaroo media court looking to convict a white police officer. We need to take a deep breath and push back on the destructive idea that white police officers hate blacks and want to shoot them.
Those in the grievance industry are always looking to make a buck off racial strife, and it’s time we stopped listening to them. Be honest: When you first heard about the tragic shooting, did you not think to yourself that the likes of Jackson and Sharpton would be along shortly with a bullhorn in one hand and a collection jar in the other?
We will never live up to our national motto of E Pluribus Unum until we stop hyphenating Americans and seeking to classify our fellow citizens based on race, ethnicity and gender. Six years into the much-ballyhooed presidency of our first post-racial president, race relations in America seem more polarized than they have in decades. Why is this the case?
SOURCE: The Daily Beast