Obama fails to lead by blaming today's black problems on the legacy of discrimination
Published by: Herman Cain
We can solve these problems, but not if we focus on blaming the past.
One principle of leadership is that the tone is set from the top. When the leader asserts that a problem can be solved, the troops will take on the mindset of solving the problem. When the leader's priority is to assign blame for the problem but not to focus on solutions, blame becomes the rule of the day.
So the tone set by the president of the United States is crucial in determining whether we will solve long-term problems or just sit around pointing fingers at each other. A lot of black people thought that the election of the first black president would usher in a time in which we would finally embrace real solutions to the problems facing the black community. Barack Obama has been a huge disappointment there.
Rarely has this been so evident than in his recent comments at a town hall meeting in New York.
With black unemployment returning to double the rate of whites, the president told a town hall in New York that minority populations are struggling economically because of past discrimination, and because of anxiety over his vision of wealth redistribution.
A lot of people don't like to hear this, but we have to be honest with ourselves: The lack of wealth in the black community has nothing do with the legacy of discrimination at this point. Are you going to blame the increase in babies born out of wedlock on the legacy of discrimination? Are you going to blame the high dropout rates on that?
The problem with focusing on such lame is that it does not help people feel the resolve that we can solve those problems. A leader who encourages you to take ownership of the situation is really telling you that it's within your power to solve the problem, and that you have a responsibility to do it. A leader who tells you it's all someone else's fault might make you feel better, but he doesn't put you in a position to take action and make things better.
As I said in my column yesterday about the 1963 March on Washington, I took inspiration from that event to embrace aresponsibility to do the right things and succeed. How could I do any less after Dr. King and those who struggled along with him gave their all to win us the rights that should have been ours all along? There are voices in the black community, particularly Bill Cosby, who are telling the black community to knock off the crime, knock off the drugs, knock off dropping out of school, knock off having babies out of wedlock - that it's time to honor our legacy and heritage by making the most of what Dr. King gave us. Many do, of course, but far too many have become mired in the mentality of poverty.
He doesn't deny the legacy of slavery and discrimination. How could anyone? He simply says that today we have the opportunity to take our lives in our own hands and do what's right - and we must.
I welcome Mr. Cosby's message and I echo it. But it would really be powerful if that message came from the first black president of the United States, instead of the same old story of why it's always someone else's fault. That's the tone a real leader would set.
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