The past two weeks found me musing on the lives of people, recently departed, whose lives have affected mine. One of those people is a woman with a small but potent sphere of influence. Her effect on me was profound, but personal.
The other is a person of renown with a much larger sphere of influence, whose writing and commentary began to help shape my cultural and political philosophy when I was only beginning to form them.
In the case of both of these people, one word I would use to describe them is unequivocal. My kind of people. The kind of people with which there is little to no ambiguity. On issues that matter, they are clear about where they stand and leave no room for doubt about it.
Unequivocal: Not ambiguous; not of doubtful signification; not admitting different interpretations; as unequivocal words or expressions.
My friend was a woman who loved without partiality and judgment. With her there was no hypocrisy and no doubt.
The educator and commentator who helped me reconcile that the common sense values of my youth were incongruent with the political traditions I had embraced was unequivocal in his assertions. And he was right.
Because this is a site dedicated to learning, literacy, and the importance of education’s impact on culture, I want to focus on the unequivocal work and words of the recently departed Dr. Walter E. Williams. He was an economist, educator, and prolific author.
Dr. Williams, an economy professor at George Mason University, passed away on December 2, at the age of 84. You can read the Washington Post’s subpar obituary here, and Dr. Thomas Sowell’s tribute to him here.
I have never reviewed one of Walter Williams’ books in this space. I have only read one, Race and Economics, and it was back before I began this blog. However, in honor of his legacy I intend to read it next month and review it here. I’ll end this post with an excerpt from one of Dr. Williams last columns, Blackshttp://walterewilliams.com/blacks-of-yesteryear-and-today/ of Yesteryear and Today:
At the time of my youth, today’s opportunities for socioeconomic advancement were nonexistent for black people. For all but a few, college attendance was out of the question because of finances and racial discrimination. If you were not admitted to the black colleges of Lincoln University or Cheyney State College, forget about college. I do not know of any student of my 1954 class at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High School who attended college. Though the quality of education at Benjamin Franklin is a mere shadow of its past, today roughly 17% of its graduating class has been admitted to college. The true hope for a youngster graduating from high school during the 1950s was a well-paying and steady job. My first well-paying job was as a taxi driver for Yellow Cab Company.
Younger black people today have no idea of and have not experienced the poverty and discrimination of earlier generations. Also, the problems today’s black people face have little or nothing to do with poverty and discrimination. Political hustlers like to blame poverty and racism while ignoring the fact that poverty and racism were much greater yesteryear but there was not nearly the same amount of chaos.
The out-of-wedlock birth rate among blacks in 1940 was about 11%; today, it is 75%. Black female-headed households were just 18% of households in 1950, as opposed to about 68% today. In fact, from 1890 to 1940, the black marriage rate was slightly higher than that of whites. Even during slavery, when marriage was forbidden, most black children lived in biological two-parent families. In New York City, in 1925, 85% of black households were two-parent households. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of black families were two-parent households.
There’s little protest against the horrible and dangerous conditions under which many poor and law-abiding black people must live. It is not uncommon for 50 black people to be shot over a weekend in Chicago — not by policemen but by other black people. About 7,300 black people are murdered each year, and not by white people or racist cops, but mostly by other black people. These numbers almost make our history of victimization by racist lynching look like child’s play.
The solutions to the many problems that black Americans face must come from within our black communities. They will not come from the political arena. Blacks hold high offices and dominate the politics in cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. Yet, these are the very cities with the nation’s worst-performing schools, highest crime rates, high illegitimacy rates, weak family structure and other forms of social pathology.
I am not saying that blacks having political power is the cause of these problems. What I am saying is that the solution to most of the major problems that confront black people will not be found in the political arena or by electing more blacks to high office.
One important step is for black Americans to stop being “useful tools” for the leftist, hate-America agenda. Many black problems are exacerbated by guilt-ridden white people. Often, they accept behavior and standards from black people that they would not begin to accept from white people. In that sense, white liberal guilt is a form of disrespect in their relationships with black Americans. By the same token, black people should stop exploiting the guilt of whites. Let us all keep in mind that history is one of those immutable facts of life.
Rest in Peace, Dr. Williams.