We blacks know oppression well, but today it is our inexperience with freedom that holds us back almost as relentlessly as oppression once did. Out of this inexperience, for example, we miss the fact that racial preferences and disparate impact can only help us — even if they were effective — with a problem we no longer have. The problem that black firefighters had in New Haven was not discrimination; it was the fact that not a single black did well enough on the exam to gain promotion.
Today’s “black” problem is underdevelopment, not discrimination. Success in modernity will demand profound cultural changes — changes in child-rearing, a restoration of marriage and family, a focus on academic rigor, a greater appreciation of entrepreneurialism and an embrace of individual development as the best road to group development.
Whites are embarrassed to speak forthrightly about black underdevelopment, and blacks are too proud to openly explore it for all to see. So, by unspoken agreement, we discuss black underdevelopment in a language of discrimination and injustice.