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October 26, 2005

The age of white guilt: and the disappearance of the black individual

From the Center for Individual Rights...

By Shelby Steele
Harper's Magazine, November 30, 1999

...it is worth noting here that never in my life have I met a true Uncle Tom, a black who identifies with white racism as a truth. The Negro world of that era believed that whites used our race against our individuality and, thus, our humanity. There was no embrace of a Negro identity, because that would have weakened the argument for our humanity. "Negroness" or "blackness" would have collaborated with the racist lie that we were different and, thus, would have been true Uncle Tomism. To the contrary, there was an embrace of the individual and assimilation....

Here is a brief litany of obvious truths that have been resisted in the public discourse of black America over the last thirty years: a group is no stronger than its individuals; when individuals transform themselves they transform the group; the freer the individual, the stronger the group; social responsibility begins in individual responsibility. Add to this an indisputable fact that has also been unmentionable: that American greatness has a lot to do with a culturally ingrained individualism, with the respect and freedom historically granted individuals to pursue their happiness--this despite many egregious lapses and an outright commitment to the oppression of black individuals for centuries. And there is one last obvious but unassimilated fact: ethnic groups that have asked a lot from their individuals have done exceptionally well in America even while enduring discrimination.

Posted by Danny Carlton at October 26, 2005 07:35 AM

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