Three New Books Challenge Preconceived Notions of Race

The Brother From Another Planet is a low-budget sci-fi comedy that was released in 1984. It tells the story of an alien who crashes his spaceship on Ellis Island and spends the next few days roaming Manhattan. He looks like a regular black guy and can understand what people are saying, but he can’t speak. This causes everyone he meets to make assumptions about him – where he lives, why he is there, what he wants – based on appearances. It’s all speculation based on preconceived notions.

I do quite a lot of public speaking and sometimes I get asked about my personal background. People want to know how I’ve been doing, but I’m not always sure what they’re getting at. How did I become conservative? Why do I speak Standard English? How did I get out of prison? The inquiry is often made in a tone that suggests I’ve somehow defied expectations, that I haven’t become what people who look like me usually look like. It’s almost like I’m from another world.

The reality is that most, if not most, Black people share most of the views expressed in this column each week. A majority of blacks tell pollsters they support school choice and voter ID requirements and oppose racial preferences. Media outlets typically turn to social activists, far-left academics, liberal journalists and progressive politicians for comment on such matters, but the views of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ibram X. Kendi and Nikole Hannah-Jones often conflict with those the average black person.

Moreover, this long-standing disagreement has, if anything, widened. One of today’s most prominent activist organizations, Black Lives Matter, has advocated taking the pressure off the police force, while polls have shown that over 80% of Black people want the level of policing in their communities to remain the same or increase.

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In “The State of Black America,” a new collection of essays edited by William B. Allen, professor emeritus of political philosophy at Michigan State University, Mr. Allen writes that it is not only wrong, but counterproductive, when the media gives the final say on social inequality to black elites who trade in racial resentment and identity politics. “The civil rights movement has perhaps inadvertently created the most serious impediment to black American progress in our time,” he writes in his own essay. “Black leaders have turned to group identity rather than individual identity and to American principles of assimilation. The result has been cultural stagnation for some black communities.”

Elsewhere in this volume, Brown University economics professor Glenn Loury challenges the left’s view that racism is the main explanation for this cultural underdevelopment. “The ‘structural racism’ argument rarely addresses cause and effect,” he writes. “We should all just know that it is the fault of something called ‘structural racism,’ fostered by an environment of ‘white supremacy’ that supposedly characterizes our society. Any racial inequality can thus be fully explained by the insinuation of “structural racism”. ”

Mr. Allen’s is one of several new books that present alternative ways of thinking about racial inequality that get little press coverage and suggest that black thinking on social policy is near-monolithic. In Agency, Ian Rowe of the American Enterprise Institute argues that the way out of poverty is no longer government redistribution of wealth, but more focus on family structure and the so-called success sequence: graduate high school, find work, get married, and then have kids, in this order.

Finally, my Manhattan Institute colleague, Rafael Mangual, has just authored Criminal (In)justice, a lucid assessment of the awakened ideas—defunding the police, emptying prisons—that have won over so many politicians and policymakers who have little interest in them show how this is happening Proposals will affect law-abiding, low-income residents of minority communities. Presented in the tradition of scholars like James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, who did not let emotion or fads interfere with their empirical reasoning, Mr. Mangual follows the evidence to its logical conclusion, even when that conclusion is politically incorrect.

Discussing the widespread belief that poverty is a “root cause” of crime is instructive. Mr. Mangual reports that homicides in New York City fell from more than 2,220 to fewer than 300 between 1990 and 2018, a period during which the city’s poverty rate rose slightly. Even during the Great Recession of 2007-09, which hit New York particularly hard, crime continued to decline. Between 2006 and 2009, the unemployment rate for black men, who are the city’s top homicide victims and perpetrators, nearly doubled, but homicides and other violent crimes fell significantly.

These kinds of observations deserve much more attention and debate than they usually get in the traditional media, where independent thinkers like Messrs. Allen, Loury, Rowe and Mangual are misleadingly treated as off-planet brothers.

Biden is demanding billions for law enforcement as cops flee the job.

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