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False Black Power

Wednesday June 2017


Jason Riley Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

Black civil-rights leaders have long supported ethnic-identity politics and prioritized the integration of political institutions. Recent decades have seemingly validated this strategy, as a wave of black politicians have swept into office, culminating in the presidency of Barack Obama.

Yet rising black political power has done little to lift up the great majority of African Americans: large gaps between blacks and whites—in employment, income, home ownership, academic achievement, incarceration, and many other measures—persist and, in some cases, have widened.

As other racial and ethnic groups in America prioritize economic advancement, the continued focus on political capital for African Americans is a serious mistake, argues MI senior fellow Jason Riley in False Black Power?. So long as blacks are encouraged to neglect the cultural capital that has so successfully powered upward mobility among other minorities, says Riley, no number of elected African-American officials or special treatment will help blacks catch up.

Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and a commentator for Fox News. He is the author of Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders (2008) and Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (2014).