There’s a significant split in the black community between those who wish to focus on historical injustice and those who feel that a continuing focus on victimhood does the black community no favors.
Jason Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, is black, and he is determined to impart to blacks that their success is not being impeded by systemic racism. That precipitated protests from black groups at two Colorado universities where he recently spoke; the University of Denver and the University of Colorado-Boulder.
As Michael Jones reports for The College Fix, black law students at both universities were disgruntled by Riley’s speeches, which he titled, “False Black Power? The Persistence of Racial Disparities Despite Increased Black Political Clout,” and were organized by the Federalist Societies.
One description of Riley’s event at the University of Colorado-Boulder read, “So long as blacks are encouraged to neglect the cultural capital that has so successfully powered upward mobility among other minorities, no number of elected African-American officials or special treatment will help blacks catch up.”
According to the CU Independent, CU’s Black Law Students’ Association released an email in which they stated:
Mr. Riley opines that liberalism “has also succeeded, tragically, in convincing blacks to see themselves, first and foremost, as victims. Today there is no greater impediment than the self-pitying mindset that permeates black culture.” Well, we take great offense to that statement. The United States’ tainted legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, the school-to-prison pipeline has left the black population of this country in a disenfranchised, and problematic position. We do not pity ourselves, we are not bleeding hearts—but we refuse to speak about blackness and/or black power without a thorough acknowledgment of the injustice blacks have suffered in this country.
When he spoke at CU, Riley reportedly stated, “We can’t keep blaming white people for black problems. They must learn to do things for themselves.” Some students in the audience wore all black as a “silent protest.”
At the University of Denver, a number of protesters walked out when Riley spoke, bringing to fruition a warning from the Black Law Students’ Association which had emailed, “The Federalist Society is sponsoring an event called ‘False Black Power?’ This is highly problematic and BLSA has decided not to let this go unaddressed.”
Jonathan Miceli, president of the Federalist Society at the University of Denver, said Riley’s speech engendered some protesters to ask questions during the Q&A, but the protesters were simply not interested in hearing Riley’s viewpoint. He told The Fix, “I was happy about the turnout, but I don’t feel I accomplished much. The protesters didn’t seem to listen.”