News and Commentary

Civil Rights Veteran Shelby Steele: The Idea Of ‘Systemic Racism’ Is A ‘Corruption,’ Blacks ‘Have Never Been Less Oppressed’ In America
Portrait of American author Shelby Steele, California, 1990s.
Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Speaking with Fox News’ Mark Levin on “Life, Liberty and Levin”on Sunday, civil rights veteran Shelby Steele, the author of “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era” and “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country,” ripped  of the claim that America is plagued by “systemic racism.” He stated, “That’s a corruption; it’s a corruption because the truth of the matter is, blacks have never been less oppressed than they are today. Opportunity is around every corner.”

Levin prompted, “You see what’s taking place in cities, mostly Democrat, one-party cities, mostly Democrat one-party states, and yet you see the response from the national Democrats: Biden, Schumer and Pelosi who barely acknowledge the rioting and the looting that’s taking place. You see the media that report that most of this is peaceful, and you see the allegation: ‘systemic racism.’ Is this a civil rights movement? Who’s leading this civil rights movement and exactly what is desired out of this civil rights movement? That’s a lot, so I want to throw it to you, Shelby.”

Steele responded, “Well, that’s a good question. One of the questions since the beginning of all this has been, What do they want? What is the point of all this? I remember when I was growing up in the civil rights movement and so forth, everybody knew exactly what we wanted: often a piece of legislation, a civil rights bill or something else that was specific or concrete. This insurrection just sort of seems unclear, unmotivated by anything that it says itself. So what is it really about it seems to me is the question. I think what is really happening is nothing really new. The civil rights argument that triggered this, that there was police abuse and so forth, very familiar story, saw that in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere, it seems to me that in many ways it’s about power.”

He continued by saying of George Floyd’s death, “Well, wow, the excitement  that that triggers on the Left in America; it validates their claims that America is a wretched country, that they must get recourse .. it feeds this old model of operation that we’ve developed that America is guilty of racism, guilty of this sin and has been for four centuries and minorities are victims who are entitled. And so when people start to talk about systemic racism built into the system, what they’re really doing is expanding the territory of entitlement: We want more; we want more; we want the society to give us more to help us. Society is responsible for us because racism is so systemic. Well, that’s a corruption; it’s a corruption because the truth of the matter is, blacks have never been less oppressed than they are today. Opportunity is around every corner.”

He continued, “In all of this, no one ever stops to say, ‘Well, you’re unhappy about where minorities are at in American life, and blacks continue to be at the bottom of most socio-economic measures; you’re unhappy about that? Well, why don’t you take some responsibility for it? Why don’t you take more responsibility?’”

He added, “I would be happy to look at all the usual bad guys, the police and so forth, if we had the nerve, the courage, to look at black people, to look at black Americans, minority Americans, and say, ‘You’re not carrying your own weight. You’re going to have a fit and a tantrum and demonstrate and so forth and yet you’re not doing — are you teaching your child to read? Are you making sure that the school down the street actually educates your child? Are you becoming educated and following a dream in life and making things happen for yourself? Or are you saying I’m a victim and I’m owed and the entitlement is inadequate.’”

The Daily Wire, headed by bestselling author and popular podcast host Ben Shapiro, is a leading provider of conservative news, cutting through the mainstream media’s rhetoric to provide readers the most important, relevant, and engaging stories of the day. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.