The NAACP Debate

A New Lecture: “Anti-Black Discrimination in the Age of Obama” by Dr. Algernon Austin

The simplistic idea that impoverished African Americans have only themselves to blame for their poverty, due to their poor cultural values—a notion advanced by many, including black public figures such as Bill Cosby—is believable only if a blind eye is turned to those inconvenient things social scientists like to call “facts.” Algernon Austin soundly refutes the “culture of poverty” argument by paying careful attention to marco-economic data about long-term poverty trends and sociological case studies about persistent discrimination. In other words, unlike the glib punditry, Austin actually looks at the “facts.”
--Dr. Andrew Hartman, professor and audience member, Illinois State University

Contact Dr. Austin to arrange a speaking engagement.

[In recent years, the belief that blacks are suffering from an epidemic of bad values and the rise of post-racialism has caused people to question the point and purpose of the NAACP and the need for black civil rights activism generally. People making these arguments, of course, haven't read Getting It Wrong to learn that there are only false racial stereotypes behind the cultural claims, and they are also ignorant of the ample evidence of persistent institutional racial discrimination like the fact that America's schools are still separate and unequal. Below is the recent debate in the Washington Post.]

Why We Should Get Rid of the NAACP

By Jonetta Rose Barras
Sunday, April 19, 2009

Watching the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's annual Image Awards in February, I found myself asking the question I always ask: Why, in an age of integration, do blacks still need our own Oscar-like program to honor "the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts"? Come to think of it, why do we even need the NAACP?

The organization is as anachronistic as colored-only water fountains and white-only bathrooms. Its racial focus perpetuates the evils it claims it wants to eradicate, and its audiovisual rendering of America as "them vs. us" abets the nation's balkanization.

Complete statement.

Why an NAACP? Because Racial Inequality Remains

Monday, April 27, 2009
By Julian Bond and Benjamin Todd Jealous

We look forward to when we can agree with why we should get rid of the NAACP ["Ten Things We Should Toss," Outlook, April 19], but unfortunately that day has not come.

The unemployment rate for blacks remains twice that for whites. Yet studies reveal that there is no variable -- neither education, test scores nor experience -- that provides a scientific rationale. In two studies, white employers preferred white males with criminal backgrounds to equally qualified African American men without them. Take any indicator, and a portrait of racial inequality is painted.

Complete letter.

Why We Still Need the NAACP

Friday, May 22, 2009
By Charles J. Ogletree Jr.

In her April 19 contribution to the Outlook feature "10 Things We Should Toss," Jonetta Barras asked: "Why do we even need the NAACP?" Let me count the ways.

Despite her claim that we are "in an age of integration," most African Americans live in segregated communities. The average black child attends a school that is racially segregated and where more than half the students are poor. Blacks make up 13 percent of our nation's population but 40 percent of the prison population, in part because of gross disparities between sentencing for crack and powder cocaine possession.

In 2001, the average black male worker earned 72 cents to every dollar earned by a white male. African Americans have a lower life expectancy than whites, are more likely to be uninsured and are less likely to be treated aggressively for illnesses. Although the Voting Rights Act is now more than 40 years old, public officials still shamelessly attempt to suppress the African American vote during every election cycle.

Complete letter.

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--Algernon Austin, Ph.D.