Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

About This ‘National Conversation on Race’ Thing


On his Chronicle of Higher Education blog, John L. Jackson Jr. says he kind of agrees with our own Jonah Goldberg’s lament that liberals don’t really want the honest conversation about race that they say they do.  

I certainly agree with Jonah and Professor Ford on that point, but it also seems to me that, with regard to a national racial conversation generally, there’s really not much to discuss.

1. Yes, America has a long, sad history of racial discrimination, and its effects are still with us. The past is never really past and all that. No one disputes this, and it should be part of the history that we teach. Moreover, some discrimination still exists — will always exist, with some victims from every racial group — and we should continue to enforce the laws we have against it.

2. But there’s no point in obsessing over it, and our recent history is celebratory: The good guys won, and we have made enormous progress. Anyone who says that discrimination has not diminished, but only disguised itself better or some such nonsense, is delusional.

3. The principal problem facing African Americans today is not about discrimination but about culture, and in particular the fact that 7 out of 10 of them are born out of wedlock. Raising children successfully is a lot easier with two parents (and both of them need to disabuse their children of any notion that studying and working hard are “acting white” and similar rubbish). Bill Cosby is right, and Barack and Michelle Obama are role models.

4. In an increasingly multiethnic and multiracial society, we cannot have a legal regime that sorts people according to skin color and national origin and treats some people better and others worse depending on which box they check. The government cannot treat different groups differently, and it cannot have one set of private-sector antidiscrimination laws protecting some groups and another set of prohibitions when there is discrimination against other groups.

Now, really, who can reasonably deny any of that and what else is there to say? One last thing: In my view, most Americans of all colors do in their hearts agree with all this, and that’s why race relations in the United States are really just fine, thanks very much.


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