There is a myth deliberately spread among young black people in the inner city. It is that black population outnumbers white population not just in some big cities, but nationally. Young black people often believe that the US is like South Africa, with an over 80% black population and 9% white. Actual US population statistics, based on census data are often ignored, especially in cities where black population outnumbers the white. Thus, the myth prevails with the excuse that whites have created a myth of their own numbers.

I know of at least one urban public school teacher who was chastised for bringing this truth to her classes and another two who actually perpetuate the myth, presumably to build the self-esteem of black youth. But self-esteem is built on achievement, not lies, and anyone who buys those lies is inevitably doomed to crash when they realize the truth.

Black people comprise 12.6% of the population in the US, while whites comprise 72.4%. What does this mean? It means that blacks comprise a small minority of the population in the US. Does this mean that black people have no power because of this minority status? It does not, because there is an important corollary to collective population numbers. They have nothing to do with individual achievement.

Every person of every race is an individual, distinct and different from every other person. Every black person is distinctly different from every other black person. Their genetics, circumstances, parents and all the factors that distinguish them may be similar in some ways, but never in all ways. Most importantly, no two people share the same space, the same time and the same life. Every individual must live in his own space, in his own time and in his own life. People are not collective. Nor are they statistics.

Despite what nefarious Left Liberal and black skinned so-called leaders tell them, every black person is equal in rights and freedom to every other person, black, white, Asian, or any other ethnic minority. We are not a multicultural society. We are a society of individuals, each of whom brings his/her unique genetic makeup, heritage, and all the traits that make them individuals. Moreover, their experience is different. Aldous Huxley said, "Experience is not what happens to a man. It's what a man does with what happens to him." Genetics, upbringing and events are different for each and every person. It is what that person does with what he possesses that makes him a success or a failure.

But when young people are taught never to think of themselves as individuals, but only as parts of their collective, they do not develop the necessary initiative to go beyond those attitudes. Emphasis on the racist or prejudicial attitudes of others has convinced many black people that they can achieve nothing as a group until those attitudes are completely wiped out. They have been taught that yet more laws are passed to eradicate racism and prejudice. But state of mind cannot be dictated, and the passage of laws will not create success.

Lying about reality is a tactic to keep black people down and to treat them as a collective mass of votes, blindly supporting ruthless politicians and nefarious so-called leaders who know that without the lies, they would have no power. Truth sets people free and empowers them.

Racism and prejudice have always existed and will continue to exist. That is reality. But what people do despite them is what counts. Only individual and initiative creates success and, among black people, there are some stirring examples of what individual effort can accomplish. Thomas Sowell, Ward Connerly and Dr. Ben Carson, have strived ahead despite these obstacles to achieve success and status.

Frederick Douglass is the most striking example of what an individual black man achieved despite a level of race hatred and prejudice that black people today can only read about. The racism of the Construction bears no resemblance to attitudes of racism today. Frederick Douglass should be the greatest icon among black people. They should celebrate his journey and read his autobiographies, both of them, and sing songs to him. His birthday, more than Martin Luther King's, should be a national holiday, because what he achieved he did as a man and not as leader of a movement.

Yet many black students do not even know who he was, or, if they know his name, do not think of his achievements outside of the collective narrative that has been foisted upon them! The antidote to racism, which is a collective concept, is not to wait for attitudes to change or pass laws, but to educate black students that their potential lies in each of them as individuals, just as it did with Frederick Douglas.

Colin Powell became a General and Joint Chief of Staff. He and Condoleezza Rice were Secretaries of State. They did not achieve those great things as "a people." They did those things as individuals, proving beyond doubt what individuals can do with application, education, intelligence and hard work. Condoleezza Rice recounted words of hope from her mother that describe perfectly the attitude of an optimist who believed in her daughter as an individual. She said, "You may not be able to eat lunch at Woolworth's, but you can become President of the United States." This is not a myth. It is the truth, and there is no more moving speech one could give to a daughter or son to demonstrate the point.

In the memorable film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," Sidney Poitier, as a young doctor, famously says to his father, "You think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man." This is the key. The attitude that must change is among black people themselves, who must stop thinking of themselves as a people and begin thinking of themselves as persons. They must stop considering their skin color as a set of chains. In America, there are no chains, not really, and if one flexes the muscles of his honest potential, skin color will never be the deciding factor of achievement.

I'm not black. I am an American of Italian stock, raised in Massachusetts in the 40s and 50s, in a town where racism was almost nonexistent. I went to public school with black kids and had them visiting my house. I don't know quite why, but we simply did not think of skin color as a particularly dominant factor in our relations. To some, it may seem officious of me to say all the things I've said in this article, but they are my honest observations. Unlike many for whom they are a cliché, I actually take Martin Luther King's words seriously. People should be judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. But only when people break out of their own stereotypes will other people drop those stereotypes and recognize them as persons.

Trust me on this. Take it to the bank. Waiting out seismic changes in societal attitudes is futile, while acting despite them is positive. In fact, it is the only hope of reigniting the flame of the American Dream, not just for black people, but for all people.

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