LET’S STOP PATRONIZING WITH HOLLOW LEGISLATION

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Black History Month ignores the real issues

By REP. SHARON JACKSON
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

This week, after thoughtful consideration, I have withdrawn my support for House Bill 72, a
bill that would make Black History Month permanent in Alaska. As the only African-American
in the Alaska House of Representatives, I want you to understand why I felt compelled to do
this.

February is Black History Month in the U.S. Since 1976, every U.S. president has
acknowledged the contributions of African-Americans to the fabric of our nation. Yet, despite
the shiny facade of cultural awareness, the black community remains as impoverished,
divided and oppressed as ever. Our problems are almost never addressed head-on, yet we
continue pledging our loyalty to any politician who happens to say a few nice words about us.
We cannot continue to be blinded by the fact that a legislative body celebrating the existence
of black people doesn’t solve any of our problems.

Those who know me best know that I always tell it like it is, so here it goes: I’m not going to
support any more empty efforts aimed at appeasing the black community. I don’t want
platitudes. I want real policy solutions.

I’m tired of watching politicians – usually of other ethnicities – act like they care about the
black community by passing feel-good bills, and then avoid answering the tough, painful,
uncomfortable questions that challenge the black community. That isn’t empowerment.
I’m tired of watching programs like affirmative action in schools or businesses that allow in
only enough black people to meet a quota and throw away the rest. That isn’t empowerment.
I’m tired of being told that “Black Lives Matter,” only to watch governments spend millions of
Medicaid dollars each year to pay for the termination of black lives in the womb. That isn’t
empowerment.

Having Black History Month doesn’t change any of these things. In fact, I would argue that it
condones them. Our country does need to have a conversation about race, but not the one
the mainstream media is force-feeding us.

Let’s answer these questions instead: How can we expect black children to grow up and be
successful or empowered when only 45 percent of them have a father in the home to help
teach them right from wrong? How can we talk about the disproportionate numbers of black
men in prison before we acknowledge that they’ve been left to a life of addiction through
drugs and alcohol? Society isn’t corrupted for imprisoning high numbers of black men and
women – it’s corrupted for enabling so many disadvantaged people with welfare checks to
remain addicted and hopeless for their entire life preceding arrest.

These are real questions that need real answers – not redundant recognitions of black
existence. Rather than spending resources to keep people down, we should be investing to
lift them up.

I’m not going to stand here and allow anyone else to patronize African-Americans and
promote the terrible idea we are all victims. Good intentions pave the way to nowhere. The
underlying issues must be addressed, and we, the Legislature, must have the courage and
fortitude to face them.

Sharon Jackson is a U.S. armed forces veteran and serves District 13 in the Alaska House of
Representatives.

Taken from https://mustreadalaska.com/black-history-month-ignores-the-real-issues/