Common Sense Progressive and “Out of America”

“In countries where people are free, people are not ‘equal.’ In countries where everyone is ‘equal,’ people are not free.” –

The young black man described himself as a “common sense progressive.” I would have never noticed his profile in the social media, had it not been for his unreasonable defense of another rich and successful black man, a football player, who chose to ignore our National Anthem under the absurd race-baiting excuse that he was taking a stance against imagined racial and police oppression in America.
To call this young man delusional and indoctrinated into progressivism by his expensive public school education in America is an understatement. Since he has never lived in any stifling communist paradise he yearns for, this young man is in no position to understand that common sense was in short supply or non-existent in communist countries. Associating “common sense” and “progressivism” is oxymoronic or delusional at best.
I asked him how he arrived at such silly description of an ideology that killed my father and 100 million other people who lived and toiled under communism as subsistence drones who were truly oppressed. His inadequate explanation was that we came from “different worlds and different experiences.”
It was counterproductive to explain to this confused young man that United States is the best and the most tolerant place in the world to live. The identical talking points about modern oppression, which are repeated ad nauseam by famous and infamous talking heads, are manufactured by the profitable race baiting industry that conveniently ignores and turns a blind eye to the real oppression occurring around the world.
Ensnared by the racial division rhetoric constantly coming from this administration and the media, this young man believes that the Black Lives Matter movement is a lofty endeavor and not a paid organization supported by left wing groups to promote violence and social unrest. To this young man, the much maligned police and the military are the enemy and the oppressor, not the Thin Blue Line between anarchists and the rule of law.
He probably studied revisionist history in his classes and skipped the part about the Soviet Union’s KGB, German Democratic Republic’s Stasi, and Hitler’s Gestapo, examples of real oppression against religious groups, ethnic groups, and innocents who held divergent opinions.
I was confused when black people started calling themselves African-Americans. Most of them were many generations removed from their African ancestors and have never been to Africa, yet the fascination and the draw to identify with people from a continent away who happen to share their skin color is powerful. And what about white people from South Africa who immigrated here? Are they allowed to call themselves African Americans?
The rest of us call ourselves Americans and it would be nice if someday everyone would be identified or self-identify as just Americans. But the division lobby is very powerful, how else can they control the narrative and power if they don’t keep voters, citizens, and students divided along racial and ethnic lines?
I suppose we cannot understand who we are if we cannot understand how we were created and where we came from, what shaped us into who we are today. It is important to know and understand what made each of us unique.
I can attest to the feelings of confusion even when we are actually born in a far-away place and go back decades later to revisit our roots and where we grew up, only to find ourselves strangers in our own lands because, while we were pining for our lost youth and roots, the place of our birth had changed and people had moved on, we could no longer recognize what we remembered. But identifying with a place you had never set foot on, whose culture, customs, and language you did not understand, is quite puzzling.
Recently I read about the journey of a successful black man, Keith B. Richburg, who actually went to Africa to find his African roots, to see where his ancestors were sold and bought from four centuries ago.
Shelby Steele, writing in praise of Richburg’s book, Out of America, A Black Man Confronts Africa, said:
“Black America has always imagined Africa like the adopted child imagines the birthparent. The dream is that Africa holds a truth for us. Keith Richburg marches through that dream and finds that he was an American all along.”
Richburg went to Africa as a journalist in 1991-1994 and reported on “the famine and anarchy in Somalia, genocide in Rwanda, the Liberian ‘wackiest, ruthless, and uncivil war,’ and the failing state of Zaire.” (p. 134)
He wanted to identify with Africa but instead, as Newsweek wrote, he bitterly repudiated Afrocentrism. “As a black American returning to the land of his ancestors, he filters all he sees through the prism of his racial identity. Instead of empathy he feels only a deepening sense of estrangement.”
Richburg wrote, “I was thankful to have been born in America, where even for a black man, a descendant of slaves, anything and everything was possible.”
Returning to Africa in 2006, Richburg found Somalia “as depressing as when I first visited there in 1991.” When he reported on Zimbabwe in his book, it “had growth rates, high literacy, and the ability to feed itself.” But the 2006 Zimbabwe was an abysmal place. Mugabe had destroyed the middle class, ruining the formerly prosperous African country, causing half of its 12 million citizens to be dependent on international food aid. Inflation was running at “200 million percent,” epidemics flared up, and there was no water, sanitation, health care, and schools, the basics offered by a properly functioning society.
Having watched the “… dead float down a river in Tanzania,” having come close to being killed in Somalia and ignored by American soldiers driving by who could have saved him from a dangerous situation when he waved his press credentials and passport, scared in the realization that they only saw a man who looked like a potential Somali murderer, Richburg thanks God today that he is an American. As a black man in Somalia, he “was constantly at risk.” (pp. 84-85)
Richburg watched his journalist friends die at the hands of warlords in Somalia, victims of the very population they tried to help when they brought the plight of Somalis on camera, for the world to see. Hopes were quickly dashed, he said, that “Africa might become the testing ground for the New World Order.”
South Africa’s “racial groupthink” helped him realize that everyone was defined and categorized according to the color of their skin. Although growing up as a “black kid in a white country,” he avoided being defined by the color of his skin and believed Martin Luther King’s vision of a man being defined by the content of his character. Richburg avoided the label “black reporter,” he preferred “good reporter.” Yet he found out that various African dictators suggested that, “as a black reporter, I was supposed to report more favorably on them.” (p. 195)
He wrote in foreword that, seeing “a black man, the son of a Kenyan exchange student and a white woman from Kansas, as president of the United States and the most powerful person in the world, I feel that, whatever the cynics said, the faith I put in this country has been more than vindicated.”
Out of America ends on an upbeat note. People may think of Richburg as an Africa hater, racist, or even a “self-hating man who has forgotten his African roots.” Can we forget something we never really knew in the first place? He is grateful to have been born a black man in America. … “Everything I am today – my culture and attitudes, my sensibilities, loves, and desires – derives from that one simple and irrefutable truth.” At the end of the day, we are not hyphenated, we are all Americans. The people of Baton Rouge have shown the world a united American front of brotherhood, courage, and dignity.

One thought on “Common Sense Progressive and “Out of America”

  1. Very well done! I remind people of the community spirit of Baton Rouge and cajun navy. who i feel should been recognized by the governor and at least present- a medal for their efforts – for the ones that heard the distressed cry of their neighbors.

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