Shelby Steele and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan remain the two individuals who have struggled with the ‘African American Problem’ as both Nixon and Moynihan termed it. Fearing that 1960’s race riots would undermine the gains of the Civil Rights movement, the task of making sense of intractable African American poverty fell to Moynihan. Dr. Shelby Steele of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California is the last remaining credible intellectual to engage this topic sincerely. Don’t worry though, his writings are politely ignored by the tenured radicals that are ensconced throughout American academia.
Any sincere look at poverty and its relation to African American’s must engage the primary sources that prolong dependency and manufactured identity. ‘Keeping it Real’ is the moniker to the false idea that African American individuals must constantly measure themselves against standards of racial authenticity set by others. Rap and Hip Hop offer a glamorizing ideal with devastating consequences! But only Steele and Moynihan are brave enough to wade into this politicized agenda. Urban music offers the most narrow and compressed idea of black identity imaginable. The most toxic is the notion that the ghetto is the center of authentic black reality. This is the force, the compulsion to dependency and manufactured identity that aggressively patrols the walls and space of ‘Keeping It Real’. It is this pernicious influence of urban music that must be confronted if blacks are ever going to make their great escape.
Can we ever admit that crack is responsible for the hip-hop movement. Hip-hop was created thanks to the conditions of crack: easy money, available work and violence. What else can claim the source for our rugged, violent, psychotic, chaotic apocalyptic backdrop that ruins that lives of so many promising young men and women.
William F. Buckley Jr. wrote that “the principle responsibility of the thinking man is to make distinctions.” Both Moynihan and Steele continue to evaluate American realities that are ignored by so many.