There’s a historical tidbit that those much younger than I (almost 83 years old) are ignorant of. In black history, we have been called — and called ourselves — several different names. Among the more respectable have been “colored,” “Negro,” “black,” “Afro-American” and “African-American.” I recall when Mrs. Viola Meekins, when I was a student at Stoddart-Fleisher Junior High School in the late 1940s, had our class go page by page through a textbook and correct each instance in which Negro was printed with a lowercase “n.” In Malcolm X’s day, and mine, Negro was a proud name and not used derisively by blacks as it is today.
Malcolm X was absolutely right about our finding solutions to our own problems. The most devastating problems that black people face today have absolutely nothing to do with our history of slavery and discrimination. Chief among them is the breakdown of the black family, wherein 75 percent of blacks are born to single, often young, mothers. In some cities and neighborhoods, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births is over 80. Actually, “breakdown” is the wrong term; the black family doesn’t form in the first place. This is entirely new among blacks.