HUD Secretary Attacks Black Victimhood
By Ronald Kessler
Alphonso Jackson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, says that black leaders like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Julian Bond are doing a disservice to blacks by perpetuating an ideology of victimhood. “They [black leaders] have created an industry,” Jackson, who is black, told NewsMax. “If we don’t become victims, they have no income. They have no podium.”
Rather than confronting real issues that face blacks, African-American leaders suggest that “it’s racism that’s stopping everything that we’re doing,” Jackson said. “They are in the business of making excuses,” he said.
“White folks have nothing to do with the fact that seven out of every 10 black children born in this country are born out of wedlock,” Jackson said. Nor do they have anything to do “with that fact that we have more black males in prison than we do in college.”
While racism still exists, “Young black kids are getting every opportunity that they need, just like every other kid,” Jackson said. “I think in 2006 to say that everything is the fault of our brothers and sisters of the lighter hue is ridiculous.”
Until blacks “begin to focus in on the serious problems that we have in our communities, and begin to try to solve those problems in the most positive manner that we can, we’re not helping ourselves,” Jackson said.
Welfare ‘Close to Stealing’
Jackson said he was reared in a segregated environment in Dallas. As a college freshman, he participated in a civil rights march in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965. As he stepped onto the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state troopers blocked his way and unleashed tear gas and dogs on the marchers.
But Jackson’s father Arthur Jackson told his son that everyone can succeed in America regardless of skin color. Even though he had been diagnosed with cancer and had virtually no income, his father refused to go on welfare or take food stamps. When necessary, his church helped out. “Never take anything that you didn’t earn,” his father told Alphonso. “That’s close to stealing.”
“I never went to school with my brothers and sisters of the lighter hue until I got off to college,” Jackson, a lawyer, said. “But I’m sitting here,” he said, referring to his cabinet position, which controls a budget of $32 billion a year. “And I’m sitting here because I believe that the American system might not be the panacea, but it’s the best system that I’ve ever been able to live in.”
Black Leaders Making Problems Worse
By characterizing blacks as victims, making excuses for them, and suggesting that they cannot advance themselves without reliance on the government, black leaders exacerbate the problems that blacks face and give them the tools to become “losers,” Jackson said. “I am not going to let the black leadership — the so-called leadership — of this country tell me that I am a victim,” he said. “I believe that if you work hard, strive to do the very best, things will work out for you.
[That] doesn’t mean you won’t have obstacles — you will. But we can’t keep living in an era that is bygone,” Jackson said. “We need to begin today to teach blacks that they can look in the mirror — and that they have the ability, once they look in that mirror, to achieve.”
In his book “Enough,” Fox News TV commentator Juan Williams pointed out that blacks who emigrate to America from Africa and the Caribbean are more successful than blacks born in the United States.
As outlined in an Oct. 20 NewsMax article, “Juan Williams Called Black Ann Coulter,” Williams attributed that to a self-defeating black culture of victimhood, one that says doing well in school is a cop-out and that the way to be successful is to come off as threatening.
Agreeing with Williams, Jackson said, “All you have to do is look at Miami’s Little Haiti. The average income of a Haitian in Miami is the same as his white counterpart. They work very hard. But they have not been conditioned that the government owes them something.” Jackson said Africans from such countries as Ghana, Nigeria, Gabon, and Senegal come to the United States. with “one attitude: that they’re going to get the very best education and make as much money as they can.”
When George Bush became president, he named Jackson deputy secretary and then secretary of HUD. Bush and his wife Laura got to know Jackson and his wife Marcia, a former teacher, when Jackson headed the Dallas Housing Authority. The two couples began to socialize, and their kids would go to the movies together.
Laura Bush invited Marcia to join her on the board of Child Protective Services Community Partners, which supports social workers. “She stood out as a person who wanted to bring a diverse face to Dallas,” Marcia Jackson told me for my book “Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady.”
“There are many whites who interact with blacks at work, but in their private lives, they don’t,” Marcia Jackson told me. “I think that says a lot about them as people.” Alphonso Jackson said Bush has demonstrated the same inclusiveness in his administration, appointing, for example, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell secretary of state.
The response of black leaders has been to say that Bush made the appointments to garner votes. That “does nothing to support the progress of black Americans, or to recognize how far we have come,” Jackson said.
Denying rumors that he is leaving HUD, Jackson said he is working with congressional leaders on legislation to simplify procedures so potential homeowners with poor credit records can more easily obtain mortgages insured by HUD’s Federal Housing Authority (FHA).
Minority Housing Initiatives
“One of the things we have found, especially when it comes to blacks and Hispanics, is that if we can get them in the home, they can sustain the monthly house note,” Jackson said. “The biggest problem has been getting them in there, because they have bad credit records. Also, many can’t make the down payment and closing costs.”
Jackson said he is encouraging those who build public housing to create complexes of low density townhouses rather than single buildings. “That’s why I like to use the housing authority in Atlanta as a model, just as in Dallas,” Jackson said. “They have 13 public housing complexes. They’ve created low density townhouses, and if you go to Dallas or Atlanta, you’ll see that the crime is down, education is up, people are working.”
Jackson is also working on changing rules under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) so settlement costs will be more understandable and estimates of costs given before closing are the actual prices charged.
RESPA was passed in response to disclosures in a 1972 Washington Post series of kickbacks among real estate brokers, lenders, builders, title attorneys, and title insurance companies.
Many of those practices have continued, often disguised. A builder, for example, may force a buyer to use a high-priced lending company owned by the builder. Jackson did not address whether rules will be tightened to try to eliminate these practices.
Besides helping new homeowners through the FHA program, HUD counsels people on how to buy their first home. Through the American Dream initiative, HUD even provides assistance in making a downpayment and paying closing costs to those who meet eligibility requirements.
These programs and the improving economy have meant that 70 percent of Americans now own homes, Jackson said. “For the first time, we have closed the gap that exists among white, black, and Hispanic Americans,” Jackson said. “Over 50 percent of black and Hispanic Americans own their own homes for the first time in this country.
Some of the people who never thought that they could own a home, they’re owning a home.” As an example, Jackson cited Donna Davis, who was able to buy her first home in New Orleans, and Essie Jackson, a maintenance person in HUD’s headquarters. Davis told Jackson, “You know, Mr. Secretary, I have a yard. And I have the thrill of measuring and shopping for curtains in my new home.”
More than two years ago, Essie Jackson asked the HUD secretary if he could help her buy a home. He got her enrolled in a counseling program. “She thought she would never be a homeowner,” Jackson said. “Today she is. She has a two-bedroom, 2 ½ bath condominium, and she’s planting flowers in her window. And she came and told us the story.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of NewsMax.com. Get his dispatches FREE sent you via e-mail. Click here now.