Pick a Better Country
By Ken Hamblin
Simon & Schuster
253 pp., $23
For years, black activists such as Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan have taken up the fight against injustice against African-Americans in the US.
Now, conservative radio talk-show host Ken Hamblin is adding his voice to the debate in his book, "Pick a Better Country." Much black oppression is self-inflicted, he says. He challenges his fellow African-Americans, as well as the white majority, to do the right thing by adopting traditional American values of love of family, hard work, and fair play.
Laziness and lack of moral values weigh down poverty-stricken black communities, while a guilt-driven white society not only accepts this lack of values, but also emphasizes its acceptability in the media, he writes. What needs to happen, Hamblin says, is an elimination of many government-funded programs that reinforce "the myth of the hobbled black."
Hamblin grew up in a single-parent family that was dependent on welfare. He succeeded, he says, because he was taught the fundamental principles of ethics and hard work. He was the first black photographer on the staff of the Detroit Free Press, and he continues his investigations into low-income areas.
For Hamblin, the American dream is accessible to all people even though racism exists. He attacks affirmative action because it detracts from employee self-worth and employer respect. "Either learn to participate in today's modern world as exemplified by mainstream America or you're out of the game," Hamblin writes.
He employs anecdotes to illustrate how interventionist government programs "hobble" blacks. But his book is short on practical solutions and examples, basically saying everyone should become fully vested voters, move to healthy communities, and develop self-esteem.
Though a provocative and brash author with years of relevant experience, he could have made the same points more concisely and less repetitively. Even the best pep talk at half-time doesn't replace the skill-building practices needed to win.
Debbie Hodges is on the Monitor staff.