Acton Institute Powerblog

King’s Dream: Beyond Black and White

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As the nation prepares to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 15, it’s time to broaden the discussion of race relations in America to include not just blacks and whites, but Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans. The long fixation on black-white relations has obscured some important measures of racial progress — or lack of it — in American society, argues Anthony Bradley. “In fact, the greatest impediment to appropriating King’s dream is our unwillingness to move beyond a white social barometer,” he says.

Read the complete commentary here.

Jonathan Spalink


  • C K Tang

    Mr. Bradley’s article could not be more true. We (regardless of race) should benchmark with the best.

    Let me offer a perhaps a limited perspective as to why Asians do better in schools and income wise(and I am going to confine it to the Chinese, and perhaps it is applicable to East Asians). And it is not just in the US, because I have seen the same, having lived in Europe, Asia and now in the US.

    1. Roots in Confucianism
    Two noteworthy and relevant teachings include the primacy of education and filial piety. I think there are very few Chinese families which do not emphasize the importance of education (and I will explain later the added impetus of being an overseas chinese as well). Most parents would sacrifice almost anything to see their children better educated than themselves. As an aside, I would not bet against my mother being able to balance the US budget when it comes to making budget cuts and trade-offs!!!

    Secondly, filial piety means among others taking care of family when they are old and no longer working. It was assumed that this is the role of the children or close relative and not (primarily) of the state.

    Needless to say, if one is going to support the extended family, one had better ensure that one has the necessary means. Hence the desire (or should I say, necessity) to better oneself economically.

    Biblically, this is consistent with Paul’s teaching that it is wrong not to provide for one’s own families, and Jesus’ criticism of those who did not do likewise on grounds that they were providing "Korban" money to the religious institution ( and not to mention the commandment of honoring one’s own parents).

    2. The Overseas Chinese Mentality
    I don’t know how far this applies to Chinese everywhere but my parents used to drum into my head, that "outside of China, we are second-class citizens. Therefore don’t think you are entitled to everything the locals (meaning the dominant race) are entitled to. If your "dominant race" friend (I shall not mention the race) scored one "A" in the exam, you should score three, if you hope to get into university. Let the authorities not have any excuse to reject your application on any grounds other than merit and they would have to be pretty creative to do that if you are three times better."

    Please don’t misunderstand me. My parents were not instigating hatred toward other races, they were merely recognizing a fact in many countries (apart from China) the Chinese may be at best a signifcant minority nor were they encouraging some form of patriotism towards China. We did not see ourselves any less than a citizen in the country where we live. And we are proud to be recognized as citizens of that country.

    This is by no means a "Chinese thing." If I recall correctly, an article in Newsweek reported that Condi Rice’s parents advised here in the same way about the importance of hard work, education and excellence.

    The point is what Mr. Bradley has said all along. Although I started on the basis of race, it really is a combination of other factors that account for the "success of the Asians." I would argue that the biblical worldview of recognizing who we are in God (imago-dei) provides the best basis for promoting dignity, liberty, and accountability. That we happen to be Chinese or Indian or Korean is really incidental.

  • Armando F. de Jesus

    There is a phenomonenon about oversees Filipinos about which we local Filipinos often wonder about. It is the fact that many Filipinos when they get to work in other lands, their work ethic and work performance surge many notches up compared to their work performance and ethic when they are home. Aside from the inherent cultural characteristics and background that characterize Asians of which C.K. Tang speaks about, there must be something about being in another country and culture that spurs Asians to perform better.

  • Gerald Baraza

    Thank you Bro. Bradley for writing on this vital subject. I agree with you on what you say and I even go ahead to add that the Black person has relied for far too long on Western, Asian and Arabic styles of leadership, excellence and achievement in many aspects of life and this has always worked to his detriment in many ways. To say the least, this mindset has undermined and will continue to chip away at the Black person’s schema for accomplishment and replenishment of her people’s lost glory.

    Pragmatic initiatives and huge amounts of strategic intervention like the writing and publishing of books and articles, holding of seminars and conferences aimed at bringing about an intense engagement of minds through which, lasting solutions can be found to the Black man’s leadership predicament all over the world are needed now more than ever. The Black people who find themselves in positions of influence will be judged harshly by history if they squander the opportunity that they have now to contribute to the restoration of the Black man’s lost achievements.

    The Black person has got to sit down and study the histories of the people groups that have succeeded and glean vital facts from their stories with the aim of contextualizing them. The Jews for example are a people who have gone through a lot yet they have come out victorious in many ways. A close study of the Jewish history will reveal to you that their spirituality, economics, education and culture have played a crucial role in propelling them to where they are today. The Jews do not spent lots of their energies, resources and time on self-pity and calls for equality. Instead they use the same in synagogues, laboratories, and economic ventures that enhance their survival and general well-being.

    The Black person, irrespective of where he is, has to discover the winning formula for advancing in life. It is a known fact that people with less education and little discipline, get poor jobs, make less money and perform much worse economically than their counterparts who are more educated and are disciplined in life. The Black person has no choice but to just go back to the basics. Let God take His place in their lives, give education the priority that it deserves, rediscover their communal instincts, and venture in vital areas of life that control economics. Determination, perseverance and sacrifices will be needed to achieve their goals.

    Thanks Bro. Anthony Bradley for pushing us to think!

    Bro. Gerald Baraza

    Director-Liberty Institute of Tanzania


    After reading your commentary i agree with you in totality and i may add that Africans tend to look for solutions outside there sphere forgeting that the savour is themselves changing there perception of live,their belief,and their relationship to God,environment and people around them.Like in kenya we wait for isrealite,Americans Britons to come to organise the rescue exercise when we have all the required manpower to do the job.We have decided to kill the present and we are busy killing the future.We better wake up and find solutions to our problems within ourselves.