I agree TA. The media is largely to blame for perpetuating negative sterotypes of blacks.
However, in keeping with your belief in 'personal responsibility', it's up to people to question that media portrayal and consider the fact that they are being fed a fallacy and swallowing it with little difficulty.
You see, there exists a sad double standard among Americans. They're more than happy to see a black criminal on the nightly news and without a second thought, then label all blacks as criminals...however when a white serial killer gets caught, they don't label all whites as serial killers. Or when a pedophile gets caught they don't label all whites as pedophiles. Or when a cult leader gets taken out, they don't label all whites as crazy cult leaders. And let's face it; the majority of serial killers, pedophiles, and cult leaders are whites.
Americans by and large are an extremely ignorant breed and nowhere is that more obvious than with the racial history of this country. "All Men Are Created Equal..."...yeah, except blacks, latinos, women, gays, Jews, etc...The first 28 presidents voted on solely by white men, the next 8 by white men and women, and finally the last 8 actually voted on by all persons regardless of race or sex.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, has to do with race nowadays, in the eyes of white America writ large. But the obvious question is this: if we have never seen racism as a real problem, contemporary to the time in which the charges are being made, and if in all generations past we were obviously wrong to the point of mass delusion in thinking this way, what should lead us to conclude that now, at long last, we've become any more astute at discerning social reality than we were before? Why should we trust our own perceptions or instincts on the matter, when we have run up such an amazingly bad track record as observers of the world in which we live?
In every era, black folks said they were the victims of racism and they were right. In every era, whites have said the problem was exaggerated, and we have been wrong.
But that's the problem: most whites do nothing in the face of racism. Most of us don't speak up, don't talk back, don't challenge family, friends, colleagues, or anyone else when they engage in racist actions or merely tell racist jokes. We sit back and remain largely silent, or condemn but only with caveats included. No wonder black leaders like Jackson and Sharpton end up being the visible faces of resistance: whites aren't showing up at all, so what are they supposed to do?
At the end of the day, it is white silence and collaboration that has always made racism, whether of the personal or institutional type, possible. If whites had, in larger numbers, joined with folks of color to challenge white supremacy, there is no way that such a system could have been maintained. There is no way that racist persons would be able to spew their venom without fear of reprisal, in most cases. They would know that such verbiage, or racist actions would be met forcefully, and that those engaging in such things would be ostracized. But white silence and inaction has given strength to the racists, whether on radio or in corporate offices, or government positions, or police uniforms; it has emboldened them to act out, since they have long had little reason to believe anything would happen. Slaveowners would have been powerless had the whites who didn't own slaves stood up to them and challenged their evil; so too with segregationists, those who lynched thousands of blacks from the late 1800s to the early 60s, and those who engage in discrimination today. The silent and passive collaborators with injustice are just as bad as those who do the deed, and have always been such. And too often, those folks have been us
Only when whites decide to connect with the alternative tradition of resistance, as opposed to collaboration, will things change. Only when we choose to take our place in the line--however much longer it should be--of antiracist white allies, will we be in a position to lecture folks of color on how they come at the issue. And even then, we'll have far more to learn than to teach in that regard. But until that time, and for however long white folks decide to remain on the sidelines in the struggle, our entitlement to say much of anything sideways to the Jacksons or Sharptons of the world will remain virtually non-existent. Pay some dues, and then maybe you can talk. Until then, shut it down. (Tim Wise)