I live in Fairfax County, Virginia, a prosperous suburb in the metropolitan Washington DC area. It is now springtime, which means that every Saturday my wife and I go down to Sandy Spring Park on the Occoquan River to watch our son row for Oakton High School. At every regatta, the grandstand is filled with families cheering their children and schools. We also cheer and encourage the stragglers to cross the finish line (as rowing is physically demanding). A good time is had by all … especially when the weather is nice.
Last Saturday, my son rowed during the morning session (he came in 5th place). Between the morning session (the eight-seat boats) and the afternoon session (the two/four-seat boats), there was a mad dash to leave the park. Unfortunately, timing was a bit off and the bus drivers appeared to be on break during the same time we were all trying to get back to the parking lot (which is about two miles from the park). No problem. We all had to wait for the buses, but the mood was generally festive.
Immediately in front of me was an elegant African-American family – dad, mom and children. They had come to the park to do the same thing my wife and I wanted to do, that is, celebrate our children’s performance at the regatta. We spoke together of jovial things, laughing, joking and enjoying each other’s company. It was evident that they had the same desires that we have, that is, to raise emotionally stable children that can provide for themselves and their families in the future. The fact that there were black Americans was absolutely irrelevant to anything. We were all Americans enjoying the benefits of American society. Life was good.
This brings me to two old men: Donald Sterling and Clive Bundy. The two men recently revealed their ignorance by making abhorrent remarks about blacks. They were legitimately criticized for saying such outrageous things. Bravo! I doubt that the statements made by these two idiots would have been so roundly rebuffed 50 years ago. I celebrate this progress.
We also recently received an opinion from the US Supreme Court that holds that states have the ability and right to determine when affirmative action preferences should end. The Court did not say they must end, but they did say that there is no requirement that they go on in perpetuity. Evidently, the Court has also seen progress in race relations in our society and has decided that the remedy that was so important 40 years ago was not intended to be an everlasting entitlement. I say bravo and I celebrate this decision.
None of this downplays the fact that there continues to exist impoverished black Americans, particularly in the inner cities. However, perhaps the reasons for this underclass status are societal and not racial. Men such as Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell and Ben Carson have argued that the great society policies of the last several decades have had the opposite effect intended; that is, these well-intentioned policies have prolonged and enhanced the poverty and have created an inescapable underclass. These men are routinely criticizes as “Uncle Toms” that have forgotten their race. Apparently, for some pundits, it is not possible to have contrary opinions if you are an African American. This I do not celebrate.
One of the greatest Americans of the last half-century was Martin Luther King, Jr. I constantly remember his immortal dream – of the day when children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. It would appear that we have made enormous strides in reaching that dream … and this I celebrate. I will celebrate even more when any American can state his or her opinion without anyone noticing the color of his or her skin.
Demetris Voudouris is a Fairfax, Virginia attorney practicing (because he is always striving to get it right) business and real estate law. He is a card carrying Libertarian who just wants to be left alone to strive for his dreams. He is distrustful of government and asserts that Hayek got it exactly right in The Road to Serfdom. He further understands that entrepreneurial capitalism creates mutual beneficial relationships that lay the groundwork for peace and prosperity.
Demetris is also significantly concerned about the United States of America he (and his generation) is leaving for the next generation. He dreams that his children will have the same opportunities to excel that he was provided.