A man sits against a wall
Erin Reidy/Flickr

I was watching the “Melissa Harris-Perry” show on MSNBC. The segment aired a while back but it has stuck in my mind. It was called “Why Americans Hate Welfare” and as the show progressed, one of her guests suggested that the welfare system needed to change.

Harris-Perry became enraged. She started hyperventilating and accused her guest of being a racist.

When the show ended I was disgusted. Who appointed the Harris-Perrys, Michael Eric Dysons and the Al Sharptons as representatives for black America? Whenever there is a welfare controversy, these poverty pimps come out accusing all who challenge the system of being Uncle Toms or racists.

When folks like Ben Carson, Bill Cosby and J.C. Watts preach self-help as an alternative to public assistance, the MSNBC crowd goes into full defense rebutting anyone who says work your way out of poverty.

Even moderates such as Colin Powell and Michael Steele, are considered turncoats and race traitors because they don’t support the victim view of these self-anointed black leaders.

The black left has ingrained in the poor that anyone who opposes public assistance is an enemy of the black race.

I am poor, so are my neighbors and roommates. There are many government programs we qualify for, but instead we choose alternatives to public assistance such as temp agencies and day labor.

I live with one roommate who lost his job and looks for work every day. Because he is behind on his rent he asked for rental assistance. Still, I have never once heard him say, “I don’t want to work because Uncle Sam will pay my rent.”

None of us believe we’re victims like the MSNBC crowd claims we are. We do not need crusaders for our cause. We dream of upward mobility instead of pity and defeat.

However, we are not anti-government either. We know and understand that jobs are scarce and situations happen. We are all one check away from public assistance. We are frustrated but don’t see ourselves as held down.

The truth is more minorities agree with conservatives like Cosby and Carson than the MSNBC crowd may understand. We know structural forces can lead people to poverty. We must acknowledge minorities got a raw deal. Our ancestors were slaves, lynched and exploited, and the government has never repaired the wounds of bigotry. We are likely to end up in jail, unemployed and sick at a faster rate than other segments of society. Until Uncle Sam has squared up its obligations by all means, we should fight for what was granted for all Americans: to be treated equally

Despite the odds, we dream of the upward lift, a piece of the capitalist dream, not one of public assistance but a livable wage.

I agree with the Carsons that liberals destroy initiative among the poor and do a great disservice by planting the seeds of inferiority instead of a quest for excellence.

Martin Luther King’s message throughout his life was self-reliance. Here is a quote from Dr. King: “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Malcolm X also preached self-help and personal responsibility: “I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.”

Truth is, those on MSNBC disrespect the King legacy by painting him as a defender of public assistance. It does a great disservice to the young viewers who do not understand this great man’s message of personal responsibility and self-help.

My advice to MSNBC is that instead of devoting segments to victimhood, your programing should be more devoted to self-help and hard work. Your viewers would be better for it.