Opinion: A letter to the president’s son-in-law
Dear Jared Kushner:
So I see where you think you’ve figured out what’s wrong with Black people. Monday, you shared it on Fox “News.”
“One thing we’ve seen in a lot of the Black community,” you said, “which is mostly Democrat, is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about. But he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”
How edifying to discover, 401 years later, that the problem was us all along. Freedom, education, wealth, health, not being murdered by mobs . . . we simply didn’t want them enough. Lazy us.
As it happens, you relieved yourself of this “thought” while discussing George Floyd, the unarmed 46-year-old African-American man who died in Minneapolis with a white cop’s knee on his neck. You criticized people who “polarize the country” on social media or use NBA courts as protest signs to decry “the George Floyd situation.” Me, I find it useful to juxtapose your “situation” with his.
The Washington Post tells us he was the great-great grandson of a man born enslaved in North Carolina. The New Yorker tells us you are the great-grandson of a Holocaust survivor.
When freedom came, the enslaved man, though denied an education by law, reportedly managed to amass 500 acres of land, only to have it legally stolen by white men. The survivor managed to escape Europe’s inferno, arriving in America with his daughter — your grandmother — and her husband in 1949. Floyd’s family had been here at least a century by then. They were sharecroppers, working someone else’s land for a piece of the profit, but routinely cheated out of their pay.
Your grandfather became a builder, erecting postwar suburbs from which people like the Floyds were excluded by federal mandate. In 1956, Congress passed an infrastructure bill that stimulated a building boom, making your grandfather rich. He gifted your father, Charles, a mansion. Floyd was raised in a housing project.
In 1998, Charles pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University. Shortly thereafter, Harvard, one of the most selective schools in the country, admitted you, a “less than stellar student” according to Daniel Golden, who wrote the book “The Price of Admission.” Floyd, by contrast, dropped out of Texas A&M University-Kingsville, a less-selective school, unable to keep up with the academic load.
Now he’s dead, and you’re lecturing us about Black people not wanting success enough. It’s an old refrain, often sung by someone like you, someone blithely convinced that the gaps between Black and white stem from something white did that Black negligently failed to do.
Well, excuse me for intruding upon your ignorance but the only thing you “did” was manage to enter the world rich — and, more important, white. You embody the old saw about a man being born on third base and thinking he hit a triple. Floyd’s mother, on the other hand, used to warn him that, as a Black man in America, “You already have two strikes” — and that success would require him to work three times harder than white people.
It’s something Black parents say a lot, and it speaks volumes about the America we’ve endured. That’s why your little lecture offends so deeply. After everything else, now we are subjected to the yammering of some entitled young princeling who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.
Dude, you were born standing on third. We were born at home plate, down in the count.
How dare you try to explain baseball to us.
— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald.