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Solution Paper #36: The Contest of Ideas, in General and, Specifically, Regarding Young People

Excerpts, June 26, 2009, from A Seat for Everyone, The Freedom Guide that Explores A Vision for America
Beacon On The Hill Press, 2008, pp. 38-39, 97
by Ron Edwards

pp. 38-39:
We are fighting a contest of ideas. Our enemies are those who believe the lies of the Kerner Commission report – that blacks are inherently different and, thus, inferior. There is even pseudo-science being written to support such idiocy, most notably The Bell Curve, which states that Black people are biologically less intelligent than Whites. Our people have been further insulted by the implication that the only areas we can excel in are athletics and entertainment.

Many books have been written to document the falsehood of these fallacies, documenting the tremendous contribution of Black people in all of the disciplines, including science, mathematics, medicine, law, education, and business. Still, the noisy gong of racism is hard to silence.

If we are to win this contest of ideas, we must focus on three things.

First, we must develop policies that enable individuals to generate wealth and wages, including minorities, and especially the inner city residents of North and South Minneapolis. Much as Harlem enjoyed in the 1920s, we must have our own rebirth – an Inner City Renaissance.

Second, we must help our inner city youth to assimilate and integrate into the mainstream of the American Dream: getting an education, getting a driver's license, getting a job, getting a car, and responsibly raising a family. If not, we risk continuing to incubate an environment that promotes gang membership.

Third, we must maximize the distribution for getting this message out, through books, columns, TV shows, weblogs, and community events, as well as influence those that make movies and pop music.

My friend Vernon Jordan has identified five key areas where our people should aspire to take positions of leadership:

  1. Government (both local and national)
  2. Corporate Business (as executives, managers, or board members)
  3. Grassroots Community-Based Organizations
  4. Colleges, Universities, Foundations, and Clinics
  5. Entrepreneurial Ventures

Let us not forget that 80% of jobs are created by small businesses. Our neighborhoods already have many institutions that organize in a similar fashion: churches, community organizations, and block associations. These local community structures can help empower economic development and the rebirth of the inner city.

So let us empower ourselves. Let us empower our communities. But let us never be the wolf in sheep's clothing. Let us never bow down at the master's table and accept that we are the root of the injustices which have been done to our people.

p. 97:
So how strange in 2008, after Dr. King taught us the ideal of the quality of character not the color of skin, that we have those advocating voting for a singular reason: she is a woman or he is Black or he is white. At issue are neither gender nor color but ideas. And yet, hard-nosed evidence shows that ideas about gender and color impact the ideas of fairness and justice. This is the context of my stories of fairness and justice. Which policies based on which “ideals” cause fairness and justice to bring meaning or pain? Let us view the contest of the ideas of our competing “ideals” for specific policies, taking a hard-nosed look through the lens of the evidence of reality, as I have done in this book.

Posted 3-22-10

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at

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