Jason L. Riley
Editorial Board Member, Wall Street Journal

Jason L. Riley on Race Relations and Law EnforcementJason L. Riley is an
editorial board member 
and a senior editorial 
page writer at the Wall 
Street Journalwhere 
he writes on politics, economics, educa-
tion, immigration, and race. Heis also a 
FOX News contributor and appears 
regularly on Special Report with Bret 
Baier. Previously, he worked forUSA 
Today and the Buffalo NewsHe earned 
a bachelor’s degree in English from the 
State University of New York at Buffalo. 
He is the author ofPlease Stop 
Helping Us: How Liberals Make It 
Harder for Blacks to Succeed.

The following is adapted from a speech 
delivered on January 30, 2015, at Hillsdale 
College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for 
Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in 
Washington, D.C., as part of the AWC 
Family Foundation Lecture Series.
Thomas Sowell once said that some
books youwrite for pleasure, and others 
you write out of asense of duty, because 
there are things to besaid—and other 
people have better sense than to say 
them. My new book, Please Stop Helping 
Us, falls into that latter category. When 
I started out as a journalist 20 years ago, 
I had no expectation of focusing on race-
related topics. People like Sowell and 
Shelby Steele and Walter Williams and a 
few other independent black thinkers, to 
my mind at least, had already said what 
needed to be said, had been saying it for 
decades, and had been saying it more 
eloquently than I ever could. But over 
the years, and with some prodding from 
those guys, it occurred to me that not 
enough younger blacks were following in 
their footsteps. It also occurred to me that 
many public policies aimed at the black 
underclass were just as wrongheaded as 
ever. The fight wasn’t over. A new gener-
ation of black thinkers needed to explain 
what’s working and what isn’t, and why, 
to a new generation of readers. And the 
result is this book, which I hope will help 
to bring more light than heat to the discu-
ssion of race. The book is not an autobi-
ography or a memoir, butI do tell a few 
stories about growing up black and male 
in the inner city. And one of the stories
involves a trip back home to Buffalo, 
New York, where I was born and raised. 
I was visiting my older sister shortly after 
I had begun working at the Wall Street 
Journal, and I was chatting with her 
daughter, my niece, who was maybe in 
the second grade at the time. I was 
asking her about school, her favorite 
subjects, that sort of thing, when she 
stopped me and said, “Uncle Jason, 
why you talk white?” Then she turned 
to her little friend who was there and
said, “Don’t my uncle sound white? 
Why he tryin’ to sound so smart?” She 
was just teasing, of course. I smiled 
and they enjoyed a little chuckle at my 
expense. But what she said stayed with 
me. I couldn’t help thinking: Here were 
two young black girls, seven or eight 
years old, already linking speech 
patterns to raceand intelligence. They 
already had a rather sophisticated 
awareness that, as blacks, white- 
sounding speech was not only to be 
avoided in their own speech but 
mocked in the speech of others. 
shouldn’t have been too surprised 
by this, and I wasn’t. My siblings, 
along with countless other black 
friends and relatives, teased me the 
same way when I was growing up. 
And other black professionals have 
told similar stories. What I had forgot-
ten is just how early these attitudes 
take hold—how soon this counterpro-
ductive thinking and behavior begins.
New York City has the largest school
system in America. Eighty percent of 
black kids in New York public schools 
are performing below grade level. And 
a big part of the problem is a black
subculture that rejects attitudes and
behaviors that are conducive to aca-
demic success. Black kids read half 
as many books and watch twice
as much television as their white
counterparts, for example. In other 
words, a big part of the problem is a 
culture that produces little black girls 
and boys who are already worried 
about acting and sounding white by 
the time they are in second grade.
Another big part of the problem is
a reluctance to speak honestly about 
these cultural shortcomings.Many 
whites fear being called racists. And 
many black leaders have a vested 
interest in blaming black problems 
primarily on white racism, so that
is the narrative they push regardless
of the reality. Racism has become an 
all-purpose explanation for bad black 
outcomes, be they social or economic. 
If you disagree and are white, you’re a 
bigot. If you disagree and are black, 
you’re a sell-out.
The shooting death of a young black
man by a white police officer in Ferg-
uson, Missouri, last year touched off 
a national discussion about everything 
except the aberrant behavior of so
many young black men that results in
suchfrequent encounters with police. 
We talked
about racial prejudice, poverty, unem-
ploymentprofiling, the tensions betw-
een law enforcement and poor black 
communities, and so forth. Rarely did 
we hear any discussion of black crime 
Homicide is the leading cause of death
for young black men in the U.S., and 
around 90 percent ofthe perpetrators 
are also black. Yet for months we’ve had 
protesters nationwide pretending that
our morgues are full of young black men
cops are shooting them. Around 98 per-
cent of black shooting deaths do not 
involve police. In fact, a cop is six times 
more likely to be shot by someone black 
than the opposite. The protestors
are pushing a false anti-cop narrative,
and every-one from the president on 
down has played along. As political 
scientist James Q. Wilson said, if crime 
is to a significant degree caused by 
weak character, if weak character is 
more likely among children of unmarried 
mothers, if there are no fathers who will 
help raise their children, acquire jobs, 
and protect their neighborhoods, if boys 
become young men with no preparation 
for work, if school achievement is reg-
arded as a sign of having sold out—if all 
these things are true, then the chances 
of reducing the crime rate among low 
income blacks anytime soon is slim.
Many on the Left sincerely want to help
the black underclass. The problem is 
that liberals believe bigger government 
is the best way to help. But having 
looked at the track record of govern-
ment policies aimed at helping the black 
underclass, I’m skeptical.