BOOK REVIEW: Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed by Jason L. Riley

StopHelpingUs5 of 5 Stars

Recommended for: Every conservative in America especially those that are interested in education.

Up until this year, I had never heard of Jason Riley. I listen to Benjamin Weingarten’s TheBlaze Books podcast (If you are a political and book nerd like me, then you need to be listening to this podcast!), and he had him on as a guest back in July. Weingarten had him on again in mid-August, on that episode they discussed Ferguson, Missouri.

I was incredibly impressed with Riley, and somehow or another, I ended up with an email and an offer to review the book. Time has gotten away from me, and I should have had this review done sooner.

I have always been fascinated at how the left has been able to capitalize and utilize black voters to their advantage. While they get their vote, they continue to promote policies that do nothing but harm black people. Put that in context of the fact that they were the party of slavery and Jim Crow, it is probably the most successful hoodwink in the history of our Republic.

Please Stop Helping Us is short in length, but long in implication and importance. In 175 pages and six short chapters, Riley tears apart the lunacy that is liberal special interest politics. Well-cited, and filled with personal stories to contextualize his topic, Riley presents an engaging read that challenges so many stereotypes and fictions that Americans wrongfully believe.

Riley states in the introduction:

This book examines the track record of the political left’s serial altruism over the past half century. Have popular government policies and programs that are aimed at helping blacks worked as intended? And where the black advancement has occurred, do these government efforts deserve the credit that they so often receive?…In theory these efforts [welfare, minimum wage, affirmative action, soft on crime laws, and a mistaken belief school choice is harmful] are meant to help. In practice they become barriers to moving forward. Please Stop Helping Us lays bare these counterproductive results.

Chapter one, Black Man in the White House, takes a look at the implication of Barack Obama’s election as President in the historical context of black political history.

Chapter two, Culture Matters, is a brave chapter. Riley uses his own personal narrative to approach the issue of black culture. Riley first discusses absentee fathers within the black community. While his mother and father did not remain together, Riley had a father that was present and involved in his life.

“And though they couldn’t save their marriage, my parents were resolved to save their kids. What this meant in practice was that they tried, with mixed results, to minimize the impact of America’s black subculture on their children.”

Riley was the only one of four siblings to escape this culture. Sadly, Riley lost two of his siblings to drugs and his older sister became a single mom.

Riley enjoyed school, and the byproduct of this was that Riley was picked on by other blacks and members of his own family. He tells a story of his nine-year-old niece attacking his proper speech, “Why you talk white, Uncle Jason?” Turning to her friend, she continued, “Don’t my uncle sound white? Why he trying to sound so smart?” Somehow black culture has equated white with being intelligent and learned.

Riley moves on from his personal narrative to a discussion of the impact of black culture on the educational performance of black people. Pulling heavily from educational studies, Riley paints a picture of black culture that is ignorant to the importance of education and destroying itself from the inside out.

“Black cultural attitudes toward work, authority, dress, sex, and violence have also proven counterproductive, inhibiting the development of the kind of human capital that has lead to socioeconomic advancement for other groups…A culture that takes pride in ignorance and mocks learnedness has a dim future.

Black culture today not only condones delinquency and thuggery but celebrates it to the point where black youths have adopted jail fashion in the form of baggy, low-slung pants and oversize T-shirts. Hip-hop music immortalizes drug dealers and murderers.”

Chapter three, The Enemy Within, takes a look at the issues of crime inside of the black community. Riley once again starts out with personal anecdotes about encounters with law enforcement. While frustrating, Riley once again courageously puts the blame on the reality of the situation. In this case, we are referring to high black crime rates. Riley states, “The black inmate population reflects black criminality, not a racist criminal justice system.” The chapter is full of statistical evidence that bolsters Riley’s position. As Riley says in his conclusion of the chapter, “The stark racial differences in crime rates undoubtedly impact black-white relations in America. So long as they persist, young black men will make people nervous. Discussions about the problem can be useful if they are honest, which is rare.”

Chapter four, Mandating Unemployment, is a brilliant look at the issue of minimum wage in the context of racial history in America. I never knew the link between unions, racism, and minimum wage laws. This chapter is damning to one of the most successful myths the left has managed to perpetrate in this country. Survey research continues to show Americans support additional increases in the minimum wage. Minimum wage laws are incredibly harmful to the poor, and as Riley demonstrates, they are significantly harmful to black Americans. This is probably my favorite chapter in the whole book.

Chapter five, Educational Freedom, takes a look at the education system and its effects on black Americans. Riley looks at how successful choice programs (vouchers and charters) despite union opposition, are making a difference in some of the poorest communities in New York City. Riley closes this chapter with a brief look at historically black colleges and universities.

The final chapter of the book examines the left’s sacred cow, affirmative action. Not only must liberals help, they must social engineer to right all wrongs. Consistent in form, Riley equipped with research destroys the myth of affirmative action. I’ve always suspected this practice has done little to better minorities in our society, and this chapter reinforced that belief. Since 1960 the black middle class has failed to grow any more rapid than prior to 1960. In 1970, 33.5% of blacks were below the poverty line and in 1990 that number was still at 31.9%. Riley also discusses the effect of affirmative action on colleges in this chapter.

This review has gone on a bit long than I like to make them, but I loved this book and wanted you to get a feel of what was inside it. This is one of those books that make liberals incredibly angry because it presents the truth of their ugly manipulation of a special interest group. Go get a copy of his book and read it for yourself!

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Excerpt from The Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures by Hank Kellner

Hank Kellner is a retired associate professor of English. He is the author of 125 Photos for English Composition Classes (J. Weston Walch, 1978); Terror at Mirror Lake (Smashwords, 2013); I Don’t Wanna Be an Orange Anymore (Smashwords, 2013); The Taste of Appalachia (Smashwords 2013); How to Be a Better Photographer (J. Weston Walch, 1980), Write What You See (Prufrock Press, 2010), and, with Elizabeth Guy Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing Prufrock Press, 2013). His other writings and photographs have appeared in hundreds of publications nationwide.

Politically incorrect in every way, The Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures by Hank Kellner pokes fun at just about every aspect of our society. Reminiscent of the writings of Voltaire and other great satirists, this novel takes the reader on a rollicking journey that spares no person or institution as it satirizes both men and women with all their warts and blemishes.

After Winston Finn’s wife of many years leaves him to live with her girlfriend in Mississippi, the distraught retired stockbroker decides to travel and see the world. Early on, he meets Liberty Belle, a young former army nurse and airline flight attendant. Because Winston and Liberty have similar interests, they decide to embark on their journey together.

During their travels, they encounter such characters as Father Flanagan and his conversion extraordinaire, Olivia Stockton and the Society for the Prevention of Erotic Relationships with Men (SPERM); Captain Fung Goo and the Chinese pirates; Alandra the Moon Goddess; Willa Catheter and Captain Hashimototo; and a host of others

At one point in the novel, Liberty—or Libby as she prefers to be called—relates how she was captured by Captain Fung Goo; sold into slavery at the Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures in Thailand; and eventually escaped while at the same time taking revenge on her nemesis, General Mortimer (Kickass) Shostakapulski.

At the conclusion of the novel, three terrorists from Paducastan who are guest students at a community college in New York kidnap our hero and heroine, spirit them away to a remote cabin in the woods, and plan to train them to become suicide bombers. But when Libby outwits Abdul bin Pasquelante, Mohammed bin Rashid, and Mahmud bin Pudendum; the two travelers are able to escape.

In this excerpt from the novel, Winston and Libby meet Helen Millston, Libby’s former high school English teacher, who has been railroaded out of her job and now earns a living as a car thief.

The Lucky Star House of Celestial Pleasures is available as an Ebook at Amazon, Smashwords, and other outlets.

The Amazing Journey of Winston Finn and Liberty Belle (Part One)

Chapter Nine

Helen Millston, Car Thief

We passed through the kitchen and into a narrow alley at the rear of the deli. Puffing and panting like a long distance runner who was out of shape, I followed Libby through the alley and toward the spot where we had parked the Honda.

“Hey,” cried Libby when we were about thirty feet away from the car, “do you see what I see?”

“Yes, I do. It looks like someone’s trying to break into your car!”

Quick as lightning, Libby sprinted toward the shadowy figure and started pounding him on the side of his head with her fists. “Get out of here, you creep!” she shouted, “You’re not getting my car.”

Almost out of breath, I followed as closely as I could.

“Ouch! Stop! You’re hurting me,” shrieked the thief in a high-pitched voice as he turned around and began to fight back. I could see fists flailing the air and landing on Libby with enough force to do some damage.

I knew that if I didn’t do something right away, Libby could get hurt. “All right, cut it out,” I said in my most commanding voice.

Then I moved in behind the thief and wrapped my arms around him. But when I felt two mounds of flesh where I should have felt nothing, I was so surprised I almost let go.

“Oh, my gosh,” I blurted, “It’s a woman.”

“Let go of me, you pervert,” shouted my captive.

Libby stepped back, squinted through the darkness for a few moments, and said, “Let her go, Winston. I know her.” Then she moved closer and touched the woman’s face with her fingertips. “Good grief,” she whispered. “Ms. Millston? Is it really you?”

“Libby? Libby Belle?” asked the other woman. “I can’t believe this. Is it really you?”

Almost before I could unwrap my arms from around the car thief, Libby embraced her, and the two women began to laugh and cry and giggle and jump up and down and tell their life stories at the same time.

After a while, they stopped. “Winston,” proclaimed Libby, “this is my old high school English teacher, Ms. Helen Millston.”

I thought that meeting a high school English teacher who was also a car thief was stretching the imagination a bit. But after I thought for a moment about what I’d seen and heard during the past few days, it really didn’t surprise me.

Ms. Millston smiled and said, “Former English teacher, Libby. I was fired last year after sixteen years in the trenches.” She leaned against the Honda, lit a cigarette, and smiled. “Oh, don’t look so shocked. As a matter of fact, I make more money as a car thief than I did as a teacher. And that’s counting the extra $250 a year I made by serving as faculty advisor to the school newspaper. By the way, you can call me Helene.”

Libby reached out and hugged Helen so hard I thought she’d explode. “You were fired? Why? How? I don’t believe it! You were the best. You brought Shakespeare to life. You made 18th Century poetry understandable. You read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English! You were the only teacher who made sense out of chaos. You even won the Engteoty Award two years in a row!”

“What’s the Engteoty Award?” I asked.

Helen scratched her ear and tipped her head to one side. “Engteoty is an acronym for the English Teacher of the Year Award. It’s presented by Johstengananal— the Journal of High School Teachers of English, Advisors to Newspapers, and Authors of Numerous Articles about Literature.”

To be continued


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Book Review: A LONG WALK TO WATER by Linda Sue Park

ALWTWRating: 5/5 Stars

Suggested audience: Middle school and above, some advanced upper elementary readers may be able to enjoy this title

A Long Walk to Water  has been on the New York Times Middle Grade Best-Sellers List for a total of 32 weeks since its original publication. At the end of last school year, my content team and I embarked on a cross-curricular unit that used this short narrative non-fiction novel.

I realize that there is tons of need inside of our own borders, but I believe that there is nothing wrong with learning about problems from around the world. For many of our children, they are clueless just how bad things can be in other nations. It is that lack of comparative perspective that has gotten our culture to the place we are at. So many of our teenagers ignorantly believe that their lives are really challenging. And many of them are entitled enough to believe that they shouldn’t have to work hard. Many of us, especially on the left, complain about the dumbest political issues. After reading a story like this, the individuals who were up in arms about the Hobby Lobby decision become a comedic caricature of American arrogance and wealth.

Poor baby…You can’t force your employer to fund your birth control that your employer disagrees with. It’s a crime against humanity! Stay out of my uterus! Or…something…

Meanwhile…on a continent thousands of miles away, people like Salva Dut, the young man that is featured in this story, go without clean water or face violent situations that Americans could not imagine. The women of their culture literally walk for miles everyday to bring back dirty, sometimes diseased water. The last thing on their mind is birth control provided as a contingency of employment.

A Long Walk to Water is a powerful, quick read. It is only 128 pages in length and is best classified as narrative non-fiction. The story has two narratives and is set in the Sudan. One of the narratives is that of a young girl, Nya, set near the present who has to walk for hours to bring water back to her family. The other is set in the recent past and is that of a young Salva Dut who fleas his village due to the raging civil war (caused by radical Islamists coincidentally). Salva ends up walking across much of the African continent in search of his family and safety. Later, he is brought to America as part of a program to help many of Sudan’s “Lost Boys.” Salva would go on to create the charity Water for South Sudan which brings him back to Sudan. The narratives collide in the end of the book. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but it’s a great story of forgiveness and helping fellow man.


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