Competition and Experience are the Keys to Achievement


by Mike Ramey

A New Visions Commentary paper published August 1997 by The National Center
for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002,
202/543-4110, Fax (202) 543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web
http://www.nationalcenter.org. Reprints permitted provided source
is credited.


One of my favorite baseball stories involves two well-known players: Hank Aaron and Yogi Berra. The story dates back to when they were young men. Aaron and Berra were playing in the same game for opposing teams. Aaron stepped up to the plate, bat in hand, ready to take care of business. Berra, who was in his position as catcher, noticed that Aaron was holding the bat with the label facing the wrong way.

Berra whispered to Aaron: "Hold the bat so you can read the label."

Aaron whispered back to Berra: "I didn't come here to read, I came here to hit."

In a nutshell, you can now understand the condition that has a firm grip on the soul of Black America in our current era. We have been conditioned by the press, the media, liberal politicians, Hollywood, and the government to believe that we cannot succeed in a free market society, without help via a jobs bill, welfare laws, or affirmative action.

To further complicate the matter, those of us who have shed the shackles of liberal thinking, and have embraced the common sense principles of conservative thought have been forcefully benched by some of our own communities. These are the same communities that claim to want to know how to get out of their economic slump, but fear taking a risk in declaring their economic freedom.

I make no apologies for being a Christian, a minister, an African-American, a man, a husband, a father, a teacher, a journalist, and a Republican. I have read all of the labels others have tried to stick on me.

Yet, like the baseball player who takes to the diamond every day, I have learned how to disregard the labels, and focus on hitting.

What is a black conservative? Someone who has tasted the freedom of what America has to offer, and dares to compete in the arena. He or she has learned how to hit, and is anxious to coach others in the art of hitting; not the pursuit of reading.

How did Hank Aaron become the all-time home run king of baseball? One trip to the plate at a time. One swing at a time.

One game at a time.

How did Tiger Woods win the Masters, and get to put on that green jacket? Did he only read about golf? Did he go to the library and read about golf? No. He went to the course, from an early age, and stroked away. Woods won the Masters one stroke at a time, one tournament at a time.

Don't get me wrong. Aaron and Woods did spend some time reading up on their respective vocations. However, both of them realized at an early age that there is a time for reading, and a time for hitting.

When you get down to the bottom line, the main difference between liberals and conservatives is the following: Liberals are content to have black America read and dream about success, raise altars to success, and even focus on past successes.

Conservatives are only content when all people, regardless of color, can get into life's game, compete for themselves, and win based on their own skills and abilities.

Use your talents. Live in an upright manner before your community. One can grow weary of reading about how other cultures have hit economic, family, social and academic home runs.

We, as black conservatives, are not only in the arena of life; we are committed to helping our people to hit some home runs as well, one house and one community at a time.


(Mike Ramey, a member of the national Advisory Committee of the African-American leadership group Project 21, is an associate minister at the Greater St. Mark Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.)

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Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.