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July 23, 2017

Comments

T-Mo

Nurglitch, your points are well-taken. The "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" philosophy is often much easier said than done.
In many cases, you are correct: People born into dire circumstances are only as good as their options. But I firmly believe that many of the middle- and upper-class blacks in the United States got where they are through sheer determination, persistence, and self-confidence (bolstered by faith in a higher being, I might add).
In other words, they may well have been disgusted/depressed/discouraged about being born with the deck stacked against them, being let down repeatedly by their loved ones, and facing dehumanizing bigotry throughout society. But they also sensed -- and acted upon this instinct -- that they COULD break out of their dysfunctional world.
I must say, when you consider what a bad hand American blacks have been dealt for centuries, they have persisted, impressed us and contributed tremendously in many fields and endeavors not only after the civil rights movement, but even during the darkest depths of slavery, Jim Crow laws and institutional racism.
Check out my post about Black History Month from Feb. 27, 2010. I give major props to the Tuskegee Airmen; the Black Warriors of the U.S. Army, 92nd Division, who fought valiantly against the Germans and Italians in World War II; and Benjamin Banneker, the first black astronomer, who taught himself astronomy and advanced mathematics. He was so accomplished, Thomas Jefferson recommended Banneker for the surveying team that laid out Washington, D.C.
Nurglitch, I don't always agree with what you say, but I commend you for presenting your case well. It is good to know that someone with your intelligence and sense of engagement is a regular reader of our humble blog, which, frankly, counts its readers in the dozens (as opposed to millions, thousands or hundreds).
We appreciate the fact that you keep taking the time to read and respond. My co-blogger and I do this because we enjoy thinking, writing and attempting to philosophize in our own way. We like to think that, when it comes to a blog's readership, quality counts much more than quantity!

Nurglitch

I think you should re-read the following paragraphs put side by side:

"The whites of 1960s Detroit were, I suspect, like many other whites across the nation: Many of them didn't harbor outright hatred of blacks or racist views, per se, nor did they particularly enjoy seeing blacks suffer. But they were complacent and indifferent. Their attitude was one of "I've got mine" and I'm not going to lose sleep worrying about others. And/or, I have enough problems of my own to deal with without being a bleeding heart of empathy regarding the troubles of strangers with whom I'll never interact."

"But these pleasing aspects are dragged down by persistent poverty, illiteracy, drug and gang problems and horrid schools. Like the African American population nationwide, Detroit has too many individuals who have made poor personal decisions, squandering the freedom and opportunity their parents and grandparents worked so hard to achieve."

People are only as good as their options, and for many people those options are handed to them by their family connections. Communities that use those family connections prosper. Communities without those well-placed and influential members cannot bootstrap themselves out of generational poverty and all the problems that arise out of it. We see this in Appalachia as much as Detroit.

The racial component highlights a tribal/class component whereby looking after your own in-group people means that you're not looking after out-group people. And by looking after, I mean providing those opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have for schooling, for employment, for childcare, for mobility, both class and to where the jobs are.

It's the little things too. Like eliminating non-white names to cut down on the thousands of resumes that a job-posting on the Internet might invite. Or gerrymandering an electoral district so that a representative that might funnel gov't tax breaks and contracts to locally owned businesses.

You've already made step #1 in noticing that you're complacent and indifferent. Step #2 is figuring out what you can do to help. Step #3 is putting in the multi-generational effort that it will take to ensure that your grand-children will refer to us as 'citizens' and not just 'blacks.'

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