Why Black Students Aren’t Prepared, part 2

“I have no desire to get rid of safety nets for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people.”  — Dr. Ben Carson

Continuing excerpts from Jason L. Riley’s enlightening and insightful book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed

saggy-pants-_t23b“Education is not the only area where an oppositional black mindset has been detrimental to social and economic progress. 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. But it’s hard to see how blacks will improve their lot without changing their attitudes toward school. A culture that takes pride in ignorance and mocks learnedness has a dim future. And those who attempt to make excuses for black social pathology rather than condemning these behaviors in no uncertain terms are part of the problem. ‘The middle-class values by which we [middle-class blacks] were raised — the work ethic, the importance of education, the value of property ownership, of respectability, of “getting ahead”, of stable family life, of initiative, of self-reliance, et cetera — are, in themselves, raceless and even assimilationist,’ wrote race scholar Shelby Steele. ‘But the particular pattern of racial identification that emerged in the sixties and that still prevails today urges middle-class blacks (and all blacks) in the opposite direction. This pattern asks us to see ourselves as an embattled minority.’

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. On a 2013 album Jay-Z, one of the country’s richest and most popular rappers, referenced one Wayne Perry in a song. Perry was a hit man in the 1980s for one of Washington, D.C.’s most notorious drug lords. He pleaded guilty in 1994 to five murders, and received five consecutive life sentences. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2010, President Barack Obama expressed his affinity for rappers like Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, whose lyrics often elevate misogyny, drug dealing, and gun violence. At the time of the president’s interview, Lil Wayne was imprisoned on gun and drug charges.”

A couple years ago, I was taken to task for writing, “I hope that the Black Community will recognize and takes steps to counter the harmful contributions made by certain aspects of “urban culture”, as represented by the hip-hop/rap music glorifying all manner of violent, criminal, and immoral behavior.” But, I wasn’t saying anything different than Riley and Steele.

“Rappers have long expressed pride in spreading degeneracy among black youths…. Meanwhile, liberal sages are preoccupied with ‘contextualizing’ this cultural rot. Cornel West describes rap as ‘primarily the musical expression of the paradoxical cry of desperation and celebration of the black underclass and poor working class, a cry that openly acknowledges and confronts the wave of personal coldheartedness, criminal cruelty and existential hopelessness in the black ghettos.’…

Black intellectuals, it seems, are much more interested in attacking those who are critical of these black cultural expressions. When black officials in Louisiana and Georgia moved to pass indecency laws aimed at the proliferation of youths who refused to cover their backsides in public, [sociologist and TV commentator Michael Eric] Dyson criticized not the kids or the culture but the proposals…. And Benjamin Chavis, the former head of the NAACP, vowed to challenge the ordinances in court….”

You may remember from the previous post that I linked much of this to liberal/progressive policies. It’s sometimes easy to lose the connection, so here’s a bit more on that from Riley….

2014-Black-Poverty-Chart“There is a much stronger case to be made that efforts to help blacks have had more pernicious and lasting effects on black attitudes and habits than either slavery or segregation. Social welfare programs that were initiated or greatly expanded during the 1960s resulted in the government effectively displacing black fathers as breadwinners, and made work less attractive. Even before Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty began in earnest, New York and other states had already been expanding their social welfare programs. And despite the best intentions, the results were not encouraging. [Riley then goes on to discuss increases in broken families and plummeting student performances primarily within the Black Community.]

Ideally, welfare dependency should be a passing phase, and for most people it is. But for too many black families it has become the norm, and even those who escape it often return…. By retarding or otherwise interfering with black self-development, government programs have tended to do more harm than good. And black elites who choose to focus on the behavior of whites are encouraging these youngsters to do the same, and thus perpetuating the problem.

A sad irony of the black cultural obsession with avoiding white behavior is that the habits and attitudes associated with ghetto life today can be traced not to Mother Africa but to Europeans who immigrated to the American South…. These immigrants brought their Old World habits and patterns to America and passed them along to the people who lived around them, which included most black people in America…. In the opening essay of his 2005 book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell neatly summarized some of these findings:

The cultural values and social patterns prevalent among Southern whites included an aversion to work, proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity, improvidence, drunkenness, lack of entrepreneurship, reckless searches for excitement, lively music and dance, and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery. This oratorical style carried over into the political oratory of the region in both the Jim Crow era and the civil rights era, and has continued on into our own times among black politicians, preachers, and activists.

Most whites have of course abandoned this behavior, and have risen socioeconomically as a result. How ironic that so many blacks cling to these practices in an effort to avoid ‘acting white’. And how tragic that so many liberals choose to put an intellectual gloss on black cultural traits that deserve disdain. The civil rights movement, properly understood, was about equal opportunity. But a group must be culturally equipped to seize it. Blacks today on balance remain ill equipped, and the problem isn’t white people.”

Ironic and tragic, indeed.


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