Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It was Black community sensible talk today.

Culture: First Juan Williams writes a nice op-ed in Wash Post that hits upon the main points of his new book. “Banish the Bling: A Culture of Failure Taints Black America.”

"....Cosby said that the quarter of black Americans still living in poverty are failing to hold up their end of a deal with history when they don't take advantage of the opportunities created by the Supreme Court's Brown decision and the sacrifices of civil rights leaders from Martin Luther King Jr. to Thurgood Marshall and Malcolm X. Those leaders in the 1950s and '60s opened doors by winning passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and fair housing laws. Their triumphs led to the nationwide rise in black political power on school boards and in city halls and Congress. Taken as a whole, that era of stunning breakthroughs set the stage for black people, disproportionately poor and ill-educated because of a history of slavery and segregation, to reach new heights -- freed from the weight of government-sanctioned segregation. It also created a national model of social activism to advance the rights of women, Hispanics, gays and others. Cosby asked the chilling question: "What good is Brown " and all the victories of the civil rights era if nobody wants them? A generation after those major civil rights victories, black America is experiencing alarming dropout rates, shocking numbers of children born to single mothers and a frightening acceptance of criminal behavior that has too many black people filling up the jails. Where is the focus on taking advantage of new opportunities to advance and to close the racial gap in educational and economic achievement? Incredibly, Cosby's critics don't see the desperate need to pull a generational fire alarm to warn people about a culture of failure that is sabotaging any chance for black people in poverty to move up and help their children reach the security of economic and educational achievement. Not one mainstream civil rights group picked up on his call for marches and protests against bad parenting, drug dealers, hate-filled rap music and failing schools. Where is the civil rights groundswell on behalf of stronger marriages that will allow more children to grow up in two-parent families and have a better chance of staying out of poverty? Where are the marches demanding good schools for those children -- and the strong cultural reinforcement for high academic achievement (instead of the charge that minority students who get good grades are "acting white")? Where are the exhortations for children to reject the self-defeating stereotypes that reduce black people to violent, oversexed "gangstas," minstrel show comedians and mindless athletes?
They are too busy teaching African studies pushing the excuse/victim game like Peniel E. Joseph of the Department of Africana Studies at Stony Brook University.
For Williams, Cosby stands out as a prophet amid a searing American wilderness: bold enough to expose the rough truth that individual responsibility is more responsible than "systemic racism" for black crime, educational shortcomings and bad behavior. In Cosby's speeches and Williams's book, fleeting acknowledgments of racism are trumped by simplistic, at times repetitive lectures cautioning blacks to look at their own shortcomings before blaming anyone else. Beyond Williams's polemics lies a more complex story about the political economy of racism whose effects on poor neighborhoods elude those who romanticize ghetto and "gangsta" culture. His discussions of the "stop snitching" campaigns that discourage cooperation with police and Cosby's outrage over the epidemic use of the "N" word are worthy of serious debate. But that would require the kind of rich analysis, penetrating insight and layered narrative that Enough lacks, as well as a hard look at the impacts of unemployment, racial profiling, police brutality and other features of modern-day racism, along with the lingering effects of slavery and Jim Crow, which continue to disfigure the lives of blacks and distort the shape of American democracy. Unlike The Covenant With Black America , a bestselling anthology with concrete proposals for community empowerment, Enough concludes with a flurry of righteous condescension, preaching that youngsters can best avoid poverty by finishing high school, getting a job and postponing marriage and child-bearing until at least 21. Williams's praise for African Americans' creative resilience during the rough road from slavery to freedom is commendable, as is his ardor for the achievements of civil rights activists. But even as civil rights victories opened doors of opportunity, white backlash, the decline of industrial jobs and fatigue over racial conflict helped blunt the movement's more ambitious dreams: ending poverty, forging genuine racial integration and eliminating social, political and economic disparities based on race.
The only condescension I am seeing is from Peniel. The first thing that needs to be done is self-improvement in the black community while dismissing/discarding/ignoring the negative threads that only do it harm. The movement got hijacked along the way where empowerment became entitlement. Everyone waiting around for their 40 acres and a mule while demanding everyone beat themselves over and over for the wrongs of history. As that is happening, everyone else is moving on up and moving along not bothering with going down that gimmie path. Its the reason why the NAACP is a shell of its former self, why the only so called leaders left are Rev Al and Jesse. There are certain entities and people that will lose their purpose if enough Black people start leaving the liberal mindset of you are always a victim, stay that way and be happy. Here is a disturbing thread that invokes the Cos, Black preschool kids are being thrown out at rate higher than any other group. Via Clarence Page.
Nationally, preschool programs expel children at more than three times the rate of kindergarten-through-12th-grade programs, according to a first-of-its-kind study by Yale University's Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. Black children were twice as likely to be expelled from preschool programs as white or Latino children, and five times as likely to be expelled as Asian-American children, the study found. "Now, what's going on there?" Dr. Poussaint, a black man, asked the mostly black crowd at "Paths to Success: A Forum on Young African-American Men." "Is racial profiling starting at age 3 or 4?" he asked. "Or is there something going on before preschool that relates to the family and the community that already is making some of these young black males unable to adapt, unable to fit, in a preschool level?" If you thought he was about to point fingers in knee-jerk fashion at white racism, you'd be wrong. Instead, Dr. Poussaint said he believes we all should be asking where that early anger is coming from. He zeroed in on abnormally high levels of child abuse and neglect, particularly in the homes of low-income black families. His principal target was what the forum's featured speaker, Bill Cosby, has called in his own famously blunt terms, "parents who are not parenting." "There's an overuse of beating kids - corporal punishment," Dr. Poussaint said. "So that you have 80 percent of black parents believing you should beat them - beat the devil out of them. And research shows the more you beat them, the angrier they get. It is not good discipline." Abuse also does not have to be physical, he said. Heads in his audience nodded in agreement as he described black parents cursing, shaking or slapping their prekindergarten kids or demeaning them with statements like, "You're no good, just like your father." As someone who grew up with more than a few "whuppings" from loving parents, I have learned as a parent that other forms of discipline, like "timeouts," work better than physical or verbal abuse. Of course, these nonviolent forms of discipline take more patience than some parents are able to muster.
I think there is a huge difference between a few butt whuppings and what is likely happen in a bad home which is vicious child abuse. I don't agree with lumping everything into one group. But heavy handed beatings that cross the line in a bad low income home where you are most likely dealing with multiple kids, single moms is a receipe for disaster.

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