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April 06, 2005

Treating the symptoms and ignoring the cause


Though income and education gaps between black and white Americans have narrowed significantly, black households still have barely one-tenth the net worth of white households, according to a new National Urban League report.

Marc H. Morial, Urban League president, said the black middle class’ tenuous hold on prosperity reflects racial discrimination in housing and other wealth-building arenas — both historically and now — and suggests that today’s civil rights battles are largely economic.

“Since the 1960s, one of the success stories is the growth of the African-American middle class — those who are college-educated, participating throughout the American economy and growing in stature and influence,” Morial said. “But what we face is that these successes of 40 years are being eroded. The danger is the great backslide that can occur.”

But who are the “heroes” of today's Black youths, pushed even by (especially by) Black entertainment sources? Gangster rappers and sports figures. Gangster rappers revel in profanity and demeaning women. While many sports figures may be good moral examples (while some are definitely not) it is still a field with limited possibilities.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century anti-Semitism was prevalent enough that many Jews chose the entertainment industry as a hope for a more promising career. Eventually they came to almost dominate the industry and even as recent as a few years ago the prevalence of Jews in the industry was source of complaint by some. But throughout the decades Jewish kids were told that they could succeed in any field they chose, and indeed as we can all easily see they have.

But what are Black kids being told by their own elders? The “man” won't let you succeed. Excelling in school may very well result in being labeled an “Uncle Tom” or “trying to be White”. A friend of mine who lived in a mostly White neighborhood had no problems with her White neighbors. No it was her Black friends in her old neighborhood who called her a sellout for moving out of the Black section of town. I was astounded several years ago when teaching a Sunday School class of all Black kids, ranging in age from 13 to 17, that only one of the dozen or so kids knew who Colin Powel was.

What does all that mean? The path to economic success begins early on. When, from a young age, you are convinced that excelling in anything other than music or sports is a waste of time, you are virtually crippled in any serious attempt at a promising career. When you are surrounded with an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust for anyone not of your race -- all of the normal difficulties in life will appear to be the intentional acts of those you distrust, furthering that distrust.

The road to freedom of any kind begins by removing the chains you've put upon yourself.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 6, 2005 11:35 AM

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