Link to the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pCePlFT1KI
“The inner-city is Americas largest problem…” John H. McWhorter
I want to do a commentary on this lecture for several reasons. I believe McWhorter is the embodiment of an individual that would be found living in a society that lacks illogical race-biases. He sees all people for what and who they are. Upon having a conversation with me he would not first notice I am white and I with him being black. In fact we’d probably only notice that difference when other people point it out. However, it is people like McWhorter and myself who are attacked for being racist and biggots. Race relations are so complex because of how complex human genetics and communication are.
If a bad idea appeals as virtuous or to some other aspect of the human condition it can flourish overnight and create more biases then existed previously.
I also chose to write a commentary because he has brought up several points which I would like to highlight in hopes of swaying peoples’ minds back towards the light and away from current trends. I believe that our racial divides stem from what one of the audience members points out. Societal abandonment of lower class, inner city, blacks. To fix this problem an integration needs to take place, and it will not be pretty or fast.
Media Narrative: The narrative nowadays in the Media is the largest counter to effective to racial acceptance and progress. It’s amazing that the Ben Carsons and Neil deGrassee Tysons of the world are the only non-thug blacks that the Media will gravitate too which creates the narrative that only extremely gifted blacks can break through the “oppressive society” we live in. What about the large number of middle class blacks that send their kids to private schools and live like normal contributing members of society? Do we know about them or does the Media ever portray them in their narrative building? Or do they focus on the exceptional and the violent? 1964 was the divide that started these narratives which began building after the Tulsa situation. Think of how many TV shows portray an average group of people that care for their children, reads books, study, and EARN a living. If a TV show or form of media like that exists it certainly doesn’t portray whites and blacks as culturally similar(read: equal). Racism must be the explanation for everything the black community does according to the narrative. It’s a natural response in our society to forgive and overlook all of the black failures in our society. As pointed out by McWhorter, Tupac is the go-to-guy for morals yet “…basically he got himself shot.” It was Tupac’s infatuation with gang life, guns, abusing women, hating oppressive whites, hating of history and education, and trash talking is what got him killed. No pity-party needed, we need to call him damaged goods and move on. No successful human I’ve met that is a contributing member to society ACTs the way Tupac did in his life. Media likes to point out that blacks constitute almost all of the PRISON inmates instead of focusing on the fact that they commit almost all of the CRIMES. In my city, almost all of the fatal shootings are inner city blacks shooting other blacks or are drug related. You only hear about it when it happens then it gets swept under the rug and becomes so hard to find information about it researchers have to spend years writing books to highlight the issue, then they get somewhat tainted in the process and contribute some to the racial divide (think White Girl Bleed A Lot).
Police integration: Do you think that the police will act better under camera or that the people in the city who harass cops and frequently ignore and disrespect the police will begin to behave better? It’s obvious that Giuliani and other body camera supporters are in-the-know as to who the body cameras are to be monitoring and scaring into acing appropriately. Why is it that we create then a society that ignores that fact and lies saying there is “police brutality” and that’s the root of the problem? That is a band-aid to a much larger social problem. This lie prevents talking about the problems which in turn creates a structural bias that prevents proper societal dialogue from progressing and removing these biases.
White Guilt: McWhorter made one statement in particular that struck a chord with me and reverberates throughout every aspect of what I see in human relations. That the “person you pity is some one you might like, but not some one you respect”. He mentions this in discussing how “white-guilt” (specifically the brand that I believe has flourished after the social elites interpreting of the book An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy) has become more harmful then helpful to the black community. I often encounter this problem in dealings with liberals whom I believe are more surface level aware of race then I am. The ones who first notice race, then the person, oppose to person then the race (not good when narratives come into play sub-consciously). This has bled over to create some extremely non-progressive programs like Affirmative Action which tries guaranteeing results and not opportunity (opportunity being the more complex and tougher problem to fix, one which isn’t as glamorous or simple enough for average voters to understand in time for election season.) In what other aspect of society, besides race relations, is pity a successful replacement for helping when it comes to making us all contributing members in loving society.
Schooling: We’re all sponges of culture, this is fact and can be proven many ways. For whatever reasons this common sense was proven after blame needed to be placed for detainee torcher allegations were raised from Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The Stanford Prison Experiment conclusively proved that environmental factors contribute in large part (if not entirely) to ones actions. Therefore if a structure, social or physical, is in place that could create bias, then an individual has very little ability to counter the prevailing bias. This causes only those extremely gifted in one thing or another the ability to break from these biases. What McWhorter suggests is causing the large scale black disparity in education is the same thing that’s now bleeding over to the society at large. Our media for instance – which has an entire academic discipline devoted to it, as misguided as it may be – creates the narrative of a successful and educated black person as trying to be white, homosexual, or as an Uncle Tom. Thanks to ignorant viewers and either mischievous or ignorant gate keepers within the media, nowadays the only educated and straight standing males are gay or social rejects (think Big Bang Theory). Yet stroll down any “Self Help” section of a book store and you’ll find that people are needing to be told that it’s okay to be smart, they just need to find a role model. Is this structure really leveling the playing field or is it causing negative consequences? Why is the intellectual / educated individual v popular culture individual gap starting to look like the Black v White gaps of the past? Pop culture makes it seem that in order to be cool you have to listen to socially destructive music, degrade other groups people that are different from yourself, live for the moment(think rap lyrics and Budweiser advertising), and stay far away from real education and books. The Book The Shape of the River: Long-term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions sheds light on the after effects of Affirmative action as it stands now. While most reviews of the book seem to be from those who’ve only read the flap, the books contents clearly display that this program is lowering standards. McWhorter points out one reviewers comment stating that “it’s important for blacks to be in selective institutions as an OBJECT lesson for the other students…”. Really? Do you think that a normal black couple would want their kids to be accepted into a college to serve as an object lesson to the white kids? That in turn would create black-backlash further separating the racial divide.
McWhorter points out the success blacks are having academically in Charter schools. His response to a specific question didn’t allow for much conversation. He believes it’s due to the avoidance of the narratives of blacks not being academically inclined that persists in many more racially diverse schools. It’s because of this I support segregation on many levels at this time while leveling opportunity. Although he does call for a changing of the word segregation since it’s tied to a problematic history, I agree. Today there is nothing wrong with an all black Charter School if the result is that more blacks within that community receive a good education and have better integration rates into the larger society.
Questions at the end: The 80 year old gentleman who mentions that black lower class members have been isolated and ignored by American society hit the nail on the head. I fear the a re-introduction as-is will cause the well-intentioned yet ignorant WHITE Americans on the side of white heritage (which I am, I love my white heritage) to display backlash in their thinking and actions. If we dress this up as post 1974 “diversity is great” mentalities then todays rewards to politicians like former French President Nicolas Sarkozy who operate publicly under this narrative it will give rise to white supremacy groups. I hear in our housing development organizations all the time nowadays that rewards are given to those who can identify “racial segregation” under this narrative on a map and come up with solutions to “enforce” racial diversity in those areas. When certain white members of society find out that the government is going to enforce them to live next to blacks they pull from the Medias narrative of the violent blacks and will naturally want to revert to racism of days past. If instead they learned that there are blacks already living near by who go to similar schools and churches and that these blacks have more in common to themselves then it would be a non-issue.