A Tale of 2 Cities and Their School Systems

There is a battle going on, between differing policies and philosophies on how to deal with school violence in the wake of the past instances of school violence which have left several kids killed or wounded.  Zero tolerance rules have become the  norm around the country but at the same time a movement has sprung up to limit, bar or remove disciplinary action to black kids.  The statistics say that black children face a higher percentage of disciplinary action than any other race or ethnicity, which has been blamed for the higher instance of criminality, poorer scholastic performance, continued poverty,  teenage pregnancy, and gang participation.

As a parent I understand the need and urge to do anything possible to protect our children but are these policies the way to go some of the most notable examples from Wikipedia include:

  • Sandusky, Ohio high school student was suspended for 90 days and flunked, after school authorities found a broken pocketknife on him during a drug search in September 1999. He had used the knife to clean his golfing cleats.
  • After bringing a Cub Scouts dinner knife to school to eat his lunch, a six-year-old boy was ordered by Christina School District to attend an alternative school for students with behavioral problems for nine weeks. After a media uproar, the school board voted unanimously to reduce punishments for kindergartners and first-graders who take weapons to school to a 3-5 day mandatory suspension, retaining the original definition of “weapons”
  • A third-grade girl, also in the Christina School District, was expelled for a year because her grandmother sent a birthday cake, and a knife for cutting the cake, to school. The teacher used the knife to cut the cake, and then reported the girl to the authorities as having a dangerous weapon. The expulsion was overturned and led to a state law that gave districts the ability to, “on a case-by-case basis, modify the terms of the expulsion.”
  • Other cases in the Christina School District include a straight-A student who was ordered to attend “reform school” after a classmate dropped a pocket knife in his lap, and in 2007, when a girl was expelled for using a utility knife to cut paper for a project.
  • Earlier in 2009, an Eagle scout was suspended for three weeks for having an emergency supply kit in his car, that included a pocket knife.
  • A kindergartner was suspended in March 2010 for making a finger gun.
  • A kindergartner was suspended for 10 days in January, 2013 for referring to “shooting” a friend with a Hello Kitty bubble making gun. The suspension was reduced to two days after the parent met with school officials.
  • A second grader was suspended in March 2013 for biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a mountain, which school officials mistook for a gun.

All of the above case involved a weapon, or what some could considered a weapon of some sort but they are reported cases of suspensions and expulsions for having cough drops, Midol, ibuprofen and Tylenol all over the counter drugs that treat headaches or cramps.  These policies are not new they been around since the 90’s and though there is no empirical evidence of their effectiveness they are here to stay but they were confined to school and their grounds.

Among the biggest criticism of Zero tolerance policies is that It’s not about safety, it’s about control. Last week 3 students in the Virginia Beach City Public School System were given long-term suspensions for the rest of the school year, a decision which was upheld by the School Board but will revisit in January.  What was the crime they committed they were playing with AirSoft guns in their front yard while waiting for the Bus to school which was located about 70 yards or 3/4 of a Football field away.  How was the school informed of the kids “transgressions”? There were 2 incidents, the first one the next door neighbor, whose son was participating, called 911 to report that the kids were playing with the AirSoft guns.  She knew they were not real guns and told the 911 dispatcher but was uncomfortable with the boys target shooting “Zombies” in the neighbors yards.  The kids were shooting at a target on a tree with a net behind it to catch the plastic BB’s that were propelled by the spring-loaded AirSoft guns.

It was an incident 3 days later that got the boys in trouble, they were playing an AirSoft war in the yard, the 3 that got suspended and 3 other kids, the next door neighbor and 2 other kids.  During the war,  a motorist observed one of the kids chasing the other and call 911.  The police then called the school and even though the actions happened in a private property and not on school grounds or the bus stop the school decided suspending the 3 kids with the guns but not the other 3 kids that were playing  that day.   Aside from the sensibilities of the neighbor and the passing motorist, no one was hurt but it made no difference to the school, which is asserting that its actions are being done with protecting the children, which includes the bus stop or in this case the way to the bus stop. You can read the local station’s story for more details, Here:

What happened to the time when the parents would discipline our children? Have we evolved to the point that schools are ipso parentis? But as we know all Zero Tolerance policies are not equal.  The Miami-Dade School system also has a Zero Tolerance policy, you can read it here; their disciplinary policy has added tiers by which they can manipulate the policy, while still claiming to follow a Zero Tolerance policy.  The problem in their system is that too many of students are running foul of the Zero Tolerance rules, particularly black males.  As has been noted in past posts, the Miami-Dade  County Schools through their School Police (MDSP-D) manipulated data, falsified incident reports to minimize the incidence of crime referrals, suspensions and expulsions of black males in their system.

Trayvon Martin was a beneficiary of MDSP-D’s lack of observance to their Zero Tolerance policy, on one report for instance, Mr. Martin was caught with a screwdriver (a concealed  weapon), drug paraphernalia, marijuana and stolen property.  According to school policy any of these could warrant and expulsion but to avoid that the screwdriver was labelled a burglary tool, the drugs, became residue, the stolen jewelry was now found property and under the $300 limit, which would have upped it to a felony charge.  Had a search of his cell phone been conducted hundreds pictures of Mr. Martin sexting, Mr. Martin in possession of a live firearm, as well as texts about buying and selling them, more drugs would have been discovered, of course they would have to decipher the files systems since Mr. Martin kept this in secret files.

In Virginia Beach, 3 teens one White, one Black and one Black Hispanic are suspended for the entire school year for playing with spring-loaded plastic guns in their yard, in Miami Gardens the school police is committing fraud to prevent another teen from being expelled because he is Black and too many were, so they needed to lower the stats.

On September 17th, the latest version of GTA 5 (Grand Theft Auto) was released to the public within 24 hours it had 1 Billion dollars in sales.  The video game it is said to be the pulse of popular culture, in it one of the activities that the 3 characters can do besides the usual shooting, racing and fighting, is watch tv, the games own TV channel.  Watching the channel there is a cartoon episode of the game’s super Hero called Impotent Rage, warning for language:

Like the super Hero, his attempts to correct what he thinks is wrong, usually cause more harm than good, much like Zero Tolerance rules, that are applied or not arbitrarily.  But also like the super hero, when does issues arise, instead of fixing them, most resort to empty gestures, while ignoring the issue altogether.  The MDSP-D got awards from the NAACP for its actions, Trayvon Martin is getting honored and has a Foundation in his name, so we can forget trying to find out what cause the issue and how to solve the problems.  We can penalize kids playing with toy guns, while ignoring those that play with real ones, we can’t appear racist.  If all else fails send in a donation to the Trayvon Martin Foundation and your conscience  will clear.


Civil liberties and Mental Health a thin line.

Earlier this month the internet was ablaze over a rumor that Jack Nicholson was retiring because of memory problems.  Jack is considered one of the best actors, certainly of late 20th century and has the distinction of being the only actor to be nominated for an Oscar in every decade since the 60’s. His first Oscar was for the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975 for his portrayal of  Randle “Mac” McMurphy  a small time criminal serving time at a Labor Farm who gets transferred to the Mental Hospital where he feels he can serve his time in the relaxed hospital atmosphere.  The film which was based on the novel with the same name published in 1962 went on to win several Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Director but it is the subject of film which I want to discuss.

The book was published 1962, though it was written in 1959 by Ken Kessey and was based on his observations, communications with patients at the psychiatric facility he worked the graveyard shift on in Oregon. It came during the Civil Rights movement era and a time when the world was re-evaluating how dealt with mental patients. It aimed to humanize mental patients while at the same time condemn the practices of the staff in their treatment of their patients. In this area the book was a great success and has been cited by many as helping the Deinstitutionalisation movement.

Prior to this mental patients were institutionalized at Mental Hospitals run by the States.  In other words they were removed from society at large until they could rejoin society safely.  While the reasons for moving away from the system that had existed before are many, including the States wanting to shift the cost of care to the Federal government, new psychotic drugs that helped patients lead ordinary lives and the poor conditions in many of these psychiatric facilities but also the understanding of mental illness and developmental disabilities. The issues at facilities like Willowbrook in Staten Island, NY and its deplorable conditions and books and films depicting these problems made the Deinstitutionalization Movement unstoppable.  To this day closed Insane Asylums or Mental Hospitals are a favorite of Hollywood as a setting for horror movies even though the reference is not deserved.

The ideal was that with the advent of better drugs and the higher understanding that mental illness patients would be treated at community clinics or hospitals, with shorter stays, minimum of cost, at a better service for the patients. It would help remove any stigma attached and allow that person to rejoin society as soon as the medications stabilized them.  Mentally ill people would have advocates to ensure they would be treated as any other minority group and their rights preserved.  The reality is the results are mixed, while there are more people who are mentally ill and are functioning, contributing members of society, we also have thousands that were left homeless, unable to hold a job, or contribute in any way.

Part of the problem is that this new system is mostly dependant on Mentally Ill people to make health decisions that their own illness prevents them from making.  and the advocates that are supposed to look after them at times are more likely to enable a person with mental illness to remain homeless, living on the streets than assist or aid to have them involuntarily place at a facility, if they are against it.  It has also put restrictions of family members who are trying to aid them, requiring them to jump through hoops before help can be provided.

The Baker Act in Florida allows government the ability to send someone for evaluation, but a family member would need to get a court order to try to do the same at the hearing if the patient is not obviously psychotic chances are the Judge would deny the order.  Regardless the system is a catch and release system as, except on extreme cases all patients are eventually released, to a family member, a half-way house or even the streets.  Or in some cases jail, as they have become our mental institutions as a Human Rights Watch reports in 2003 that up to 56% of US inmates suffer from some mental Illness.

With the Naval Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis, also being a person who had sought or had received mental health treatment  in his case for an obvious psychotic episode, hearing voices and believing that neighbors were shooting microwaves into his brain, perhaps it is time we re-evaluate our Mental Health system, including the Supreme Courts decision in 1978 in O’Connor vs. Donaldson that a state cannot constitutionally confine a non-dangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by themselves or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends.  As Alexis has shown, he too, was thought to be non-dangerous until he got a shotgun and other weapons and decided to shoot-up the Naval Yard.

Mark O’Mara, George Zimmerman’s former attorney wrote a post on his blog. The Trouble With Using Mental Health as a Qualification for Gun Ownership he argues against the passing of any law that uses Mental Health as a criteria and makes some great points.  Perhaps rather than take away someone’s right we can just delay them, have a doctors  certify the person?  I am not sure if anything can be worked out in that regard except that our Mental Health system needs to improve.  No one can predict the next tragedy,  but sometimes the signs are there if we look at them.

As the Zimmerman case has shown the State is willing to suspend the civil liberties of a person when it suits it, and I am not advocating that be done with mentally ill people.  Everyone knew the Mental Health system was flawed, its time we pay attention.  Banning guns will not get rid of guns, and as the terrorist attack in Kenya showed us again, a gun-free zone is a slaughter waiting to happen.

Obama, Zimmerman, Shepard and our Agenda Driven Media

Last Tuesday President Obama gave a televised speech to the Nation which culminated, at least for now our official involvement in the Syrian civil war.  That was not what made the speech different but that at the time we were making the speech, which was a plea to change the minds of the people and support military intervention in Syria,  we had already washed our hands of the whole issue. and had punted to the Russians.  This was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.  The media which had been protective of its President, and had not allowed dissension finally let loose and the criticism was coming from everywhere.  Think Progress tried to turn the debacle around by proclaiming the Administration’s strategy brilliant in letting the Russians deal with it.  It failed, its readers themselves mocked the article, how can you be brilliant to something that happened inadvertently and that leaves the things as they are.  After all we were told, quoting  professor Victor Davis Hanson, we needed to bomb Syria, maybe send troops to: a) help the rebels, b) destroy WMD, c) punish Assad for using WMD, d) warn others not to use WMD, e) remove him, f) weaken him, g) restore U.S. credibility, h) restore mostly Barack Obama’s lost credibility, i) thwart Russia, j) show Iran, k) welcome in Russia, l) ignore Iran, m) create stability after Assad’s departure, n) not  get involved after Assad’s departure, o) sort out good rebels from bad ones, etc.?

This is after we were told until November of 2011 that Assad was a reformer, as such we could not help the Moderate insurgents.  Now that we are 21/2 years into the insurgency and now that up to 75% of the insurgents are hard-core radicals, affiliated with Al queda who we are still fighting in Afghanistan, do we want to send weapons and bomb President Assad.  But never fear the Russians are going to save our butts, Russia which has been supplying weapons to Assad and has a naval base in Tartarus Syria, will with the help of the UN get rid of the WMDs in Syria, so we can go on our merry way.  This is what Think Progress was calling brilliant.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Crime Prevention Act or better know as the Matthew Shepard Act was signed by President Obama in 2009,  the measure expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and it removes the Federal government restriction to federally protected activities was a great victory for the LBGT community.  James Byrd whose name appears in the legislation but is lesser known was a man dragged behind a pick-up truck by 3 white supremacists leaving parts of his body all along the 3 mile stretch that he was dragged in Jasper, Tx in 1998. The killers were caught 2 were sentenced to death row and the other will be serving a life sentence for this racially motivated gruesome and mostly forgotten murder.

Matthew Shepard for which the Act is known was a gay student at the University of Wyoming, in October 1998, he accepted a ride from two acquaintances who drove him into the woods to a secluded area and then proceeded to torture him, leaving him for death, all because he was gay and made a pass at one of them, who pretended to be gay.  At least that was the story that the Media would recite non-stop for years to come.  Shepard became a cause celebre among celebrities who wrote songs, plays , books and movies all depicting that basic story, a young man who is struggling with his homosexuality and pays the ultimate price for it, after suffering horrendous torture.

But now a  new book coming out next week by investigative journalist Stephen Jiminez put all that doubt to say the least.  As Austin Ruse writes:

Almost everything you think you know about the Matthew Shepard narrative is false.

“Almost immediately Shepard became a secular saint, and his killing became a kind of gay Passion Play where he suffered and died for the cause of homosexuality against the growing homophobia and hatred of gay America.

Indeed, a Mathew Shepard industry grew rapidly with plays and foundations along with state and even national hate crimes legislation named for him. Rock stars wrote songs about him, including Elton John and Melissa Etheridge. Lady Gaga performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” and changed the lyrics to include Shepard.

Thanks to a new book by an award-winning gay journalist we now know that much of this narrative turns out to be false, little more than gay hagiography.”

Shepard was not attacked because he was gay, one of his attackers was a gay lover. Shepard was a meth dealer, whose lover on a 5 day binge on Meth attacked him to get Shepard to tell him where his drugs were.  This should not come as a surprise as an ABC 20/20 special made similar claims.  The problem is that this Narrative was inconvenient so it was ignored.  It was just another instance of false but accurate as Dan Rather would say. Then end result is we have a new law, that empowers the Federal government to interfere further in local crime issues, based on a lie.  Ironically the one person that did suffer a “hate crime” is barely remembered, James Byrd.

There have been other instances where the Media has played a substantial part in manipulating the story by either repeating its version or ignoring that which would put it in doubt, as a commenter listed below;

The Scopes Monkey Trial?

Fraud. They hired a substitute teacher to SPECIFICALLY say something to a class that was never “his”, because they KNEW it would get him “fired” and provide grounds for the Suit they WANTED, but didn’t have an actual legitimate CASE to pursue.

Rosa Parks?

Same thing. A planned event, discussed in advance, and the most ‘sympathetic” participant chosen to carry it out. She wasn’t just some poor woman ” too tired” to get up and move from her seat, she got on that bus SPECIFICALLY to challenge that law…Honorable endeavor? Yes. An “organic, spontaneous” event? No, but they PRETEND it was, because it’s a better “sell”

Roe vs Wade?

Sure, theoretically, IF a woman was raped, and IF she needed an abortion…but the “plaintiff” in that case was neither…they lied, fabricated the circumstances to “fit” a particular “theoretical” line to best win a Supreme Court Challenge. Poor woman raped, and forced to carry her attackers baby to term? No, but it makes a good “theory” doesn’t it? The fact that the actual Female Plaintiff in Roe vs Wade became so soured by the Rabidly Pro-Abortion Advocates who used and discarded her for Political Purposes eventually became a pro-life supporter, is somehow never mentioned in “The Narrative”

The crowning jewel to those is of course the election of President Obama in 2008, nobody can deny how the media elevated this practically unknown Junior Senator from Illinois into the next coming of the Messiah.  In fact some did call him that.  He was a Harvard Law Professor, no, he was a part-time lecturer, he was a great writer, no, his book was ghost written,  he is the most intelligent, the sharpest dresser, his speeches are best ever given, he will heal the world and he is black.  Nothing negative could said, printed or aired about him.  In fact most did not investigate him at all, his grades, who knows, his health, his background all were ignored.  Now 5 years later some are waking up to the fact that the President is a “lightweight”, that loftily rhetoric was just that loftily words read out of a teleprompter with no meaning.  The Obama Doctrine ” leading from behind” is nothing more than an excuse to let others make the hard decisions allowing him to not make any.

Yesterday Sybrina Fulton was scheduled to testify before Congress, she is seeking support for Trayvon’s Law, which modifies the Stand Your Ground laws in effect in several states.  She also wants the provision that indemnities people who have successfully defended themselves from charges in Civil Court.  The mass shooting at the Naval Yard have prevented this from happening or at least has delayed it.  The question is should she have been given the opportunity in the first place.

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy, but it was one of his own making.  It has been the media portrayal of Martin which has allowed this continue.  From the beginning the media has tried to portrayed Martin as a cherubic 12-14 year-old and Zimmerman as a burly out of control bully.  During the trial it tried to hype that which supported the prosecution, which was minimal, and downplay or ignore that which supported the defense, which was overwhelming.  After the verdict, the jury composition, which almost universally was thought to benefit the prosecution was questioned.  Now anything that happens regarding the case is turned into a bash Zimmerman story.  Will it take ten years for an intrepid investigative journalist to actually did into the case, explore the familial ties of Martin, examine his own text and the testimony of Rachel Jeantel who at the last appearance admitted that it was Martin that struck Zimmerman first, though she saw nothing wrong with it.  Will someone investigate whether it was a case of homophobic bashing as it was inferred in court testimony, that Martin by his own admission is just a low-level drug dealer with a short temper, who saw Zimmerman as an easy prey.

While I wait I will have to just grin and bear to watch the Fulton’s and Martins pretend their son was someone else to maintain the illusion that America is still racist, and we need yet another law, this time name after a minor thug who got himself killed but no one is willing to admit, because doing so will make us racist.

The Zimmerman Obsession

In a nationally televised speech President Obama, who was trying to make a case for military intervention in Syria had this to say;

And so to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just.

To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.

In case you missed it, the President’s friends on the Left believe in freedom and dignity (Trayvon Martin and his family),  while those on the right are only committed to America’s military might (gun-toting Zimmerman). That is how the Zimmerman story was sold to the public, a young child should be free to walk home from the store and not worry about gun-toting, trigger-happy vigilantes bullies.  That this did not bear the closest resemblance to the truth of that night is immaterial, the truth is what you make of it.

Some of my friends who identify with the left, are put out that members of the Zimmerman family are now embroiled in right-leaning media outlets, after all they are left leaning and they supported Zimmerman.  But there lies in the problem with labels, you can be socially liberal and conservative in other manners or vice versa.  Polls have consistently shown that Blacks as a group are socially conservative but liberal in towards government policy.  This makes sense since the feeling is that government liberated them and it is that government that keeps them that way.  Again, truth has little to do with it but the perception that counts.

Right now George Zimmerman is a celebrity, though not of his own making, anything he does or say is picked up as news.  But should it? As if the last 18 moths had not been hard enough, he now faces an uncertain future.  He has no money, no job (or prospects of getting one), no home and pretty soon no marriage.  I have tried to avoid the impending divorce of the Zimmermans as I see it as another victim of other people’s agenda, who have use the incident to profit themselves.

Recent revelations that some family members were actively plotting against Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, the lack of closure in the case, the impending unresolved at that time case of perjury against his wife, and all the outside influences providing advice, counsel, reclamations were due to have an effect.  It is hard to imagine how it had to be for someone to spend over a year. on a 6am to 6pm curfew, hiding, trying to avoid looking at the news, your future in limbo and all your plans shattered.

Zimmerman has lost more than any can imagine, and I can see why young Shellie Zimmerman may want to branch out in life.  Trayvon Martin, though dead, has a Foundation in his name, streets are named after him, as may laws, he universally seen as a victim, the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona wants to name an asteroid after him, the TM061 which had been discovered in 2000 but had remained unnamed. But none of these is enough, the sharks are still circling for blood.

Whether you feel that Zimmerman instigated the incident by following Trayvon or not, the fact remains that Zimmerman is a victim of a vicious attack that at least in his mind left him with no choice but to pull out his gun and shoot. Of a society that glamorize violence, sexism, nihilism but is too afraid to say, hey that is just too much.  By a society, that divides everything into left or right, rather right or wrong.  By a society who is skeptical about religion, but believes in vampires, ghosts and aliens.  A society that willingly blinds itself to the truth, if it is inconvenient, it the right people say so.  A society that allows ourselves to be divided by emotion, disregarding consequences.  It was emotion that drove Trayvon to attack Zimmerman and to continue attacking him, even after John Goode had told him to stop.  It is emotion that the President was using to try to get the Nations approval for a military strike. just as it was emotion that the prosecution was counting on to convict Zimmerman.

It is these same obsessive emotions that keep us hounding Zimmerman, let’s give the man a break.


Zimmerman a conversation on History

A few weeks ago after  George Zimmerman was pronounced not guilty by the jury and uproar that this had cause the President had the following to say;

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.

And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a – and a history that – that doesn’t go away.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact.

Although, black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that, some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country. And that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

History as in an event or events that had passed.  We know the shameful history of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow that was persistent in the country, just 50 years ago.  Discrimination was institutionalize for all blacks in the country, how severe would depend on the geographical location but it was inescapable.  Let’s flash forward 50+ years and evaluate things today, as they are not, as they were, perhaps we can determine how we can how we can continue to move forward because the Zimmerman verdict still says that we have a way to go.

Jonathan Cohen completed his 3 part series of articles regarding the Zimmerman case and its aftermath, in his last installment he spoke primarily about the history of Blacks in this country since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act which finally  brought equality to blacks   at least in a legal form. He writes;

        … In spite of the passage of the civil rights laws of the 1960’s and progress made by blacks over the last 50 years, events such as the Zimmerman trial reveal to what extent we are still two separate societies. The explanation that would be given by most black commentators is the persistence of racism. The basis of disparate impact law is the notion that if imbalances exist in the numbers of minorities in an occupation, the starting assumption is that the reason is racial prejudice. By analogy, if a white Hispanic shoots an unarmed black teenager, the reason is racial animus and the burden of proof is on the white to prove otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.

But maybe this picture is wrong. Perhaps the sources of higher crime rates for blacks, greater percentage of out-of-wedlock births, numbers incarcerated, lower graduation rates at all levels, poorer scores on standardized measures of academic achievement are not the result of institutional racism. What if whites have little ability to affect these problems, particularly if blacks claim a monopoly on the allocation of funds to solve them? For example, if blacks insist on black teachers in black schools, there is not a lot whites can do about improving educational outcomes.

The year 1965 was also a year of departure for the civil rights organizations. Having accomplished its greatest goal, the dismantling of legal segregation, it was faced with the task of how to move forward to advance race relations and help advance the situation of black people in America. What is not usually acknowledged or remembered, let alone understood, is what happened next. Black separatism suddenly became respectable. Freed from the pressures of pleasing whites to simply survive, black identity movements began to thrive. Blacks stopped wearing their hair to look as much like white people as possible as Afros replaced straightened hair. And politically, blacks decided they had to define their own organizations starting with the civil rights organizations that had always been coalitions with sympathetic whites…

…Since racism and sexism were assumed to be the cause of any deficiency in skills, only whites confronting their prejudices and unconscious biases could overcome the deficiencies. Responsibility for improving the educational performance of black youth fell on whites. This never made sense. Anyone involved in teaching knows that it is impossible to teach people who are not invested in the learning process. The deficiencies in English and math skills of black high school graduates were real. For purposes of closing the educational gap between whites and blacks, there was little whites could do unless the students were sufficiently motivated to do the extra work to overcome their lack of academic preparation…
Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/09/the_aftermath_of_the_george_zimmerman_case_part_3_the_weight_of_history.html#ixzz2e3UatR8B

Like my previous post, https://boricuafudd.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/the-consequences-of-separatism-an-ideal-gone-wrong/, Mr. Cohen details how the Civil Rights Movement which had been a multi-racial attempt to achieve equality for everyone got transformed into a separatist and isolationist movement, that aimed to separate Blacks and Whites.  The results of which we are now experiencing.

The “historical” excuse has been used to explain any disparities between the races from political affiliation, poverty, crime, high rates of single mother households, drug use,  A closer historical look at our Society is warranted to see how or if this is true.  First of all, I  am not denying the issues that affected the country 50 years ago, or attempting to minimize its effects on Blacks and other minorities, because clearly they were affected.  I am trying to raise the issue of whether in addressing those problems, our Society went astray somehow. Perhaps then we can rectify the issues, without losing the gains that were accomplished.

To that end, I want to discuss an article by Charles Murray, written a little over a year ago, called Belmont & Fishhook.  For those that don’t know Mr. Murray co-wrote the book the Bell Curve that aimed to show that intelligence, and class, were determined by race and were generic.  He relied heavily on IQ tests which drew criticism as to their real worth in determining “mainstream intelligence” but some of it findings were generally accepted like:

  • IQ scores have high predictive validity for individual differences in school achievement.
  • IQ scores have predictive validity for adult occupational status, even when variables such as education and family background have been statistically controlled.
  • There is little evidence to show that childhood diet influences intelligence except in cases of severe malnutrition.

Since then the field of epigenetics has grown and more is known about the human genome, which has lent some more evidence that some environmental issues can affect the way some genes react, producing more or less on some enzymes that can affect human behavior and traits.

In Belmont & Fishhook Mr. Murray compares two fictional towns, although Fishook is a neighborhood in Philadelphia and provided the statistics for the comparison, from 1960 and today.  While the focus of the essay is what happened in the White population, he does impart figures of the Black community for comparison, it is in those comparisons that most of the prevalent history is found. He breaks the study into 4 areas; Marriage, Industriousness, Honesty and Religiosity. He uses this to conclude that there are 2 new classes of people in the US, that are separate from the rest of Society, one that is the ruling elite and the other a forgotten class, that are different from the rest.

…As recently as half a century ago, Americans across all classes showed only minor differences on the Founding virtues. When Americans resisted the idea of being thought part of an upper class or lower class, they were responding to a reality: there really was such a thing as a civic culture that embraced all of them. Today, that is no longer true. Americans have formed a new lower class and a new upper class that have no precedent in our history. American exceptionalism is deteriorating in tandem with this development.

America has never been a classless society. From the beginning, rich and poor have usually lived in different parts of town, gone to different churches, and had somewhat different manners and mores. It is not the existence of classes that is new, but the emergence of classes that diverge on core behaviors and values—classes that barely recognize their underlying American kinship…

In 1960, extremely high proportions of whites ages 30–49 in both Belmont and Fishtown were married—94 percent in Belmont and 84 percent in Fishtown. The unquestioned norm in both neighborhoods was marriage. In the 1970s, those percentages declined about equally in Belmont and Fishtown. Then came the great divergence. In Belmont, marriage among prime-age adults stabilized during the mid-1980s and remained flat thereafter, standing at 83 percent in 2010. In Fishtown, marriage continued a slide that had not slackened as of 2010, when the percentage of married whites ages 30–49 had fallen to a minority of 48 percent. What had been a 10 percentage point difference between Belmont and Fishtown in the 1960s stood at 35 percentage points in 2010. The culprits—divorce and failure to marry in the first place—split responsibility for the divergence about equally.

Another aspect of marriage showed just as great a divergence: the percentage of children born to unmarried women.Frightened though politicians and media eminences are to say so, nonmarital births are problematic. Children who are born to unmarried women fare worse than the children of divorce and far worse than children raised in intact families even after controlling for the income and education of the parents. The technical literature on that topic is large and damning. The literature on what happens when large proportions of children within a neighborhood are born to unmarried women is less extensive, but the coincidence between that phenomenon and communities that have fallen apart, whether they be in the inner city or rural America, suggests that a large proportion of nonmarital births within a community constitutes a social catastrophe.

In 1960, just 2 percent of all white births were nonmarital. When the Vital Statistics first gave us the mother’s education in 1970, 6 percent of births to white women with no more than a high school education—women with a Fishtown education—were out-of-wedlock. Or to put it another way, 94 percent of such births were within marriage. By 2008, 44 percent were nonmarital. Among the college-educated women of Belmont, less than 6 percent of all births were out of wedlock as of 2008, up from 1 percent in 1970.

Those are the figures for the White community the black community has been hit harder,  to the point that only 30% of births are nonmarital.  He mentions the frightened politicians, but of what? Well, the feminists that grew out of the era and declared that men were optional.  As an irony, most of the higher educated feminist of the period went on to marry and have children, as the stats illustrate but those in the lower class who also followed did not.  This is specially evident in the black community were the majority of households with children are female single parent homes.  Last year a survey by the Washington Post revealed that black women are most likely to accept, condone single parenthood than any other group by 35% points.  They are also the least likely to consider marriage important.

The primary indicator of the erosion of industriousness is the increase of prime-age males with no more than a high school education who say they are not available for work—they are “out of the labor force,” in the jargon. That percentage went from a low of 3 percent in 1968 to 12 percent in 2008, rising steadily during the boom years of the 1980s and 1990s when the labor market had plentiful blue-collar jobs available for anyone who wanted to work. Even those who had jobs worked less—in 1960, only 10 percent of employed Fishtown males worked fewer than 40 hours per week. By 2008, that percentage had doubled. In Belmont, the percentage working fewer than 40 hours per week went from 9 to 12. Again it needs to emphasized: These reductions in work hours occurred in years when men could find work for as many hours as they wanted to work.

Again Mr. Murray figures are for the White community, the figures for the Black community are even darker.  Some areas of the country, for instance the rate of unemployment for young black youths is 60% which the current recession just made worse.  Up to 30% of black males are “out of the workforce” currently, some have criminal records which make getting a job difficult, others just lack the training or education needed to get a job.

Ever since criminology became a discipline, scholars have found that criminals are overwhelmingly drawn from working-class and lower-class neighborhoods—Fishtown. But in 1960, crime was low and the existing differences between Belmont and Fishtown did not impinge on daily life. The real Fishtown in Philadelphia, for example, was an extremely safe place to live in the 1950s (as we know both from a contemporaneous sociological study of the real Fishtown and the living memory of those who grew up in Fishtown in those years). Doors were routinely left unlocked. Children were allowed to play unwatched by their own parents, who knew that neighbors were keeping an eye on them. In the rare instances when a crime did occur, the people of Fishtown knew where to look for the offenders, and often dealt with them without bothering to call the cops.

The surge in crime that began in the mid-1960s and continued through the 1980s left Belmont almost untouched and ravaged Fishtown. From 1960–95, the violent crime rate in Fishtown more than sextupled. When we can first break out imprisonment rates in 1974 (after crime had already been increasing for a decade), there were 215 imprisoned Fishtowners for every 100,000 persons ages 18–65. By the time of the most recent survey of prison inmates in 2004, that number had grown to 965. The comparable figures for Belmont were infinitesimal and flat (13 in 1974, 27 in 2004). Furthermore, the reductions in crime since the mid-1990s that have benefited the nation as a whole have been smaller in Fishtown, leaving Fishtown today with a violent crime rate that is still 4.7 times the 1960 rate.

Black middle class neighborhood throughout the country have disappeared, replace by lawless zones.  Leaving a new class of citizen in its place. One who is less educated, less industrious, more promiscuous, less likely to obey the law and more dependant on government for it daily subsistence.  Christopher Orlet calls it a culture of Poverty as he describes his  experiences of the 2 years he spent living in the inner-city;

The culture of poverty is many things. Actually it is an accumulation of things. Having one of those things doesn’t necessarily mean you are part of that culture. One characteristic of the culture of poverty is the single-parent household. But there are many middle class and even upper class (though fewer) single-parent households that are doing just fine. That is because they have resources unavailable to the poor. Like savings. Lawyers. Reliable transportation.

But if you are a single parent with multiple children by multiple fathers, and a high school dropout, with a record, then chances are you are part of that culture. If you move to a new rental every six months, yanking your kids out of school after school, and if you do drugs in front of your children, and sell your food stamps for cash, then chances are you are part of that culture. If you are 20 years old, living with your grandmother, with no interest in ever getting a job, or getting married, or doing much of anything, chances are you are part of that culture. If you do not have a kitchen table, but you do have a big flat screen TV, and when the social worker comes to visit someone yells, “The social worker is here, go get the light bulb,” then chances are you are part of that culture.

When I moved into the inner-city, I hoped to gain some insight and understanding of the poor and their situation. Two years later I left feeling the situation is intractable. Everything the professional uplifters do for the poor is but pruning the branches, instead of hacking at the roots of the problem. For the underclass to escape the culture of poverty they would have to cease doing most if not all of the above, and I don’t see that happening.

Besides, as I have written before, too many of the underclass enjoy the culture of poverty. They would feel horribly out-of-place in a tony subdivision where they would have to work to make a house and car payment, instead of drinking beer all day on the stoop ― they don’t even have stoops in the suburbs. They would have to cut their lawns and keep the trash and noise to a minimum. What fun is that? In the inner-city you can do whatever the hell you want. You can even shoot somebody, and chances are no one will rat you out, because that is the code of the inner-city streets, and people there hate the cops more than they hate the drug dealers.

Read the rest here; http://spectator.org/archives/2013/08/23/in-another-country

How do you change a culture that has been for years told that they are a victim? That dreams are for fools unless the government hands you  a freebie. A Culture that tells you that unless you can dunk, run fast or rap a song, failure is all you will ever attain. A culture that glamorize violence, tells young women that they are only good for one thing, the gratification of males. A culture that calls anything successful White and as such out-of-bounds.  Who perpetuates  racism, sexism, misogynistic behavior.  Well we can start by forgetting the PC crap we have been told for years and we begin to call a spade a spade.  Trying to sugar-coat things when they are clearly wrong and bad for you and society has gotten us to where we are.  It is time to start publicly shamming those that perpetuate such behavior.  Russell Simmons in his letter to Don Lemmons said that it was good for the young to create their own language and use to communicate but I ask Mr. Simmons who is very successful, what good is for the young to create their own language, when they are failing at school and nobody outside their neighborhood will understand them?

History has dealt the black community a bad hand, there is no doubt of that.  Use this past history as an edge to move forward, not a clutch to be left behind.

Racism, admissions and True Colors

Last week the MTV VMA’s music award ceremony was held in Brooklyn, NY marking again the resurgence of a borough of New York City that is better known for high crime, racial tensions and poverty.  This award show which is no stranger to controversy, added another one to its belt.  What was controversial the performance by former Disney star 20 year-old Miley Cyrus.

During a memorable performance that included large teddy bears, dancers dressed as sexy bears, Miley performing analingus on one of her dancers, plenty of twerking and humping a life-sized teddy bear while she performed her hit single “We can’t stop” an anthem to nihilism and irresponsible behavior of today’s young.  To finish her performance she joined Robin Thicke who was performing his rip-off of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to give it up”  called “Blurred lines” by doing a striptease into flesh-colored bra and underwear and using a large foam finger to continue to simulate sex acts while grinding on Thicke.  Thicke’s own song has been called an excuse for date-rape since it basically says that when a woman say no, she actually means yes, just don’t take her no as an answer.

The reaction was swift from the mildly condemning of “pitchy strippers” (Kelly Clarkson) referring to Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga who also did her own striptease to people calling Miley’s performance a modern-day “minstrel” (a parody done by white performers, dressed in black-face and stereotyping of blacks) and racist performance by Jody Rosen, Slate’s magazine music editor, author and journalist for Entertainment Weekly, the New Yorker and Rolling Stones magazine.

So what was Miley’s great sin, well let’s see what Kia Makarechi at the Huffington Post has to say about it:

“I’ve written about Miley’s race problems (or, racism, depending on how you take it), but here’s a quick summary: She’s gone around telling people she wants to make music that ‘sounds black,’ that she likes ‘hood music’ but isn’t ‘a white Nicki Minaj,’ and most recently proclaimed that she’s ‘not a white ratchet girl.’ Extending her master class on racial identity to social media, she told her followers that she is, indeed, aware of her skin color. The 20-year-old’s VMAs performance marks another chapter not only in Miley’s reckless use of black culture as proof that she’s subversive and no longer a Disney star, but of the entertainment industry’s casual co-signing of her team’s idiocy. How did no one, for example, think that having voluptuous, black backup dancers figure as meat for Cyrus’ slapping was offensive?”

So let’s read between the lines, Hip Hop is “hood music”  and black culture and while Miley’s antics were mild compared to a Rihanna concert, or Miley’s own idol, Lil’ Kim Miley’s attempt at it is misguided, racist and demeaning to women because she is white.  Lost in all the criticism of racism is the admission that Hip Hop and by  extension and the critics own admission, is the acknowledgement that this “ratchet culture” is detrimental to young people.  Ironic that a semi-comical overboard performance by the daughter of a Christian, country music former star, has the left admitting that the culture the Progressives have been promoting is influential and damaging to their biggest supporters, young impressionable teenagers.

This week we also heard an admission that public schools are failing and that the only solution at least in the writers estimation is to shame parents into putting their kids into bad or mediocre public schools, so that the pressure from good parents will be enough to override the  lack of participation by current parents. It might take several generations but the schools will eventually improve. She includes the obligatory mention of extra funds for the schools, but in reality this is an admission that parental involvement is the most important difference in school performance.

Speaking of education, Betsy Karasik writing for the Washington Post, that we need to give teachers a break when they have sexual relations with students, to protect the students , of course.  She feels that punishing the teachers is harsh, and the stigma the students will have to live with, is worse than if we just leave them alone .  This refers to the outrage some have felt after the Montana teacher, Stacey Dean Rambold was sentenced to 30 days in jails for his admission that he raped a 14 year-old girl who later went on to commit suicide. In sentencing Rambold the Judge G. Todd Baugh said the victim “was older than her chronological age” and “was as much in control of the situation” as the teacher, so he suspended all but 30 days of the teachers 15 year sentence with credit for 1 day he had served in jail.

I wonder if that exception extends to priests who teach, because I seem to recall quite an uproar when those scandals were going on, or perhaps religion, just changes the equation. Age is such an ephemeral thing,  a  3 year-old can determine if he is transgender, and 14 year-old’s can consent for sex but a 17 year-old (Trayvon Martin) is nothing but a child who should not be held responsible for his actions.

In one week, we had a controversial VMAs because a young white performer did what many other black performers do onstage, that drew cries of racism, we got confirmation that parenting impacts education, sex between teachers and their underage students should be overlooked or the laws revisited and penalties removed after all nobody dies in these cases.  Oh and by the way our Nobel Prize winning President wants to start a 3rd War in the Middle East, this time in Syria.