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.


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