April 7, 2012

Talking about The Talk

The Los Angeles Times recently ran one of the many articles about The Talk that black parents in our racist society have to give their black sons to keep them from being gunned down by white racist cops:
When Martin A. Gordon talks to his 19-year-old son about the history of race relations in America, he invokes the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King Jr.and the watershed moments of the civil rights era. It's a story of hard-won rights that fills the '60s-era activist with pride. 
Then the conversation turns urgently personal, survival its theme: On the wrong street, at the wrong time of day, he tells his son, pride might be his undoing. "I know my son can be a moment away from being killed if he acts the wrong way, if he's arrogant," Gordon said. "He started to learn about this as a child." ... 
The incident, which remains under investigation, followed the controversial shooting death of an unarmed black teen in Florida by a neighborhood watch leader. For many black parents, the shootings have given fresh relevance to a painful generations-old conversation. "The Talk," some call it.
"Certain things are a reality for him — he needed to understand that early on," Jim Collins, a longtime Pasadena resident, recalled of his conversation with his son. "The Talk is because they have to know what to do and not do." 
Parents say some version of the conversation, ubiquitous in African American life, is necessary regardless of how high they climb on the socioeconomic ladder. It is about learning to say "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" when a policeman pulls you over, no matter how unjustified the stop seems. It is about keeping your hands on the steering wheel and giving officers no cause for panic. It is about swallowing your anger and pride and coming home alive. ...
Walker said that when his grandson, now 20, was learning to drive a few years ago, he started hammering home certain realities about dealing with police. 
"I tell him one of the worst things to do is be belligerent with police," Walker said. "Whether you're right or not."

My sons aren't black, but I have given them the exactly same Talk about cops, although mine was probably less polite toward cops. I made ensure to emphasize that "Cops have guns, with which, if you piss them off or make them feel uneasy, they might kill you. The kind of people who become cops have personalities where they want to dominate others around them. (If they just wanted to save people, they could have become firemen.) So, let them. Remember, cops have guns."

When a federal agent and a deputy in plain clothes "debriefing" after serving a drug bust behind a fashionable watering hole in my neighborhood gunned down an 18-year-old violist, I couldn't find out the names of the two shooters for many months after the killing. The thick blue line had formed up pretty solid. As far as I can tell, this shooting, which is still being litigated (so far as I know) was about as ambiguous as the Trayvon Martin shooting. But the victim in my local shooting was white, so, basically, nobody cared other than friends and family in the other end of the San Fernando Valley and few locals from my end.  Media coverage was grudging and never made local TV much less the national news. 

Similarly, nobody considers it a national disgrace and tragedy, a violation of everything that Martin and Malcolm died for, that I felt the need to give The Talk to my sons. Of course, in a sane world, that would raise the question of whether our culture's obsession with black victimization doesn't, on the whole, contribute to more knuckleheaded behavior on the part of young blacks. There are a whole bunch of people in modern America, such as Josh Barro, who benefit in terms of status from punishing other people for noticing the bad behavior of young black males. With all the influential people who benefit from bad black behavior and thus encourage it and/or punish those who discourage, then, not surprisingly, we get a lot of bad black behavior. 


Anonymous said...

Even HISTORICALLY SPEAKING, relatively very few blacks got killed by cops. In fact, a black guy has better chance of living after calling cops 'pigs' than calling another black guy a n...

Foseti said...

I'm pretty depressed by this Derbyshire situation (it's either that or all the booze I've been drinking today). I hope he's doing ok.

I don't really understand why this particular article crossed the line and his other ones didn't. I guess the Left just decided he needed to go and with Lowry in charge at National Review, the Left calls the shots at National Review.

Anonymous said...

Heh. You forgot to mention Derbyshire's article.

Also, see where someone shot a retarded white guy in questionable circumstances and nothing much is being done.

Anonymous said...

"The kind of people who become cops have personalities where they want to dominate others around them."

Maybe this was true at some point, but my experience with cops has never like this. Most cops wanna be left alone and don't even feel like getting out of the squad car to write the police report. They just wanna eat donuts and drink coffee.

Anonymous said...

I think the Derby story is great. We should have more like it. Liberals are attacking 'racism', but I think it will just draw more people to takimag and contrarian views. I just hope the Derb doesn't apologize.

Anonymous said...

National Review is so over. In the online world, I doubt if any real conservative goes to NRO site. It's so dull.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, NRO wouldn't have fired the Derb if not for the firestorm. In fact, they were keeping him around as a token paleo-con or bio-con. But once the controversy got started, NR got cold feet.

Anonymous said...

Barro wants to follow in the footsteps of Noel Ignatiev, i.e. be a poor scholar but come up with a crappy theory that fits into the larger agenda and then get quoted ad nauseum by middle-brow fools

Ignatiev was the guy who started how the Irish became white foolishness.

The Irish were always white, including the Catholics. But to how the Irish got treated bad one needs to talk about class, and how white people can sometimes be poor. Cultural Marxists hate talking honestly about class worse than GOPers, I think. Reminds me of the stuttering and spluttering Cornel West did when someone asked him whether college entrance affirmative action should be also class based.

Poor white people are the elephant in the room, the kind of people who also get harassed by the cops. Nobody particularly cares about that, or their plight, though, until poor whites are trotted out to make a point about solidarity, see Enimem, or are used as villains.

Anonymous said...

Blacks can say whatever they want about cops, but the truth is, by far and away, the biggest danger to black males is OTHER black males.

Chicago said...

The talk should really be about how to avoid being killed by another black. They should be informed about the dangers posed by blacks and how to act whenever they are present in the environment. Don't look directly at them, be careful not to diss them, watch out for groups coming down the sidewalk, etc etc. The talk is of benefit to all people, whether White, Asian, Hispanic, Black or anything else, but it would be of greatest value to Blacks since they seem to be in the greatest danger from their own homies.
Of course, the talk should inform them to also not be a perpetrator. After all, for every victim there's a perpetrator.

Anonymous said...

Anyonymous 5:23, Atkins seems to be a "white hispanic" a la ZImmerman, his Mexican nephew seems plenty pissed about the situation on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/dunkefresh602

Carol said...

I started going back to NRO after forgetting about it for a long time..but it is boring. Funny how Derb's posts usually gets the most comments.

vanderleun said...

Interesting that the mouthbrreathers at NRO are all lining up against the truth of his article to say, "Hey, not us. We don't believe a word of it." Liars all of them.

formerly no name said...

Remember Sammy and Vicki Weaver!

Anonymous said...

Steve, do you ever listen to Adam Carolla's podcast? He's talked about this recently...

DYork said...

"I tell him one of the worst things to do is be belligerent with police," Walker said.

Not even remotely close to being as unwise as being belligerent to another black male.

But I belabor the obvious.

No Name said...

I know there are probably some arrogant dickhead Cops but on the whole these guys are doing jobs most of us don't want to do. That is, enforcing the law at some risk to themselves.

Is it too much just to keep your temper - be polite - and answer a cop's questions?

Snippet said...

>>> I'm pretty depressed by this Derbyshire situation (it's either that or all the booze I've been drinking today). I hope he's doing ok.

I doubt he's worried about getting fired from The New Republic or whatever....

I new it would happen, and I'm guessing so did he. He is even smarter than I am.

Bottoms up!

Anonymous said...

I don't know Derb but he doesn't strike me as naive. His presentation on race realism at Vanderbilt U (?) was equally provocative and blunt.

I'm not sure what a 'position' at NR means in cold hard cash for someone at Derb's stage of life. But hopefully will give him raise.

One of the funniest things, wading through the 700 comments at Taki mag, was the mortification of people encountering the Atl Right or even reactionaries for the first time. One commentor even expressed sorrow for the owners of the blog. She obviously has not had the pleasure of meeting Mr Theodoracopulos.

Gilbert Pinfold

NOTA said...

i think Steve's advice for dealing with the cops is more or
less right. Presumably most cops aren't looking for someone to beat up or kill, but policing is a job that attracts the kind of guys who like having power, and a lot of police forces protect guys who periodically beat the hell out of someone for mouthing off, plant evidence, and do all kinds of other crap.

My guess is that this is another place where the internet doing an end run around traditinal media (who needed to stay on the cops' good side for various reasons) is going to radically change common ideas and beliefs--police misconduct is becoming a hell of a lot more visible thanks to Youtube and such, and lots more people will be having thwt talk with their kids as a result.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, this guy didn't get the right Talk.

Anonymous said...

In the current Tulsa hate shooting, will the police catch a white man, driving an "older" white pickup truck, or rather a man wearing a white shirt?

AllanF said...

Exactly. Check out this white man being hounded by a bad cop: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/31/drug-search-trekies-stopped-searched-illinois_n_1364087.html

However, he remained respectful and wasn't in danger of being shot. Now, he is able fight back against the bad cop, by going public with the cop's own video of the injustice. He hasn't been taught since being a toddler that any cop that hates him is because he's a Trekkie. He understands like we all do there's simply bad cops out there. Blacks would be much better served if they didn't believe all the world's injustices fall on them alone.

Anonymous said...

My brother and brother in-law are cops. Although they are not like this they say many cops join up because they don't like to ever have to back down and of course as cops they don't have to. But that's only part of it. Cops are trained to control the situation no matter what and that means if you don't comply they will quickly bring 2X force to bare on whatever behavior they object to. BTW, a few years back I was driving on the freeway and a CHP pulled in behind me and put on his light. I knew i wasn't speeding and I had not changed lanes in some time so I had no idea why I was being pulled over. But what was really strange was as soon as I realized the officer was black, I had this very powerful, irrational wave of anger and outrage sweep over me. I was sure I was being pulled over because I WAS WHITE! Fortunately this feeling had passed by the time the officer had walked up to my car. The guy actually turned out to be one of the most professional officers I have ever dealt with, but it was a real eye opener to see how blacks might feel (and why) at being stopped by white officers. The reason I was stopped is the DMV had forgotten to send me new registration tags:)

Anonymous said...

"My sons aren't black, but I have given them the exactly same Talk about cops..."

I don't have any kids, but if I did, I don't think it would ever occur to me to have that kind of a talk with them. I've never had any substantial dealings with police. Granted, this is partly because I'm a New Yorker and don't drive. But yes, it's certainly possible to live one's life without giving the police any but the most passing thought.

Shawn said...

Read through this because I have a little story...

But first, I really think one of the reasons why Blacks get arrested so much more than Whites is because they do not know how to act around cops.

Over at Half Sigma's I think I remember him writing about the book "Arrest Yourself," and in it the author, Dale C. Carson, notes that a great deal of arrests come from routine traffic stops.

Wanting to be aware of how I should conduct myself in case I was ever stopped by the police, I read articles and watched a lot of YouTube videos which provide instructions regarding this.

Okay, so a couple Fridays ago I was pulled over on my way home from downtown at about 2:40 am. The cop came to my window. I asked him if I broke a law. He told me I crossed over into another lane 7 times. He asked where I was coming from. I told him, "I have nothing to say." He asked how much I had to drink. I told him "I have nothing to say officer." He said, I smell alcohol on your breath, would you step out of the car? I felt confident enough to do the field sobriety tests (which most people should refuse) and even the Breathalyzer (which most people should refuse as well).

I just was confident that my condition would cause me to have any problems with those tests and I did not want to be arrested, which would be the result of refusal (but for most people it's better to refuse and be arrested and then have the charged dropped later on, after the mandatory BAC test at the station) because I knew that I would pass them, and I knew that the Breathalyzer had a variance of .02. Anyways, after doing the FST in front of the cop car's camera, not answering his questions regarding if I had injures that would make it difficult for me to pass the FSB (an argument I could use in court if needed) I took the Breathalyzer and blew a .016, the legal limit here is .08. After I blew the .016 he asked me, "see I was right, so why aren't you cooperating?" I stood silent, knowing that I could be arrested for DUI even if I knew I was not drunk, was below the limit, but simply said something like, yeah I had been drinking. Eventually the cop said, I think you are just fatigued (certainly true) and you don't have far to go, "drive safe."

If I would have told the cop, for example, that I had been drinking, I would have been arrested for DUI right on the spot, assuming what he was saying about my crossing over into another lane was true. And my car would have been searched. Anything I said that would have implicated myself would have been passed on to a prosecutor.

So what percentage of Black people know how to act in situations like that? Certainly a smaller portion of Blacks than Whites. I would not have known how to act without curiosity and future-time orientation, which lead to my research into articles and YouTube vids. A Black person with an IQ in the 70s-90s probably won't know that silence can not be used against him; he probably won't know that the cops can legally lie to him to get an admission. Heck, most people on the right side of the bell curve don't even know that, but it's people with higher IQs that can get out of situations like this, or at least make the case very difficult for the prosecution.

Thrasymachus said...

Cops are certainly bullies, to some extent, but for the last 20 years they have mainly been selected for political correctness. They are public employees who want to do as little work as possible to get their large paychecks and generous benefits and pensions. In the four times in the last 20 years I can remember being pulled over, one cop was a white man, one a white lesbian, and the other two (both in Florida) black men. They won't touch minorities with a ten-foot pole so as a white guy it's your honor to be filling the ticket quotas.

An excellent book for understanding cops is "Arrest-Proof Yourself" by Dale Carson. Whites avoid trouble with cops because they have an ancestral memory of cops being there to protect good people- my Irish mother always used to say "with the help of God and a policeman". Not true for a long time, but act as though.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that the police in any black run country you care to name act in a far, far harsher way towards blacks than any white American cop has ever done.
Basically you're talking about summary executions, severe beatings and bribe taking here.
I have to stress this point to any black who might be reading here - no matter how much you hate whites and white law officers, even considering the worst of so-called Jin Crow and lynchings, your safety and personal integrity are infinitely securer than they would be under a black-run government.

Alcalde Jaime Miguel Curleo said...

It's interesting to think of cultural subtleties pertaining to The Talk™ which would require it to be delivered slightly differently depending on the audience, for best efficacy. Imagine if somebody compiled a compare/contrast analysis of all the varieties--maybe including Arabs and Inuit and Hmong if that makes sense--rather than just pretending it's a totally unique responsibility only one race has to deal with--blacks' equivalent of a kosher/halal burden and y'all can never understand. Sounds like a good magazine topic, for somebody oriented to the right but with more of an interest in anthropology than in Machiavelli or Montesquieu or the Peloponnesian War

Anonymous said...

She obviously has not had the pleasure of meeting Mr Theodoracopulos.

If there is any truth to the rumors about Taki, then that would be a very great pleasure indeed.

Georgia Resident said...

"But to how the Irish got treated bad one needs to talk about class, and how white people can sometimes be poor."

Perhaps, "people can dislike other groups for reasons other than racial inferiority". It would explain a lot. For example, why Iraq and Afghanistan are failing to turn into liberal democracies.

Truth said...

"In fact, a black guy has better chance of living after calling cops 'pigs' than calling another black guy a n..."

Is that an actual "fact"? I sure hope not, I call three bruvas n...every day!

alonzo portfolio said...

The incident, which remains under investigation, followed the controversial shooting death of an unarmed black teen in Florida by a neighborhood watch leader

What kind of writing is this? So the 'incident' that 'remains under investigation' is the father's talk with his son? That's the way the 3rd paragraph reads.

Maya said...

How sad. Most black people in America really do seem to believe that general human struggles and daily annoyances are experienced uniquely by them and are caused by racism.

I'm a a very small white girl, and no one had ever given me "the talk" regarding cops. Not challenging low level representatives of authority because it can't possibly benefit you in any way is plain common sense. It never occurred to me that I could be shot by an officer, but saying "yes, sir; no, sir" and doing as I was told always seemed like my best bet of getting out of a ticket or being let go sooner. They have the power, so why make them angry? Yes, I've been stopped for no reason even though I'm a white female. It never crossed my mind that I was being stopped BECAUSE I'm female and white. I just assumed stuff like that happens to everyone.

And parents who need to school their teenage children on the negative consequences of acting belligerent haven't done their job when the kids were toddlers. From what I understand, belligerent behavior also hurts one's cause in relationships, in school, at work, in ER and at a hostess stand while waiting to be seated in a restaurant. Regardless of race.

Also, most people feel like they just can't catch a break at some point in their lives. Most girls obsess over their hair and try to change its texture with various potions and heating techniques. The models on magazine covers don't look like the vast majority of us, male or female. Band-aides don't match the color of most people's skin. Everyone experiences rude behavior directed at them from time to time or feels like they don't fit in or have to act unnaturally in order to fit in. Regardless of race.

Maya said...

Also, how contemptibly pathetic does one have to be to have one's pride hurt while dealing with the lower representatives of authority? You stop your car when the police flash the blue lights at you, close your mouth when the teacher tells you to be quiet and open your carry on for the security dude at the airport because that's the normal thing to do as a part of a larger contract with society, not because that particular being overpowered you somehow. Those who disrupt whichever process by "standing up" for themselves and get predictably punished for making it difficult for some tired sob to do his/her job must be either mentally ill or extremely stupid.

As for these government workers on power trips, anyone remotely functional understands that they are not really human, but more akin to viral STDs. You should try to avoid confronting them and seek highly specialized help if the situation gets truly out of control. But, for Pete's sake, don't take it personally. STDs don't have minds, so they can't be reasoned with as they run their course. It's stupid to get angry with them. Normal people just calmly follow the steps that lead to getting rid of the nuisance as fast as possible.

Londoner said...

All this "The Talk" talk sounds like so much self-pitying BS to me. "Look, son, this is just the way things are in this raciss society. We don't stand a chance." Yeah right. If anyone NEEDS to be told to be watchful and respectful around police officers then they're probably exceptionally likely to get into trouble with them anyway.

NOTA said...


I think it's pretty common for the widespread picture of the world carried by people to be a reflection of the past, rather than the present. Blacks 50 years ago really were being systematically kept down and mistreated across much of the country, including overt rules to keep their kids out of decent schools, to keep them from voting, to keep them out of nice neighborhoods, and to keep them out of various good jobs. Today, there is presumably still some of that going on in the shadows, but not much, because it has become totally unacceptable everywhere--being found out to have racially discriminated in hiring or firing decisions is a firing offense everywhere, and would be in many organizarions even without antidiscrimination laws.

And yet, people learn from and are shaped by the past, not the present. Just as today's Jews are probably overly concerned with the dangers of anti-Semitism because of the horrors of the holocaust, today's blacks are probably overly concerned with white discrimination and racism, because that was visibly keeping their parents and grandparents down. It's the cultural version of fighting the last war--like American generals in the 80s obsessing over tank warfare because rhat was so important in WW2.

Blacks were being kept down by a boot on their necks. We took the boot away a generation or more ago, but the mark is still there, and so is the memory. And blacks have mostly not managed to get up, despite taking the boot away and offering various hands up. Whatever informal discrimination happens, formal discrimination is gone,and there is formal discrimination in blacks' favor in many places. And yet, blacks are still on the bottom, with too many in jail or unemployed, and too few graduating high school or college. This is the most tragic bit of all, both for America and for blacks. When the Jewish quota went away and anti-Semitism became unacceptable, Jews became doctors and professors and businessmen, joined country clubs and moved into neighborhoods that wouldn't let their parents in, and turned into a success story. Anit-Asian discrimination was less widespread, but in its absense, Asians have done extraordinarily well in America. This hasn't happened for blacks.

I suspect continued bad outcomes for blacks, alongside this history, makes for a lot of the "unconscious racism" and "white privilege" and "structural racism" discussion. There was a boot on my neck keeping me down, it went away, but I'm still down--the obvious explanation is that there's still an invisible boot keeping me down. That's also the self-congratulatory story for blacks (much better than "our kids just don't seem to do well in school"), and it's a good story for getting political action (whites are also susceptible to the invisible boot theory, and so can be convinced to support affirmative action and racial redistricting and such).

Golden Bear said...


I quibble slightly with your analysis of Blacks' attitude towards racism (full disclosure: I am Black).

Various studies/polls have shown that Blacks tend to have a more positive perspective vis-a-vis race relations improving as time marches on. Interestingly, Whites have a less positive view regarding same.

I agree with you that Jewish and Black views on present day racism are informed by the de jure, institutional, and pervasive social racism they suffered in the past. And I certainly agree that social racism has greatly diminished.

However, I disagree that institutional and de jure racism have disappeared. I argue that such racism is obfuscated, allowing this "meta-racism" to work below the radar of most White Americans (who are not racist).

The plutocrats' attack on government workers (of which a higher percentage are Black and Latino than in the civilian sector). The defunding of the public schools in cities and states with large minority populations. The disproportionate prison sentences between Whites and Blacks and Latinos. The stripping of voter rights for felons in states with large Black and Brown populations. Right to carry and "stand your ground" laws. These are all forms of de jure or institutional racism.

The evil genius of this form of racism is that, on its face, one can make reasonable arguments that minorities "brought it on themselves," such as poor performance in school or people being arrested for crimes no one forced them to comment.

While there is certainly validity in this perspective, what happens is that those seeking to keep the boot on the necks of Blacks and Browns can engage in their racism under the patina of "dealing with the unfortunate problems of society."

Of course, the ulterior motive of the Plutocrats with all this institutional racism is to control and profit off poor, working, and middle class Whites - the vast majority of American society - while said Whites are keeping and eye on those scary Blacks and Browns. But that is another story . . . .

Anonymous said...

”Right to carry and ‘stand your ground’ laws. These are all forms of de jure or institutional racism.”

Your whole comment is more the usual liberal sophistry, but this particular statement just takes the cake. Self-defense is now “stealth racism”. What a bunch of BS.

Maya said...

Golden Bear,

I'm confused. Are you saying that we have to choose between a well functioning, just society and a society without institutionalized racism? What are we supposed to do with people who commit crimes? You say that to suggest that these criminals bring punishment upon themselves by committing crimes is a mark of an evil genius who perpetuates institutional racism. But, seriously, what do you suggest? Say, you are a judge, and the guilty defendants that keep appearing before you are disproportionately black and never ever Asian... What are you supposed to do if you sincerely don't want to be racist, but also want to take your oath to deliver justice seriously?

Also, you mentioned the failing inner city schools as another example of subliminal racism. I happen to be a teacher at one such a school, and our kids fail those standardized tests every single year. Half of our students will leave our care completely illiterate. Who is responsible for this here institutional racism? Is it me? Cross my heart and hope to die, I'm not being racist on purpose. I really, really want to not be racist and have all my kids succeed. Can you help me achieve this? For God's sake, what else can I possibly do to make them come to school regularly, attempt homework, quit fighting in class or just listen long enough to maybe learn something, so we could put an end to this racist system? Tell me!!! I'll do it. We'll all do it.

See a lot of people who work in those inner city schools or volunteer for the inner city church programs or do social work in the inner cities sincerely feel like they are giving up ridiculous amounts of their time, health and personal income to end all this institutional racism, and yet it keeps happening. If one doesn't have to think or do anything racist to support this subliminal racism, is racism really a vice? Or is it more like radiation from the sun- there no matter what you frigging do?

Londoner said...

anonymous @ 8:49pm yesterday - if you are attacked by a member of The Most Protected Group then yes, self-defence absolutely IS racist. It involves the heinous crime of NOTICING that you're being attacked by a member of The Group - that's profiling - and using violence against him. This is simply never acceptable under any circumstances. Non-Whites are allowed to resist Black violence, but Whites simply have to take it.

Londoner said...

Maya, you should really know by now. White = racist and racist = white. A person's actual deeds and words are 100% irrelevant to this equation. It is an essential truth.

Golden Bear said...


My argument, in brief, is simply that those wishing to impede the progress of Blacks and Browns use the failings of Blacks and Browns against them to achieve racist goals. So, we prosecute Blacks and Browns more vigorously than Whites for the same offenses, then take away voting rights for felons, knowing this will effect Black and Brown felons more, who just happened to vote for Democrats (generally). It doesn't matter - they are felons anyway, right?

We underfund schools systems and waste money on school administrators (instead of hiring more teachers). Then we promote the (often true) meme that it really doesn't matter, because these Black and Brown working class and poor families don't emphasize education anyway.

Londoner, do you see how Maya and I are discussing this like mature adults, instead of hurling mindless and false invectives?

Maya said...

Golden Bear,

Could you please point me to the studies that prove the notion that blacks and browns are punished more harshly for the same offences. I haven't been able to find anything of the sort. I don't have any personal experience with the legal system, but in schools the opposite is true. White students are given detentions for being slightly late twice or for whispering during class. Failure to serve a detention results in an in-school suspension. Black students ignore their teachers, skip class, run around the classroom, talk continuously and even fight. Yet, the schools are reluctant to punish these students because they fear disparate impact charges. Many teachers are told to not write up more black than white students, so all but the worst black offenders go undisciplined in our inner city schools.

I agree that we hire too many administrators instead of teachers, but that's not a problem exclusive to predominantly minority populated schools. It's a general problem, so how can it be racist? As far as under funding goes, I simply disagree. Our poor inner city kids received a laptop each, get free breakfast and lunch, a smart board in every classroom, a set of electronic clickers for every class, the local church buys backpacks and fills them with everything on the "to buy" list for the kids whose parents didn't buy them school supplies, and it looks like they'll be getting iPads next year. Additionally, the government has invested into art programs, music programs and language immersion programs in the inner city. But it doesn't help. And those iPads will not help either. They'll get broken like those laptops before them. You see... you don't need any of that to learn. The elementary classroom of my childhood was equipped with a blackboard and some chalk. The students received notebooks and pens. What you do need is the ability and willingness to sit down, listen, learn, follow directions and respect basic rules. What you need is a parent who cares enough about you to instill respect for education and to teach you how to act in civil society. Where I grew up, parents wanted to know what you do in school every day. They snooped around your homework stuff. They demanded you show them what you learned. And if they realized that you don't get something, they tutored you in it the first free minute they had. Where I work, we have tutoring hours, but the parents don't bother bringing their kids. Are you suggesting we somehow fund good parenting?

You said that the idea that the parents in the failing school districts don't care about education is often true... so is it still racist? Even if it's true? Have you heard of the Kansas City experiment? They decided to improve student achievement by drowning the school district in money. In the end, the test scores didn't budge one bit. No matter how many reading specialists are hired, how many expensive technology toys are bought or how many new swimming pools are built, in the end, the students still have to put forth effort in order to progress, and their parents need to make sure that they do. Otherwise you get Kansas City or Memphis or Nashville and the list goes on.

So, again I ask you, are the predominantly black school districts failing due to racism? Whose racism and what else can we possibly do to stop perpetuating institutional racism? Perhaps its racist to force these families into formal education and professional job tracks? Because from where I'm standing, it looks like we are annoying them with all this literacy, math and other boring stuff. They (both the parents and the kids) seem to feel quite resentful.

Maya said...

Golden Bear,

One more thing... You said you're Black, so I'm curious if you've ever actually had to attend one of those failing schools or is your knowledge of them purely academic? The reason I ask is that I, too, used to think that there must be some horrific outside force to cause these people to perform so poorly, until I came face to face with the problem.
Have you ever spent a significant amount of time in a ghetto? Have you ever considered that just because YOU would need to be horribly oppressed in order to fail to such a staggering degree, it doesn't mean that others don't just fail because they have no real interest in succeeding?

Maya said...

Ah, one more thing yet...

Londoner's comment about white people always being racists no matter what might seem like just a piece of inflammatory trolling, but it's how many people often feel. So many of us were brought up by caring ex-hippie teachers who cried with us while reading novels by Toni Morrison. So many of us were raised to feel extremely offended at a mere hint of a racist joke and such. Yet, most of us, who come in contact with a large population of Blacks for a long period of time, get accused of racism at a drop of a hat. Oftentimes, it's not even done in an angry manner, like those times in college when the black kids would say in class that everyone is a little bit racist, so white kids shouldn't feel bad for the way they were brought up. This was usually followed by some white kids swearing up and down that they were in no way racist nor was their upbringing with some Black kids smiling condescendingly and replying that this is simply impossible and that the white kids thinking that they weren't brought up to be slightly racist only proves how blind they are to all this racism around. Of course, now, I usually get accused of racism along with a broad group of teachers and blamed for the achievement gap. It's quite hurtful considering we how hard we work and how much love, thought and our personal income we put into our students. Oftentimes, it really does feel like we just can't win, no matter what we actually feel or do.

Tsukkake said...

”My argument, in brief, is simply that those wishing to impede the progress of Blacks and Browns use the failings of Blacks and Browns against them to achieve racist goals.”

Does this mean that concealed carry “impedes the progress of Blacks and Browns”? Is self-defense a “racist goal”?

It has become extremely tiresome to listen to blacks and others blaming every single one of their failures on a pervasive, secret and inherent white racism.

The evil genius of this form of excuse making is that it’s an unfalsifiable theory that requires no proof. It simply requires faith, and among many blacks, this feeling that they are being held down by racism is akin to a religious belief. It is a comforting myth that that absolves blacks from any responsibility for their own failures. It attacks the perceived motivations of white people, since it is difficult to really fault their actual actions themselves.

Golden Bear said...

Maya and Tsukkake:

Why all of the broad generalizations?

Tsukkake: "It has become extremely tiresome to listen to blacks and others blaming every single one of their failures on a pervasive, secret and inherent white racism."

Really? Blacks blame others for every single one of their failures? If you really believe this, you know nothing of how Blacks folks really think regarding a whole host of issues (FYI - Black folk generally recognize personal failure amongst too many Blacks as the primary cause of the ills that affect Blacks today). You strike me as a person who feels comfortable with the tiresome rhetoric evident in your post, as it prevents you from grappling with the effect institutional racism continues to have in American life.

Maya: "Yet, most of us, who come in contact with a large population of Blacks for a long period of time, get accused of racism at a drop of a hat."

Really? Your day consist of being constantly targeted as a racist? That's doubtful. It sounds like you are burned out from dealing with children and parents who don't value education highly. That is understandable.

To answer your question, I have limited experience in predominantly Black, low achieving schools. My parents, despite deep involvement in the PTA, etc., moved our family across town when I was a child so that we could attend predominantly Anglo schools in a middle to upper class area.

However, my mother was a long time teacher (and very good one at that) in such a low performing school. I have other relatives who teach as well. Thus, I have some grounds to suggest that both institutional racism and low-achieving families (and the related behavioral issues this promotes in children) BOTH serve to negatively affect people of color.

Sadly, more and more Anglo families are starting to exhibit similar familial breakdown. I fear for my country.

P.S. - I haven't offered any studies (which are out there), because, frankly, they won't change the minds of either one of you.

Maya said...

Golden Bear,

I'm sorry you decided to not share information that might've been helpful to me and consequentially, to my students. Believe it or not, I'm genuine, in my desire to learn and help. I stumbled upon this website while searching for something, anything to aid me in understanding why they were acting this way.

To answer your question, yes, I feel accused of racism on a daily bases at work. Each time this racism within the school system is mentioned as one of the reasons for the achievement gap, I feel spit upon. Well, I used to. Now, I feel a lot more numb, like I've been kicked so many times that it doesn't matter anymore. When you state that racism is part of the reason the kids act like nothing I've ever seen before, aren't you accusing me? Do you think you are the only one?

The thing is, I really do love my students and care about them sincerely. I'd claim it under oath. Heck, I would consent to a lie detector test. Seriously.
If only you, or anyone who claims to know, would point me to some concrete example of this subliminal racism, so I would know what to change personally or for what I could advocate within the establishment, perhaps, the students would be better served. Why do you refuse to help these kids? Don't you care about them? If you know what it is that we, the white establishment, do that's hurting them, why won't you tell us?

I already care about the kids more than their parents do, prepare individual lesson plans, search for extra materials and different ways to present constantly, spend all my disposable income on supplies, snacks, prizes and sweatshirts, call all parents regularly (whether they answer or not) and go to professional development in my areas of growth. I know that I'm only working 10 hours/day plus weekends instead of the 16 hours I put in daily during my first year. But i can't help it, my body was breaking down. One can function on 3 hours of sleep only for so long.

If things don't change radically, I will put in one more year and then leave for a nice school in a nice area, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe the students will be better of with one less of my evil kind around. I know I'll be much healthier and much more appreciated. Tell me, doesn't constant mentioning of members of a certain race within the school system being the problem largely responsible for the horrors that befall our students, without any hint on how the members of this race could stop their evil-doing not constitute malicious bullying and criminal prejudice? If not, why? If you insist that white presence in the predominantly black districts results in racism that is detrimental to student achievement, aren't you advocating for segregation?

Also, by "Anglo", are you referring to the ethnically English, all sorts of Germanic people or Europeans in general? I've heard Hispanics use the term to describe all English speakers. But I've never heard an English speaker use the term unless they were talking about real Anglo people which would be kind of bizarre in the context of your post...

Londoner said...

Golden Bear - I'm sorry you found my comment disagreeable. I could have written at greater length but time is precious so I thought I'd keep it short and to the point. Some sarcasm, but no troll and no flame.

My meaning was this: over the past ten years or more, the Anglosphere media and institutions have been steadily re-framing the meaning of "racism", an inch, a story and a case at a time, to exclude any behaviour other than that committed by whites against non-whites. In the old days, you occasionally heard the expression "reverse racism" (usually couched as "possible", or "suspected", or "alleged") to describe the most gross and obvious acts of anti-white racism. Sure "reverse racism" is a ridiculous concept, but it was at least a half-accurate term. Even that seems to have disappeared though. All that remains in the folder emblazoned with the crimson "R" is misdeeds by whites. The creeping modification of the usage of the term, by commission and omission, has made it literally impossible for anyone but whites to engage in racist behaviour. So racist = white.

And at the same time the discourse and prevailing media attitudes have been modified, bit by bit so that any town, village, community, institution, company, media outlet, sports team - anything - that is exclusively, majority or conspicuously white, is implicitly - and increasingly explicitly - suspected of racism (remembering that whites and whites only are capable of deploying the R-bomb). Such is self-evident - if it's all-white, it must be by dint of racism, and action must be taken. White = racist.

So it was a comment on the use of language by the media and the political elites. As Orwell explained in great detail, the meanings of words have tremendous power, and we are in the process (quite near its end in fact), of observing the meaning of "racist" being transformed into a synonym for "white".

I hope the foregoing was sufficiently grown-up. WRT unequal punishments for the same criminal offences, I would echo Maya in asking for some substantiation. And comment that the "same" offence will often be punished more severely if it is a repeat offence than a first-time offence. What are the rates of recidivism of different racial groups?

Londoner said...

Lapsing into illiteracy there: words [not "the meanings of words"] have tremendous power;


"racist" [not "the meaning of racist"] being transformed into a synonym for "white".