Disclaimer: This is not a topic for the faint at heart. If you are not prepared for a battle royal, please do not comment on this. Also, if you are afraid to air some of your dirtly laundry on race, this may not be the post for you. I think it's about time we open some barn doors and let some fresh air in this piece.
I grew up in one of the most racially segregated cities in America. Chicago is a place where racial animosity smolders under the surface like lava. Needing only one incident to turn the hands of time back 40 years to when racism was overt and a fact of life. Though it has changed some, there are still neighborhoods in Chicago that racial diversity is delicate issue. Bridgeport, Ravenswood, Englewood, Pilsen and Humbolt Park are not places that one ventures into without a specific reason to do so. This is a fact of life. I have my issues when the thought arises that I may have to live in a neighborhood that is not predominantly black. I'm not saying I feel comfortable living in the hood, but Chicago has numerous middle class black neighborhoods and that is where most black people strive to live.
California is a different world and I'm getting to the point of understanding that - but my survival instincts kick in and I do wonder, 'as a black man, do I really want to live in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood.' The reality of my past says that doing so is good way for a black man to get a beat down. But in my current reality, that is not the case. So it is something that I must overcome. That is not the only stereotype that I have. I have them of white people and black people. I'm sure we all have stereotypes and perceptions that may not jive with reality and they show themselves every once in a while.
In order to move this discussion further, why don't we take the time to look at some stereotypes, myths and misinformation and see if we can wade through the muck.
#1 (Misinformation) The lack of morals in the black community is the primary reasons for their condition.
Like any ethnic group, black folks have their share of ignorant people. But is it really the morality of black people that is the reason for the disparities. Let’s look at some numbers.
• 76% live above the poverty line (vs. 10% in 1940 and 45% in 1960). All-time high above poverty: 79% in 2001
• 91.6% are employed. All-time high since slavery's end: 92.8% (April 2000)
Poverty rate by family composition: married-couple families 8%, single-dad families 19%, single-mom families 35%
• 79% are high school graduates (vs. 14% in 1950)
• 17% are college graduates (vs. 2% in 1950). Women: 18%. Men: 16%
• African American men 18-24, there were 480,000 in college and 180,000 in prison or jail.
Based on just these few facts, more black people are trying to do the right thing than not. But you wouldn't know that if you listened to the media. Take note of the number of black men in jail compared college. It is always said that there are more black men in jail than in college, but that's only if you look at the entire population of black men. When looking at school age black men, the numbers drastically change. But there is a still a disparity when comparing those numbers to whites.
#2 (Myth) Poor people are feeding off of the system and waiting for handouts.
The fact is that most poor people work but make very low wages.
"Of the more than 35 million persons classified as living in poverty, most are children, disabled or elderly," Glasmeier notes. "But 7 million of them are men and women who are working at jobs that do not pay a wage they can live on. A majority of working poor are over age 24 and in their wage-earning period of life."
#3 (Myth) Black conservatives are sell outs and beholden to white conservatives
I think there are a lot of black conservatives and they come in many forms. There are some that view things from and economic perspective. Then there are some that come from a religious perspective. Most are consider themselves Republican, but then there are others that sway towards libertarian. And of course, there are some that are Sambos. (If you are interested in understanding that term, Dell Gines is the foremost expert and can explain it to in ways that I can not). If you really want an insight to the different perspectives of black conservatives, the following blogs lays it out perfectly. I now divide black conservative into three categories. I give some examples of bloggers, politicians and writers so you'll understand the categories better.
Black Fist Conservatives w/ Emphasis on Education and Economic development: Dell Gines, Joseph C Phillips
Race Neutral w/Emphasis on Individualism & Morality: Cobbs, JC Watts, Alan Keys, Colin Powell, Condi Rice
Suckers w/Emphasis in white folks acceptance: Jesse Lee Peterson, Star Parker, Michelle Malkin, Lashawn Barber
I will submit to you that the only rotten apples in the bunch are Jesse Lee Peterson and Star Parker. To move the debate beyond point/counter point, we need not disqualify black people from the discussion of race because they carry a conservative ID.
There are so many more stereotypes, myths and misinformation with regards to race and race relations that it is impossible to summarize them all here. My intent was to start the dialogue. The problem with stereotypes is that there is an undercurrent of truth associated with them. The value that we place on that undercurrent is where things fall apart. Some people main focus is the undercurrent and other ignore its existence. It is my belief that this conversation needs to take place before we start offering solutions on race. You can't offer an accurate prescription if you don't have the proper perspective.
1. What are some of the stereotypes that you hold?
2. What are some of the stereotypes that people incorrectly associated you with?
3. Would you consider your perspective one that would align itself with facts?
4. What stereotypes did you hold that you now reject?