This topic is inspired by a post of fellow blogger BZ. The quote is from an article written by Jonah Goldberg.
The main cause for this shortcoming is a deep-seated dogma that has prevailed in social science and policy circles since the mid-1960's: the rejection of any explanation that invokes a group's cultural attributes — its distinctive attitudes, values and predispositions, and the resulting behavior of its members — and the relentless preference for relying on structural factors like low incomes, joblessness, poor schools and bad housing.
I think this statement is far too sweeping of black people. There is no predisposition in black people that perpetuate negativity and we certainly don’t have a relentless preference for those things you stated. In fact, if you take the materialism of the hip hop culture, you will find that young black men accept the overall goal of Americanism (fortune, status, fame) and reconfigured it to fit on a pallet that is within their grasp (money, clothes and cars). In the hood we call it ‘the hustle’.
But when dealing with black men the first thing you have to deal with is the hopelessness, racism and something I call the Ditch Disorder. We’ve all heard the cliché, “A man’s home is his castle”. We start off in life trying to acquire the knowledge, tools and materials to build that castle. But black men start life in a ditch. So before we can even work on building the castle we have to acquire the tools to get out of the ditch. There are a myriad of ways of getting out of that hole; education, good work ethics and good decision making are primary. However, the ditch is made up of poor schools, gangs, drugs, racism, fatherless home, fast money and more.
The Ditch Disorder: The Ditch Disorder is a psychotic disorder that occurs in an individual or group after continual exposure to a destructive environment where death, violence and despair is pervasive; coupled with lack of opportunity and means of escaping said environment. An individual or group will eventually adopt or normalize behavior that provided a means of survival but perpetuates the attitudes and actions that further the existence of a destructive environment. Individuals or groups eventually become estranged or detached from the rest of society leading to a state of hopelessness.
Before you can even begin that process, somewhere along the line you have start believing that it is possible to get out of the ditch. When you’re operating in an environment that literally sucks the life out of a person, it is no wonder that many simply learn how to function in the ditch rather than attempt at leaving it. And then the cycle continues and the modus operandi becomes survival rather than overcoming.
Hopelessness is a very destructive force. Persistent hopelessness causes one to devalue not only their life but also the lives around them. It numbs the senses to point where everything objectified and devalued. It then become easy to associate a pimp or a drug dealer with status because success is devalued to the point where it acquisition is possible.
Whenever the discussion about the state of black men comes up, inevitably someone will toss in the cliché about overcoming racism, poverty or the ‘victim mentality’. It is a valid discussion but it does not get to the meat of the issue and that is the despair, hopelessness and low self-esteem that plague man young black males. The only way to overcome this is to inspire young brothers to build self-worth. People are not responsible for things they do not value. So personal responsibility is a mute point to someone that does not value their person or the people around them.
The only way to accomplish this is to grind it out with them. I have personal experience with young men that were on the fence when it came to which path they would take with their lives. When I first met them, many of them wrote off what I was saying as nagging. But I was there for them, year after year. I listened to them. I talked with them. I shared my own experiences – and I let them know that I would never accept the idea that they were less than because of the environment.
Once you establish a relationship, then you can start setting boundaries and expectations. I expected my young men to do well in school because I tutored them and knew how well they could do in school if they applied themselves. I expected them to not hang out in the streets because we volunteered and the center to provide them a place to go. I expected them to act like men and not thugs because we told and showed them what manhood was about. This is what I call shining a light down in the ditch. Providing guidance and direction.
A fact of life with most black men is that racism, poor education, job skills and access to jobs is a serious problem. Liberals and Conservatives, white and black people debate solutions to this and everyone has an opinion. Is Affirmative Action good or bad? What about school choice? Tougher jail sentences? We can go back and forth all day. The fact of the matter is that there is no ONE solution and no magic wand exist to deal with all of the different ways to deal with structural problems in the black community.
The problem is that this area is where many start the discussion with the plight of black men and completely skip over the fact that until a person believes he can climb out of the ditch, he is not going to utilize any tools to assist getting out of said ditch. But we’ve come to the point in the debate where catch phrases, clichés and rhetoric are the order of the day.
I honestly believe that this debate is academic for most people and I believe most Conservatives use this issue as a means to generate votes and polarize their constituents. After all, do you really want your tax dollars going to help a bunch of unappreciative, lazy, shiftless blacks when they should be happy their not in Africa? Liberals are no better. They go into the black community with their “Captain Save-Ah-Spook” mentality thinking, ‘if we can just get the primitives to think like white people, they’ll be better off.’ I’m not hopeful this conversation will ever get beyond ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ unless black men take the lead.
Topic of Discussion
1. What do you attribute to the plight of black men?
2. What are some things we can do to assist black youth?
3. What part does racism play in the plight of black men?
4. Do you believe Conservatives actually care about this issue or using it as an extension of the "Southern Strategy"?
5. What role has Liberal policies played in the state of black men?
6. What would you do to alleviate the hopelessness that plague man young black men?