Monday, April 14, 2014
Crossing the Divide
50 years ago, society attempted to end racial tensions by ending segregation. 40 years ago society tried to put minorities, as well as poor whites, on par with the rest of society by instituting the "War on Poverty", ended "poll taxes" to give equal access to the ballot box everyone, and instituted a hiring quota system---Affirmative Action--- to ensure equal access (some would argue "preferred" access) to certain jobs---individual and commercial. 30 years ago, we instituted forced busing to bring about education parity. We have since introduced "No Child Left Behind", and other various programs, and yet we still have sectional poverty no better than some third world nations, high levels of crime, violence, and unemployment, failed schools and failing students, decrepit neighborhoods, broken homes, taxpayer dependency, and children having children, which only perpetuates the cycle.
We've seen the education performance of students decline as academic rigueur and discipline is thrown out the window. The only thing "common" is equal underachievement for all. Underperforming minority students often threaten and intimidate other achieving minority students for acting "too white" , as if being a societal failure and more often than not, a statistic, is a goal to be proud of. Minority studies have been introduced in various colleges, yet outside academia, they have little economic value, while minority and low income students should instead be encouraged to major in high demand professions which will improve their social and economic standing. Despite federal hiring quotas and spending billions on "urban renewal" to refurbish downtowns over and over again, inter-cities continue to look more like blown out war zones than centers of economic growth.
Among most young adults, and even some older adults who grew up during segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, race has become a nonissue. Close friendships across racial lines is more common than not. Inter-racial dating and marriage, once not just frown upon, but outright illegal, is scarcely even acknowledged. Many individuals, who've survived the bullying by their peers not to succeed in school as the risk of "trying to act white" have entered into professions their grandparents could only dream of, be it corporate, law, medicine, science, entrepreneurship, or academia; many achieving the highest levels in their chosen profession. Today, it's not uncommon to have black, Asian, or Hispanic civil, military, business, or political leaders. America even has a bi-racial president (what is unusual, however, is that despite making up over 50% of the population, we've yet to have our first female head of state in stark contrast to numerous other and less "democratic" nations). The "race card" has been all played out, especially as economic parity improves.
Today, minorities can claim their own TV and radio channels, magazines, movie and music genres, social media sites, awards, pageants, associations, events, and so forth (though whites ironically, are precluded from doing so in the name of "equality"). Still, such promotions seem increasingly little more than quaint holdovers aimed at dividing society--- a commercialized version of "separate but equal"---rather than uniting us as a People. As a friend of mine once said, "the only color that matter is green".
So, the question is "why"? Why the continuing divide? Is it, as once believed, that the races ultimately cannot not long lived side by side; that eventually one will have to emerge as dominate and the others as subordinate or even perish as a race unto itself? Why, after the billions spent rebuilding, are minority dominated areas still poor and crime ridden? Why is alcoholism, single parent households, drugs, and academically failing students (with higher than average dropout rates) considered the norm in low income and minorities communities, along with the imprisonment a large segment of its population ? And, while we're at it, why is academic underperformance considered acceptable when it neither enhances the critical thinking skills of the student nor properly prepares them for life in society? Why is academic mediocrity rewarded while excellence is quietly discouraged out of fear of making someone or some group "feel bad" about themselves? Why is the failed political philosophy of "throw-enough-money-at-it-and -it- will -fix -itself" still pursued ? For that matter, why are individuals allowed or even encouraged to adopt a dependence on federal government handouts to the point of subservience when programs enhancing work skills and self reliance would be more cost effective and personally enriching while peripherally reduce crime, lower unemployment, create more jobs, and ultimately increase the overall tax base?
As the saying goes, "a government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take everything from you". From this writer's perspective, all we've succeeded in doing is to dismantled the family unit, created an economic dependency no less addictive as any drug, destroyed all sense of individual self-worth, morals, or personal responsibility, devalued life, and created a sub-culture which feeds on instant gratification at any cost, while at that time penalized those who continue to seek economic and personal self-worth. It matters little to the slave or serf their master's name except that freedom is denied.