Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Thomas Sowell has an very thought-provoking article on race and racism and whether or not it holds back lower-class African Americans (or "black rednecks" as he calls them). I'm reminded of a couple coworkers of mine who were from Honduras talking about how easy it was to tell an "American" black from a Caribbean, latin or African - the immigrants worked hard (sometimes two or three jobs), valued education and wanted to see their kids in school, kept a pretty tight rein on their kids. The natives didn't, apparently.

I'm also reminded of Jim Goad's thesis in the Redneck Manifesto - that lower class whites and lower class blacks have more in common with each other than with the upper class/more successful members of their respective races, and that this is played upon by both conservative and liberal factions. This isn't an easy read, as Goad's style is definitely a rant. Quite an eye-opener, though, and definitely a notion that I can agree with to an extent.

A good number of my friends who, like me, come from poorer backgrounds have had to deal with the anti-intellectual/anti-education mindset of our communities. It's not easy when you've a whole culture around you that does not value your desire to better yourself - whether you are black, white, latino, whatever. My black friends often were called "whitey" or "oreo" for appropriating what they saw as white culture (standard English, not cutting class, reading as a pastime. Western New York State wasn't as bad a place to grow up as other depressed areas, however.


Nick said...

I read this article and thought it was excellent as well. A lot of his stuff is great.

Be said...

I'm a big fan.
It's no comfort to know, though, that when I say stuff like this, I'm racist and when he says it he's classist. Just can't win.

Simon Kenton said...

When I have the work, Dale does drywall for me. I and a contractor friend love to watch him; we've each done enough drywall to loathe it, to acknowledge our inabilities, and to recognize greatness. Dale also has a masters, has put 4 daughters through college, and has accumulated real estate. He's black, and told me that in highschool he was spat upon by other blacks. And he has no close black friends.

I don't find his situation very imaginable.

Be said...

Imaginable or unimaginable? I think it all depends on what your background is.

Simon Kenton said...

My background. I'm an aging white guy. No white girls spit on me in highschool for being a good student. Nobody craps on me for valuing education. I can find people of 'my own race' who are still friendly despite my frugality and penchant for investment. Nobody accuses me of being a traitor to my people when I inculcate values I think good for the long-term benefit and success of my kids.

I don't find Dale's situation very imaginable because I come out of a more economically and educationally functional culture, and I'm not sure I'd have had the force and rectitude to endure the pressures, isolation, and sorrows he has endured.