Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Plight of Young Black Men

Two days ago I suggested that the national drama about George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was obscuring one of America’s most serious problems: the plight of young black men.

Yesterday, while President Obama was out stoking the flames of racial enmity, Michael Gerson wrote a fine column about the problem that everyone is ignoring:

One issue in particular cries out for attention while receiving almost none. Our politics moves from budget showdown to cultural conflict to trivial controversy while carefully avoiding the greatest single threat to the unity of America: the vast, increasing segregation of young, African American men and boys from the promise of their country.

America is in the process of managing, accommodating and containing a crisis that should be intolerable. More than 50 percent of young black men in inner cities are now dropping out of school — making high school graduation the exception to this dismal new rule. They consequently lag behind other groups in college attendance and graduation. Their rates of incarceration are disproportionately high and rates of workforce participation disproportionately low. “For virtually each outcome considered,” Harry Holzer of Georgetown University has written, “young black men now lag behind every other race and gender group” in the United States.

The problem has gotten worse for decades, in good economic times and bad. Others benefited from the tight labor markets of the 1990s. African American men did not. By 2004, more than half of all black men in their 20s were unemployed. And the size of this problem gets consistently underestimated, since employment figures exclude the incarcerated. A problem that seems insoluble is thus rendered invisible.
For Barack Obama it’s a grand opportunity to fulfill the promise of liberalism and to help his most loyal constituency.

Gerson writes:

If the reelection of President Obama is to mark a new era of liberal governance, let’s at least have some causes worthy of the liberal moral impulse. The one advantage of a social challenge on this scale is that it offers broad opportunities for creative policy: promoting early childhood education and parenting skills; encouraging youth development and mentoring; expanding technical education and apprenticeships; fostering college enrollment and completion; offering greater opportunities for national service; extending wage subsidies to low-income, noncustodial fathers; reforming sentencing and easing prisoner reentry. When there is a canyon to fill, just about everyone can usefully take a shovel.

A large presidential initiative on this topic would have an influence beyond policy. It would encourage understanding for some Americans who currently attract little of it. It would allow Obama to solicit conservative input and engage religious institutions. And it would be a powerful way to dispel the second-term blues.

On this as on many other issues, Barack Obama is more demagogue than leader. His great skill is manipulating the national mood. To do as Gerson suggests would require political courage and leadership. Up until now Obama has never shown any. There is no reason to believe that he will start now.


Dennis said...

For your edification:

Lastango said...

"Up until now Obama has never shown any. There is no reason to believe that he will start now."

Quite so, and I think that's by design. The race industry only cares about identity politics and the careers of its leaders. In fact, the industry has a negative incentive regarding young black men. Ensuring large numbers of them fail builds a permanent grievance constituency. If blacks had continued their advance into the middle class from the 1950's onward Al Sharpton would be out of a job, and there would be no Black Congressional Caucus.

Sam L. said...

Well, if they fixed this, there would be one fewer class of victims to exploit.

We'd need to fix the schools, the educational bureaucracy and the teachers so that they were taught, not just temporarily housed. And cater to/treat boys as boys and not as girls. Restore the black family.

Oh, forget it--that's in the too tough to do basket.

Larry Sheldon said...

The last 'graf is the most depressing.

Dennis said...

Sam L,

Well stated. One of the reasons white males have not been hurt as much by the education system is because in most cases they have an intact family structure to rely on. The Black male suffers the most because the Black family has been the institution most under attack by feminists and the democrat party. If one was a cynic one might believe that that was the purpose of pushing single parent female dominated families, high abortion rates in minority communities, et al.
What one sees in Black and minority families is the ultimate conclusion of feminism and progressivism. When fathers become unimportant then all males become unimportant. Not withstanding that boys learn to be men and girls learn what a male is supposed to be from those fathers. If women seem to be making bad choices a good deal of that comes from the marginalization of men in their lives.
We are seeing the results of what happens when one actively tries to destroy that structure for ideological reasons.
One has to realize that these young boys and men are just as capable of doing well in an education system that does not try to marginalize and disenfranchise them. The present education system is the ultimate in sexism because it is almost totally female in its current foundation and outlook. It shows little interests in the needs of boys. Instead of creating an active educational environment that would appeal to boys we have a very passive system that places more emphasis on the ability to sit still than the ability to learn.
Though I do see some reasons on the horizon to may be think that we might be turning the corner. There is finally a recognition that boys/men learn differently than girls/women. This really is a good thing for the survival of the species. To get a complete picture one needs both ways of thinking.
If yesterday's rather tepid demonstrations, despite the oohing and aahing of the media, demonstrates that even Blacks are getting tired of the race baiting of mendacious cretins like Sharpton and Jackson. The cartoon I saw that best describes these people and the NAACP shows a tree with four individual hanging from a tree labeled Sharpton. Each hanging individual is labelled truth and under each one is "Tawana Brawley Hoax," "Crown Heights," "Freddie's Fashion Mart," and the "Zimmerman Trial."
May be just may be we are beginning to recognize that people are not racists just because they are walking around white. It might even follow that people are not sexist just because they are walking around male.