Friday, May 17, 2013

More rappers, less business leaders

Addressing graduates at Bowie State University, a historically black college in Maryland, First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday said the reason more African-American children don't go to college is because they're lazy:
“Instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper."
Now, I ain't black. I am, in fact, painfully white. That said, I do have access to some facts, courtesy the October 2012 study, “Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress,” as reported by The New York Times:
¶ Among male high school dropouts born between 1975 and 1979, 68 percent of blacks (compared with 28 percent of whites) had been imprisoned at some point by 2009, and 37 percent of blacks (compared with 12 percent of whites) were incarcerated that year. 
¶ By the time they turn 18, one in four black children will have experienced the imprisonment of a parent. 
¶ More young black dropouts are in prison or jail than have paying jobs. Black men are more likely to go to prison than to graduate with a four-year college degree or complete military service.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I am not at all confident this metaphor works but I'd say it's the mass-incarceration chicken. If kids aren't going to college, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it has less to do with Nas and the Playstation 3 than it does with one or more of their parents being imprisoned, the lack of good job opportunities in America's urban centers, and the absolute shit secondary schools that the urban poor often have no choice to attend.

Curiously, though, it appears the president's wife would rather blame black culture than the institutionalized racism that manifests itself in mass incarceration and an official unemployment rate nearly twice that faced by whites. The notion that black children are too busy basketballin' and hip-hoppin' and shit must poll better.


  1. Additionally, in light of good buddy Rahm's recent school closures in her hometown, it's hard to overstate how callous and despicable her "walking miles every day to school" comment really is.

    All the excellent PR really makes you forget what fundamentally awful people the Obamas are.

  2. I mean jesus christ, some kids in Chicago are being forced to commute to school through dangerous gang territory as a result of neoliberal reform - they'd be much better off staying home watching TV and playing video games, that's just a rational decision.

  3. Anonymous6:49 AM

    "Institutionalized racism" is so massive, it doesn't need to be proven, you just know it's there! The only problem is many cities are now black majority (Detroit, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Cleveland, Memphis, & hundreds of others) and some have been run by blacks for decades. All are full of poverty and high crime, is this racism too?

    Even the NYT article you linked disputes what you're saying: “the simple, tragic truth is that a large number of young black men do engage in violent acts and other forms of criminal behavior.”

    The empirical data has been gathered and studied. Most of it is crimethink to an Egalitarian, but clear-eyed observers long ago realized "institutionalized racism" is nonsense.

    1. "Even the NYT article you linked disputes what you're saying."

      No, it really doesn't. No one denies that young black men, like other young men, commit crimes. The argument is that the chief contributor to this is not individual laziness or a desire to be a rapper, say, but a system of centralized, institutional oppression.

      For instance, black men are much more likely to go to prison for a drug offense than white men, despite the latter generally using more drugs. The disproportionate imprisonment of black men destroys black communities and places enormous burdens on now-single mothers, who are then forced to navigate a shitty school system for their kids, who see more money in the drug trade than in a job at KFC. It seems silly to discount that bit of institutionalized racism and instead place blame on, what? Rap music?

      And you know what? Sometimes having a black mayor isn't enough to overcome decades of policies written by and for rich people, who are usually white, particularly when they're imposed by states and the federal government. And sometimes, those black politicians (like all politicians) will internalize the ethos of their economic class and talk down to those in poverty, like a certain First Lady. Sometimes -- and this is crazy -- politicians don't even serve those they claim to represent!

    2. Anonymous3:35 PM

      Your confidence in your assumptions about the proportional effects of poverty rates on violent crime rates is misplaced.

    3. whitemansplainer5:42 PM

      Hey Anonymous, pull your head out. Institutional Racism is in the paint Americans put on their living room walls. It dates from the slave trade thru the "Slavery By Another Name" era and building up strength through "red lining" and other racist policies supported by the entire political class and terrified (often racist) white middle class homeowners. The denial of black home ownership (that is, in neighborhoods giving them value on a par with whites) since reconstruction is the single most important factor in keeping blacks impoverished and unable to pass onto succeeding generations a chance at the "American Dream." Black urban ghettos did not appear out of thin air because blacks were lazy or watching tv (now video games). They were social constructions serving the interests of white owned businesses, banks and real estate. My father, being a white WWII vet took advantage of the G.I. Bill to go to USC(!) and get a low interest mortgage to buy a home in a desirable neighborhood. This was DENIED to black vets (you can look it up, you putz). The more recent industrial strength conveyor belt to prison for black and Latino youth is well documented. Davis is right to be appalled by the First Lady using racially coded language to scold black youth (and their parents) today. She completely erases the massive documentary record of INSTITUTIONAL racism. Instead she carefully and emphatically paints a picture of knuckle draggin' white crackers terrorizing blacks. You see, there were pathological racists out there that made things rough but by golly those terrible people were not enough to stop the march of determined black americans on the road to intellectual emancipation! There were (are) no structural impediments, only Bull Connors and such. This is the Oprah Winfrey, Reagan era (Barack's favorite president) school of self-empowerment. See, you can either whine about institutional racism or get a job and go to school! It's up to YOU! She represents a class of African Americans whose interests serve permanent war, oligarchy and the immiseration of working people and ESPECIALLY the majority of African Americans whose income and personal wealth have plummeted since Obama took office. What welfare state and "leftist social experiments" (whatever the hell those are) can you point to specifically that outweigh the massively broad and deeply racist social engineering programs that are the foundation of US political, social and economic history? I'm not going to even address your mangled, magical math ruling out poverty so that it must be, gosh I don't know, uh hem, something built into the um, cough cough, genes of blacks cuz they are killing a lot more people than they should be.

    4. Anonymous4:47 PM

      So, @whitemansplainer, you DON'T think Obama has "the black man's" interests foremost in his mind?

      Did you vote for him?

      Why? (be honest)

      Perhaps what you're missing is that INSTITUTIONALISM is a by-product of STATE-ISM, and that leftist ideology is, and has always been, in the business of racially dividing (and thus tacitly forcing government reliance upon) the people of the nation.

      In spite of what Mr. Davis' professors have inculcated in his no doubt august education, history proves that an increasingly involved and powerful central Government will, categorically, be increasingly corrupt, intractable, and [most importantly] will always fall into the default categorization of its citizens by demographic criteria (otherwise known as "institutionalized racism"). ...Yet increased dependence upon this same Government has long been the sole solution of supposed "civil rights leaders" in the black community. Does this make sense to you?

      I'm no fan of Mrs. Obama, but I certainly don't think the answer to a very real problem [the above statistics, though you didn't dare to address them, are accurate] is, to paraphrase your post, "cultural stasis because we're so aghast at the racism of our fathers' era." Perhaps when we stop relying on Government and start relying on the goodness of human character (regardless of something as absurd as skin color) we can avoid the "institution" altogether and begin to heal as a nation.

      Or, I suppose we can keep the wounds of racism raw and weeping as we give more and more power to a Government whose sole concern is maintaining its control over the populace. It didn't work in the 40's, but it'll work now, I'm sure.

    5. "and that leftist ideology is, and has always been, in the business of racially dividing (and thus tacitly forcing government reliance upon) the people of the nation." Really? What about how the poor whites and poor blacks in the South after Reconstruction would have done much better if they had been able to band together as a unified labor movement?

  4. Carlos the Jackal10:21 AM

    The "Charles Davis" personality, in a nutshell.

    - Not funny

    - Not sure of what/whom he is

    - Not very intelligent

    - Skillful use of internet thesaurus websites which artificially expand his vocabulary

    - Enjoys playing The Victim for rhetorical leverage (i.e., "I identify with women, who are regularly raped by Ugly Thuggish GOP Breeders, and if you disagree with me, you're a rapist too!")

    - Hasn't ever known a rough moment in his pampered life (no, being gay is not a "rough moment" especially when you troll the bars of P Street)

    - Thinks he's a great writer because some 4th tier "progressive" publications sometimes post his written products

    1. Well, you've been reading me for years. Doing something right!

  5. Dyke Falsotomy2:01 PM

    What? Reading you for HOW long?


    Hah hah hah hah. It takes only 3 or 4 essays to see your little game. One might ask whom you are imitating with your sock puppet posted comments after your main "intellectual" essay. Do you really think people assume "notimetobebanned" isn't Carlos himself?

    No, who'd bother reading you "for years"? Your message isn't changing.

    Pumping "Medea" Benjamin was a nice trick though. Sure proves you're a real "feminist." As does the rape accusations you throw at every man who isn't gay.

    Such a clever boy, that Carlos.

  6. What a bizzarre article. Statistics from the 1970's always help me clarify institutionalized racism.

    I think the problem that people from more "black cities" have with this article is that it feels like Mr. Davis flew a helicopter over the "ghetto" and decided to comment on it. I live in innercity Oakland and I imagine that any readers from Baltimore, Atlanta ect. are just shaking their head at this. The problem? There are two types of (excluding racists) progressives in urban america. Those who live in nice, safe communities, and those who don't. But the funny thing? Those who live in dangerous areas love/care for their neighborhoods success just as much as those from nicer areas. I'm not ripping on nice areas, I think many of those people are personally rational and can create an intriguing article on racial dynamics. The problem is that this is neither. If Mr. Davis, as an apparently middle class white male, would like comment on how Blacks from a place like Watts, Oakland or Baltimore can improve their future, it requires month of research, interviewing residents and an understanding that it is also important to maintain the culture that comes from poverty. Charles Davis obviously did not do any of these research tactics, if he did, his article would have been much different. Smart people in poor/black areas don't talk about racial dynamics, we talk about community centers, promote events and discuss gentrification. This article is aimed at middle/upper class white people and adds zero intellectual substance to the discussion of Black consciousness.

    1. Um, what? The one statistic from the 1970s is there to bolster my point about children today who grow up with one more parent incarcerated. Those high school dropouts from the late '70s are the parents of kids today. And 68 percent of them have spent time in prison. That affects their children's lives.

      Also, fellow white college graduate, having spent significant time in "poor/black areas" in Philly and DC, I know that "smart people" there do in fact consider broader, institutional factors when discussing the state of their communities. Mass incarceration and unemployment are not individual failings that can be addressed with a multi-cultural fair.

    2. whitemansplainer5:52 PM

      I've read McSpadden's post several times and I can't for the life of me understand what he is saying. "Smart people in poor/black areas don't talk about racial dynamics..." Whaaa?

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I liked the raw emotion of your first draft better.

    Seriously, though: All I did was quote a comment you left on my blog without even adding any editorializing. Pretty sure that's okay.

    And one more thing: LA is a pretty big place. I know you Bay-area types love to hate, but it's not all Hollywood.

  8. My issue is that your blog is quite small, and thus my words/thoughts were less edited and more reactionary. I figured you could kill me on your own blog and then it would be over. Instead, you take it to Twitter, which is HUGE by internet standards. You made it very easy for people to track me, find my twitter account and call me a moron/idiot ect. Essentially, you took a relatively private thread and made it extremely public. I would NEVER have offered my opinion if I knew you were going to share it with your few thousand followers. I think if you went to reddit, got into a debate and then retweeted it the reaction would be similar to mine.

    Well have it your way. I guess I'll just consider this like a restaurant. I tried it for the first time, had a bad experience and will not be returning. I know you could care less. It's not my job to make you give a damn. This is the internet, there is no etiquette, but maybe my reaction will help you pause next time you do that with someone else.

    I guess I learned my lesson, so thanks for that. I made a mistake posting my opinion on the internet and will probably avoid doing so in the future. Sometimes it takes getting burned to learn a lesson. I guess I got burned.

    Goodbye Mr. Davis,

  9. Anonymous9:13 AM

    Sweet. Now Carlos has created a "Kevin McSpadden."

    It's almost as convincing as "Michael J Smith" and his cast of characters at SMBIVA.


  10. notimetobebanned1:05 PM

    People are so good at rational deductions. I think I have to get used to the fact that life is largely a mad house.

    The kind of thinking that says the level of crime and the level of poverty must have not only an arithmetic proportion (not exponential) but also an absolutely equal valued proportion (1:1) are the kinds of jag offs that the school system, poor or rich, produces. Because discipline and order are what count in school, not self indulgent speculation.

    Ever heard of chemical reactions? They can TAKE OFF because something more is happening or the concentrations react more intensely.
    Try: more poverty doesn't mean more crime. It may mean MUCH MORE crime. If you really wanted to at least try to sow doubt on the poverty problem and blame it all on race, at least come up with numbers (real or made up) that test between poor whites and poor blacks. Not apples and oranges. If blacks are proportionately more poor than whites, then you are already comparing apples and oranges, if you don't refine your data.

    It's so crazy this world. If this kind of rational thinking operates at credible levels, it gets ignored in favor of politics. If it trickles down to the little fool citizens, it matters not because they aren't in charge of anything. So mad.

  11. notimetobebanned1:21 PM

    Maybe it doesn't poll better except with wingnuts. They will never support a dem president anyway. So maybe it polls best with people who base their continued support for dems on those scary republicans. This feeds their conspiracy theorizing that yes indeedy, Obama "has to" please republicans...and look, he just happens to be doing it now.

    It's a nice idea to imagine the first lady thinks things, and says them, in our 24h marketing world.

    'because the right wing forces the left to compromise' is definitely a manifestation of conspiracy theorising minds.

  12. notimetobebanned8:15 PM

    What are people? People are things that take the height of calculated insincerity to be heartfelt truth worth supporting, as if it needed their support.

    "Dreaming of being a teacher."

    So, this plays to the right's/neo-lib's hatred of unionized teachers with their cushy paychecks, short hours, easy babysitting gigs and entitlement of not being fired for just any reason, as jobs to dream about, while we attack them as the last successfully standing union that they are, because they don't deserve all that upper class glory, and at the same time we'll tell those stupid little uppity rap star dreamers to aspire to those jobs, the kind we'll be cutting down. And let's not get into how we hate lawyers and envy their millions at once.
    Why then include business leaders, if we actually admire those guys? Because we don't really believe that black babies will ever get that high in our esteem. So, it's fun to taunt them a little, with a little last word to cherry top the cynical phrase.

    Political speech writing is the art of single note composition.

    I think this level of cynical contempt can legitimately be called black on black racism. This might be a more poignant and appropriate example of the phrase "reverse racism".

    If you pretend youre giving such a speech it's actually fun:

    "hey black dumbass, why don't you try harder? Is sitting your ass in jail with no resources and nothing to do keeping woo bweezy? you so keeyoot wid you widdle stwoopid wap swongs...maybwee I cut some mow wesowses untiw woo doo bwettaw? maybee woo need an awwest to weawn a wesson and twy hawder, widdle bwakie wackie woo wanna be wap staw".

    People are things, that when spoken to in this way, believe they deserve it, if they can pretend the person saying it is still somehow winking at them that they're one their side.

  13. notimetobebanned8:44 PM

    I thought I was being shittily misanthropic and smugly over the top. Then bothered to read the whole post article.
    Yup. People are like that. you can fart in their face, they'll call it roses, if you have status. You can shit on their plate and they'll thank you for the meatloaf.
    But what do you expect, these are college people, liberals, where identity politics rules and nothing the professor says shall go challenged, if you know what's good for you. Four years of that will grind down even the more promising young minds into self smacking twerps.

    And what of the value of the speech, where the audience has no taste. They could've had an inspiring and informative lecture, a poetry reading, or a soul choir symphony. Or, as luck had it, a hackneyed, exhausting laundry list of frederick douglas quotes (de rigueur) and hard-work racism cliches. In all cases, they would applaud and say "it was really good". So who cares, what more do they deserve? I just wonder how many of them have had to struggle and how many saw others in their black community struggling and failing and how many of those, are looking down their noses at those 'failures' who 'never tried', in this brief moment of narcissism for their oh-so-enviable achievement of a fucking lame bachelor's degree in some easy subjects, that cost too much and took too long.

  14. notimetobebanned9:04 PM

    she could've said "playing hollywood-liberal video games, watching the-liberal-media TV". what a shell game it is. They don't even bother to trick you, they just take your money from your pocket and you pretend you should've known better than to play with an expert trickster.

    She fights obesity: but don't waste your life actually getting into sports. Sit still in class and read a crummy book but don't sit still on the couch playing an interactive game that has puzzles. Also, the future of eduction is educational computer games! Buy computers, not nike's! But don't waste time using them! Be informed but don't watch tv. These dumb blackass young in their hoods can't do ANYthing right !

    The more I relive this the less it seems to be about anything, least of all education, other than taunting and insulting blacks, for some reason which, whatever it is, is surely weird.

    1. notimetobebanned11:24 PM

      Although I do take a overly, obnoxiously harsh tone, that's more due to my frustration with certain issues, previously mentioned. This avatar is used by one person, me, and not any other. Nor am I any other. (up to now anyway/thankfully, so I'll say right now this is the last 'notimetobebanned' post).
      Possibly due to my too-many-levels style which slips into a disgraceful mess in this format, I (and your earlier calling attention to my comments) has/may have drawn in an incredibly repetitive but highly attentive visitor (upon review you will notice that his avatar of kant-echism or something with 'kant' played on my merely dropping the philo's name). Maybe I'm too exciting or too much but whatever it is, it can attract a crazy. And it has here.
      I'm going to play armchair psychologist and call him a do-nothing psychopath. Or maybe he just goes 'too' too far where I only go too far, in his effort to outdo me. It's a busy, oppressive world and there are over 6 billion of us here so it shouldn't be surprising. Despite my earlier diminishing of e-stalking, I'm going to suggest you've found a little e-stalker. Who knows, maybe he's even a closet homosexual who can't admit it to himself and his homo put-downs are less heterodefensive and more repressed come-ons, all subconscious of course. (I'm not commenting on your orientation because I have no idea anyway...and I don't know how/why it even came up with that guy).
      But if you want to be sure of what is what, you'll have to check your ip address visits when you get weirdo-esque comments. But if they're a bit short and kind of on the retarded side, while also just barely clearing the clever mark, it'll probably be him.
      Just thought you'd like to know that this loser (*me*) is going to be driven away by
      1. I have other things to do , and
      2. yes, another psycho troll loser has reduced my motivation for hanging around.

      He (or she, I guess) can take satisfaction in that, if their life is such that such a thing gives them any. As a rabbi once said, "if you knew how much people have suffered, no matter how bad they are, you would not wish any more suffering upon them". I'm going to not wish any more suffering upon your e-stalker (much as I hate that term), in this miserable world.

      Keep up the great writing and thinking. And seriously dude, be as critical of feminism and its cliches as you are of everything else.

  15. Anonymous11:11 PM

    some boon doogle fest these comments are--better than the articles--gotta book mark this--fresh takes on the standard alternative feeds with the trademark names--nice work

  16. Don't worry, Michelle-O is a true believer. Recall that her thesis at Princeton largely described how difficult it is to be a black woman at Princeton.

  17. Anonymous2:05 AM

    The reason is never because. That should read, Michelle Obama on Friday said more African-American children don't go to college because they're lazy or Michelle Obama on Friday said the reason more African-American children don't go to college is they're lazy.

  18. Where did you get the idea that taking a vignette from a blog debate to twitter is verboten? That's just not how it works, you look silly posturing otherwise. When you're in public? People can see you.

  19. Anonymous6:56 PM

    You've lost the right to use the action of "completing military service" as a positive indicator thanks to your previous blog posts.

  20. Brilliant analysis, but there's just one question I have: what is "black culture"?

  21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Not sure... The best custom assignment writing help is here to help you with any academic work. Regardless of your level and the chosen deadline,your order will be delivered in time.