Friday, April 07, 2006

The plight of the young black man

Despite a time in our country's history when almost every people group across race and gender lines is making dramatic economic gains, one particular group is being left behind. That is the black male.

Several new studies show that the situation for young black men,
...has worsened in recent years even as an economic boom and a welfare overhaul have brought gains to black females...
The problem is deep and very real.

    • Almost 60 percent of black male high school dropouts in their early thirties have spent time in prison.
    • In 2004, about 72 percent of black male high-school dropouts had no jobs, either because they couldn't find work or because they were in jail.
Why is this? The answer is not simple. Various explanations include a persistance of discrimination, lack of education, fatherlessness, unemployment, drugs and alcohol, etc...

What becomes more and more obvious is the "failure of social scientists to adequately explain the problem, and their inability to come up with any effective strategy to deal with it." My heart goes out to these men.

I personally think that the lack of fathers has a LOT to do with it. What's the solution, however? I honestly don't know. It has to begin with education. But for that to succeed, education has to become valued. In the 'street' culture, it often is not. The cycle is self-perpetuating. Does anyone have any ideas?

For further insight on this topic, I'd encourage you to check out a book I recently read called Code of the Street by Elijah Anderson. I found it highly educational and it definitely dwelt heavily with this topic.

7 comments:

Oneway said...

Westy,

The reality is that in the United States today, a adult has to try very hard to remain poor. No nation has ever enjoyed the widespread level of comfort that people living in the U.S. enjoy.

If you:
1. Stay out of crime
2. Graduate high school
3. After turning 22, get married, stay married, and have kids only within a marriage
4. Keep any minimum-wage job,

you will not be poor in America. What else could a man need?

At some point, the discussion has to become about when is it wise to shift resources to more eager individuals, such as illegal immigrants in the U.S. and poverty overseas.

Westy said...

You point out that it is "easy" to be comfortable in this country by accomplishing basically 4 things; stay out of trouble, get an education, maintain a family, and stay employed (although I think more than minimum wage would be needed to support a family).
I would agree that by many measures, this is "easy". However, I think the point is that here is a huge segment of folks for whom it does not appear to be so "easy". Why? I don't think it's because they're less "eager".

In the book we're currently studying (The Christian Mind) in my men's group it says it well (p. 92):
The Christian mind, were it alive, would be continually overthrowing the moral judgements of the secular world- probing the moral proses so readily assumed with a penetrating check on the readier condemnations. It is too easy for a man who has never known what it is like to lack food or comfort, to pass judgement on a thief. It is too easy for a husband as hetersexual as a stallion to pass judgement on the paederast. It is too easy for the fulfilled businessman, whose pockets are laden and whose life is agog with stimulating and fruitful commercial competitiveness, to pass judgement on the ganging-up teenagers who desperately seek the thrusts and tensions of growth and rivalry in the drab backwaters of a now parcelled-out social fabric. It is far too easy, if you happen to have (by God's gift) a decent body and decent brain, to bag a ladder and climb into a decentish sort of niche in this well buttressed society of ours, to adopt a nice statuesque pose, and then to start shying moral ammunition at all those easy targets that the Press and the cosy bourgeoisie will applaud you for attacking.
It is too easy.

oneway said...

I doubt you are applying that quotation from Blamires properly. Your argument essentially rejects all non-experiential knowledge, which is chic nowadays but unsustainable.

See Sympathy

My point is that the prodigal son had to fail in order to succeed. Most poor adults in the United States are in rebellion. There are people who are poor because of lack of opportunity in other nations that would cherish a chance.

Westy said...

I doubt you are applying that quotation from Blamires properly. Your argument essentially rejects all non-experiential knowledge, which is chic nowadays but unsustainable.
No, I think this is exactly the point Blamires is making. He is NOT saying non-experiential knowledge should be rejected, but he is saying that it is too easy to fall on it and run with assumptions we hold. He is saying it is easy to call out the easily recognizable sins, but that we should not just succumb to recognizing the same failures the world does, but those it doesn't. Don't pile on where the world already does.

Shortly after, he says, "Where is there evidence of the Christian mind at work in this field today, bringing home to the popular consciousness the gaping rift between the morality of comfortable secularism and the morality of the Cross? What sign is there of a vigorous Christian dialogue with the world, for ever highlighting, not the obvious sins, not the much-publicized immoralities, but the subtle, insidious evil which ensnares the hearts of the successful, respectable, established, applauded men and women-always surely the Devil's readiest prey?

Because the world is evil, its judgements are not to be relied upon."


I totally agree with your statement using the analogy of the prodigal son. The rebellion of many of our country's youth is causing cycles of poverty to continue. But my question is, how can we bring them out of that rebellion? How can we persuade the prodigal son to come home? The typical young black male does not understand the ramifications for the choices he's making. There is not value seen in making the right choices, and somehow, we need to make it obvious the results the poor decision will bring.

Greg said...

>> I'd encourage you to check out a book I recently read called Code of the Street by Elijah Anderson <<

Well, I'll put it on my list... I hope to get to it before this year's out. =)

Oneway said...

>>Don't pile on where the world already does.<<

The Blamires stuff you posted is great to foster discussion, but it does not present a complete picture. Secular Humanism does have some glimpses of the truth which overlap the goals of a Biblical worldview.

Also, the Christian's duty to respect the freedom of the rebellious (within reason) stands in clear contrast to our theraputic culture that wants to invent pathologies and disorders to remove any accountability from the poor.

>>How can we persuade the prodigal son to come home?<<

The awful truth seems to be: we cannot. The prodigals must choose to come home. We are to celebrate every one that does.

Anonymous said...

you must be kidding...

why work for $10.00 an hour if you can sell dope and make that, without paying taxes?

delete my comment and you are the ignorant one.

check the statistics.

who is selling drugs?
where are they being sold?

oh yeah, the police are putting cases on these poor young black men, because they have nothing better to do.