Apr 16·edited Apr 16

I had forgotten about this segment with Glenn and John. I don't know how because it has to be one of my all-time favorites.

As a teen matriculating into college in '83, I was confronted with these feelings big-time, and so were most of my peers. It was an experience that ultimately led to my later and permanent disdain for affirmative action policies, particularly the ones that focused on African-Americans.

*Before* my friends and I entered (predominately White) colleges and universities, we believed we were ready because our elders led us to believe just that. But in most cases, it took less than a semester for us to realize we had been hoodwinked so to speak. And suddenly, you are this kid having to face some really deep insecurities.

We have all experienced some version of this, but this is different. Instead of being forced to rise up and confront the issue as is, pass or fail, you are instead immediately embraced by this mesmerizing culture of progressive excuse-making and patronizing, which feels pretty good at first and even empowering later on. But deep down, somehow or another, you realize it's a false power. But one that nevertheless sustains indefinitely until you finally decide to break free and deal with reality.

If and when you ever do, it's pretty late in the game. I hate to be cliché and say, "It's a vicious cycle", but it is.

And the irony is crazy. This nonsense not only affects African-Americans negatively under the guise of helping, but it simultaneously feeds into the most basic beliefs of true-blue White racists.

If and when you ever do finally wake up and achieve, legitimately, real empowerment sets in, and it's a much better feeling. Trust me.

Yet still, you cannot fully escape the frustrations that come with observing generations behind you experiencing a similar madness; in some cases, for less legitimate reasons.

Fact: There are people in this world who genuinely believe that Black people are innately inferior intellectually and that there is nothing anybody can do about it. There are also people who believe quite strongly that White people are innately and *especially* gifted intellectually. (And it's not just White people who buy into these ideas.)

To be blunt, I am definitely not one of those people. In fact, in my experience, many of the folks who believe as such are typically not very deep thinkers. (I am trying to be nice here.) I would even venture to say that a lot of them are dealing with their own versions of inferiority complex.

That said, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter ultimately. Because if you are a serious person--or a serious people--realizing other people have self-esteem issues will never cure your own. We must all deal with our own issues of insecurity and underachievement, one way or another; but preferably in ways that achieve genuine, positive results.

Or we can just keep going around in circles.

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I am happy to hear that you agree with me that some people are unable to provide for their own needs. As to your list of things one needs to do to survive, you forget about people who inherit property. I personally know an example of a woman who has not had to work for most of her life thanks to a large house she had inherited from her parents. People can also inherit other sources of income.

Yes, there are people who can earn quite a lot of money thanks to the fact that lots of other people can't afford to buy a house or apartment. At least some of these people ruthlessly exploit the situation of their tenants.

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It's a hard line to walk - the one on which one finds a pride and blessing in one's race or ethnicity and at the same time finds a willingness to critique trends or behaviors manifested by some (many?) who also belong. For me, it's the very line God called the Israelites to walk as recorded in the Old Testament.

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"the editor has had trouble getting black writers to write about something other than race. He's asked them to, and they say, no, what I want to do is this. And there's a value to it. But if you ask me, it's a little 1970, as if nobody else would write about these things if black people didn't."

If black people didn't, then white people might! Horrors!

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Mar 23·edited Mar 23

Need to listen to a Greenwald interview of Amy Wax and Norman Finkelstein on the same topic which has put Amy Wax under possible dismissal. It is good to have this topic be spoken of almost simultaneously. Makes for greater fire to address.

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It's really so much simpler than all that. It really is.

We overcomplicate this very human issue by pouring 'race' all over it (or age, or sex, or ??)... but the complication is artificial.

Everyone is asked, challenged, pushed (positively, negatively) to prove themselves. And everyone believes that that challenge is unfair, undeserved, not right, no good, and comes inevitably from a place of irrational bias.

You didn't pick me for the basketball team 'cause I'm short. I didn't make the team because I'm short. I sat the bench, because I'm short!!! And that's just not right; I'm just as good as those other guys!

So prove it, bucko. Kick their butts all over the court. Fast break 'em till they can't stand. Rainbow jumper their ass! And well -- you either do, or don't. And if you can't, you learn pretty quickly to shut-up and go home and work to get better. That's all there is to it.

I had a conversation years ago with a young, Black substitute teacher who told me, "My class is filled with racists! And it's just so hard!" I asked what they were doing...why she believed they were racists. She said it was because they were always on her....they were always challenging her in class....they were giving her a hard time. She said, "Just because I'm Black, I have to prove my humanity every single day!" She was understandably upset.

I probably didn't help because I told her...'You may or may not have actual real racists in the class, who knows. But everything you describe happens to every new, young, substitute teacher. That's how students of that age act. And they act that way consistently. And they do it, with more than a little joy when they make the newbie feel and act uncomfortable. It's not a race thing; it's a young, newbie, substitute thing.

I knew a man, an experienced manager, who was hired into an upper level position in a new firm. He was pleased, of course, but weeks later ....when we met he was upset, angry, frustrated. "I just don't get it," he told me, "They hired me because of my record, but no one listens to what I have to say. I find myself working twice as hard just to do what I was doing with the back of my hand at the old place. It's not right; it's not fair. And it's because I'm just not one of the 'good old boys'!"

This refrain is sung by all of us, at one time or another, and usually multiple times for multiple reasons. It's a very familiar tune.

But we're almost always wrong.

The truth is: We're all doubted. We're all challenged. And pushback is a given.

Of course we're all tempted to find comfort in the crutch...in the rationalization that these challenges are coming to me NOT because it's fair that my bona fides must be validated...but because, so goes Temptation's Whisper, "I'm ... a fill-in-the-blank; and that's not right!"

Maybe it's the 'because I'm Black'...maybe because I'm a woman... maybe because I'm old...or short....or young...or male...or White...or have an accent....or am Jewish...or Catholic....or from a small town...or didn't go to an Elite School....or you name it. We always feel it's unmerited. We always feel we're not appreciated as much as we most truly deserve. We ask in angry anguish: How could THOSE PEOPLE be so wrong???

You want to spend your time writing about how hard it is to be YOU? To be a member of a class or group or category that -- by golly & gosh -- is just not treated right...THAT's what you want to write about? That's the size of the cross you carry? That's what you want us to appreciate?

Well forget it.

No one really cares. Not really. It's tough to be anybody. It's tough to be alive (tougher, I would imagine, to be dead). And nobody knows the trouble any one of us has seen. So what?

So yes, we're all going to be challenged; and probably, in an ideal world in which our own best attributes are most fully known & appreciated, a goodly portion of those challenges might go away. But this is not that world; and they're not going away. In fact, they're doubling down.

And if we really were as good as we think we are...we'd embrace every single challenge there was. You want me to prove it? Well bring it on. We'll see who's standing at the end.

Either that or we melt, we whine, we complain, and protest. In our bitterness, maybe, we even refuse: Hell no, I'm not going to have to demonstrate to you that I can write a sentence or do simple arithmetic problem. Ok, that's your choice. The opportunity passes you by. And when that happens (as it will) we just become that much more bitter, that much more resistant...that much more convinced that 'It's not ME; it's them!! It's their fault!"

Maybe we wake-up; maybe we grow-up...but increasingly that possibility seems less and less likely as the State rushes to intervene, kiss it and make it better. Maybe the steel is stronger for the fire...but damn, that fire is sure hot (and did I tell you I don't really like it??).

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Oh, Jean Paul, you do get yourself so revved up emotionally. You seem to take everything so personally. You might want to take a look at that.

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There are fabulous economic opportunities in the US being accessed by well-educated foreigners because our public schools are miserably failing to educate enough students to qualify as doctors, engineers, etc.

RE: Detroit It was hollowed, after the auto industry there collapsed, because its public schools would/could not educate students to a level of competency and competitiveness, then and now.. The auto industry, like so many other union and government jobs, camouflaged the root problem of widespread undereducation.

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Central to any argument is the willingness to have it, and to have it honestly. That requires looking beyond external factors involved and considered the individual's role. Can black people succeed? Of course, they can. It is silly to even ask that considering the millions of black people working in a cross-section of industries and living productive, normal lives.

What is mind-boggling is the contention in some quarters that life is somehow more difficult for minorities today than it was in the Jim Crow era and before. That defies all logic and reason. The convenient playing of the race card for any negative outcome that a black person experiences has become an exclusive excuse that no other group can access. What is the white guy's reason for coming up short? The Hispanic person's? The Asian's? Everyone fails in something at some point. Many people fail often; it's part of testing one's limits and failure is integral to learning. It's when you fail repeatedly at the same thing that this becomes worrisome, as that indicates a refusal to learn.

Meanwhile, a host of policy decisions - from eliminating standardized tests to cutting out honors classes and so forth - represent a different and far more destructive form of bigotry. Those actions, usually undertaken by white leftists, are the worst kind of condescension. They say that blacks cannot achieve and what's more, that no one should expect them to achieve. What a toxic message to send. Imagine telling a five year old black kid that he/she can never amount to more than the lowest common denominator in the neighborhood simply because he/she is black.

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So Glenn, a former drug addict, and deadbeat/absent dad says collectively black people have something to prove. No it seems like the burden of proof is on him. As Prof. Gates alluded to, discrimination often occurs under “Ceteris Paribus” conditions. If you don’t know what the Latin term means, get his “linguist” co-host to interpret. I’m sure he’s proved himself by mastering every major language since antiquity!

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Assorted thoughts inspired by Glenn and John's remarks about proving yourself:

Until age-related decline really kicks in, how many of us, as individuals, have learned nearly as much as we are able to learn or achieved a level of physical well-being near what we could?

Until we believe that we have come close to topping out our own personal capabilities, it hardly seems to make sense to have too much concern about differences in averages across various characteristics between people of our own race and others.

(How much we push toward our various potentials is a matter of personal choice. However, Glenn mentions "competence", and we do owe it to ourselves and our fellow humans to try to attain a level of competence to produce things of value sufficient to trade for our basic needs.)

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And I take Glenn's point that Black people are assumed because of "culture" to have a metaphorical disability when the full intellectual potential of many Black people has never, ever been tried.

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I am going to be a possibly very insulting devil's advocate. As someone with an autism diagnosis I would have a limited ability to prove my full humanity if the standard was more right-brain and holistic. This does not mean that I do not have strengths that can benefit people who don't have a disability.

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Glenn: Please quit beating yourself up about this particular nub of reality. The trouble with self-analysis is that sometimes we are too close to the forest to see the trees. Ask yourself (a) What is the typical home situation in which black kids find themselves? (b) What comprises their MAIN substance of their cultural life? (c) What subjective drags are there on them that might help to explain the shortfalls?

To make the most of our intellectual potential, growing up, we all need to live in a LEARNING ENVIRONMENT, with appropriate and attainable goals spelled out for us, complete with encouragement, interest in our progress, and censure when we stray from the path to the top where we unavoidably find ourselves in competition with others who HAVE grown up with such a support system, part material, part psychological. I hope everyone agrees with these fundamentals.

This may be a given in the few families that provide such a support system (intellectually, materially, by example and by encouragement, and where the child's playmates/classmates are not a drag on achieving, but are themselves competitors in scholastic achievement). In too many grade schools where the student body happens to be black or mostly black, we've all heard the student peer criticism of high-scoring students by those getting poorer grades, "Oh, you're just trying to be white!" Nothing similar is said of the good athletes. We excel in athleticism. Only in the scholastic arena.

In reaction, smart black kids sometimes are teased by their peers for doing well, stunting their zeal for knowledge and for excelling. (Yet later in life, when the noxious discouraging kids grow up and get in trouble, who do they go to to bail them out? The very kids they used to tease in school for being studious nerds.)

There are many debates over which educational path is better, an all-black college or an integrated college? Without this question devolving into questions of black pride, and acknowledging that many of us excel after attending an all-black institution, (a) the integrated situation is more likely to be cutting edge by its very nature, since politics see to it that such schools receive all the support that budgets and the brightest minds can provide. Thus are the odds subtly shifted in favor of the integrated situation. (b) A secondary benefit for black kids is, they become comfortable competing against ALL kids, so as life moves on, they inculcate a self-confidence which may temporarily elude them otherwise. Black pride makes it hard to admit this, but the dynamics simply operate that way, whether we like it or not. World-Class means what it says.

This is not to take away anything from black grads of all-black institutions. it is simply to shine a light on a psychological reality. We've all heard of black kids who feel adrift the first time they find themselves in an all-ethnicities learning environment for the first time. It's a form of culture-shock not experienced by black kids who have been in an all-inclusive learning environment since kindergarten.

Please, critics, don't let black pride skew your response to this reality. It is what it is. It is real. We deny it at our peril.

Then. while all parents want/hope their kids become achievers, which has the better likelihood? The kids in whose homes more-educated parents discuss matters of substance, have bookshelves full of books, who engage in constructive intellectual exercises such as debates, where the parents have time and motivation to push their kids to achieve, where they hear gatherings of grownups discuss weighty subjects? Or the homes where instead of books there is TV constantly on, where the parents themselves are ill-equipped to counsel or tutor their kids, where home life may be edgy instead of harmonious? These extremes are deliberately described as such for effect. There are many gradations from one to the other, but the more supportive the home is, the better the kids are likely to do scholastically and, let's face it, morally. (The lure of the street can derail the best of intentions. If what's hip or what's happening takes precedence over intellectual development, it will show by age 16.)

Finally, if the child's grades are mediocre, there is less outside help available (scholarships, programs of study, etc.)

These are the brutal realities having nothing to do with "black culture," but rather with the presence or absence of support systems that nurture scholastic development and self-confidence. And along the way, the more children are exposed to what life has to offer, the broader their horizons and the more intense are their ambition and goals. Black kids need that self-confidence deep down in order to prevail when the going gets tough.

Role models are also important. So the more that children can meet or see successful blacks, the more motivated they will be to emulate THEM, not the ne'er-do-wells that abound everywhere.

We seldom realize that economically-challenged white kids must run the same gauntlet to keep up with the pack, and/or lead the pack. It's just that they face no prejudice as they try, and find acceptance more readily and easily.

In the end, each of us is a product of our personal merits, what we have met along the way, and where our perseverance takes us. If we know we face greater challenges based on our appearance and the prejudice that triggers, we must prepare all the more to meet and overcome the barriers meant to discourage us. The US Army's slogan is "Be all you can be." Good advice for any of us to follow. To arrive where you want to be, do what is needed to get there. Persevere. Delay gratification until you reach your goal. Sidestep the bad and destructive; embrace the constructive. Avoid bad habits; develop good habits. As my elders taught me at age 7: "Your body is the temple in which your spirit lives. To nurture your sprit, respect its temple. Treat it right." Nourish it; don't abuse it. All things in moderation.

These are not mere aphorisms; they are tips on how best to prevail in a competitive, challenging world. In the end, YOU are responsible for you.

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“What I fear is not that black Americans will fail to measure up. I fear that we’ll never know if they do, because they will not confront the struggle head on.”

I LOVE this statement. Absolutely true. And I think this can only happen when well-meaning but ultimately ignorant Woke white people STOP patronizing black Americans.


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Mar 21·edited Mar 21

You have about say, half with truancy problems. Like in The Wire.

Real problems. Hard to practice factorization when when man no.22 is pounding out mom, sister got a train run on, brother shot dead, rent tripled, no more school meals, 1000 dollar emergency finally.happened, etc. Social welfare issues that take about a generation to fix.

The other half just need a foot up they ass. Mom and Pop buy them a PS5 as a distraction device, no focus on class. So someone needs to put a foot up they ass. 10,000 times. Until they habits change.

Simple as.

No need for any philosophizing.

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