Skip to comments.Witness: Blacks, whites, and the politics of shame in America -- by Shelby Steele
Posted on 10/26/2005 9:20:58 AM PDT by EveningStar
Probably the single greatest problem between blacks and whites in America is that we are forever witness to each other's great shames. This occurred to me in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, when so many black people were plunged into misery that it seemed the hurricane itself had held a racial animus. I felt a consuming empathy but also another, more atavistic impulse. I did not like my people being seen this way. Beyond the human mess one expects to see after a storm like this, another kind of human wretchedness was on display. In the people traversing waist-deep water and languishing on rooftops were the markers of a deep and static poverty. The despair over the storm that was so evident in people's faces seemed to come out of an older despair, one that had always been there. Here--40 years after the great civil rights victories and 50 years after Rosa Parks's great refusal--was a poverty that oppression could no longer entirely explain. Here was poverty with an element of surrender in it that seemed to confirm the worst charges against blacks: that we are inferior, that nothing really helps us, that the modern world is beyond our reach...
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
Let's keep this discussion on a high level, please. Thank you.
Rosa Park's generation would have taken responsibility for themselves, their family and their neighbors.
Here's the problem with this analysis. White people, with all their supposed advantages, were stuck in the flood, too.
The flood had nothing to do with race. There is no shame in being a victim of a flood.
"Beyond the human mess one expects to see"
We don't expect to see looting
Interesting article, but I don't think that black people's feeling of inferiority and helplessness was a product of slavery. I grew up in the 1950's and my black friends - even though Jim Crow laws still existed - certainly did not feel inferior, and those who lived in places where there was no institutionalized racism felt that they were going to go places and do things.
The "Great Society" essentially put an end to this. Blacks could no longer be individuals, some of whom would do well and some of whom would not, but had to be a group, defined by the government as helpless, needy and an object of constant care and concern. It may have been well meant, but it was poison nonetheless.
Being regarded as nothing but one more member of a dysfunctional, needy client group is enough to undermine anyone's resolve. The remarkable thing is that some individual blacks have done as well as they have.
Steele also says this:
"The black shame of inferiority (the result of oppression, not genetics) cannot be overcome with anything less than a heroic assumption of responsibility on the part of black Americans. In fact, true equality--an actual parity of wealth and ability between the races--is now largely a black responsibility. This may not be fair, but historical fairness--of the sort that resolves history's injustices--is an idealism that now plagues black America by making black responsibility seem an injustice."
"We don't expect to see looting."
Especially by the cops. I'm still floored at the nerve of those two female police officers who kept on shopping knowing damn well the camera was recording everything.
Ping to post #10
Steele has taken a big step.
the problems we are having as a national people shall continue to prove intractible so long as:
1. for various reasons, people are not allowed to (carefully, specifically) note that there are indeed empirically verifiable problems, and...
2. the discussion is dominated by racism (old fashioned, plus reverse-racism, plus "the soft bigotry of low expectations"), tired old excuses for extortion, doggerel-spouting mo-tards, race-baiting politics, and PC social theory.
These problems are matters of culture, not genetics.
These problems are matters of culture, not material wealth or poverty.
These problems are a matter of culture, not history.
You're not from around here, are you.
Whenever we discuss race here, there is always a chance that a few hyper vocal folks will post thoughtless comments of the top of their heads which will embarrass Free Republic and make the black FR members feel uncomfortable.
Their behavior speaks volumes about the culture of immunity and impunity that engulfs the N.O.P.D. It has been this way for a long time there.
Very good article--thanks for posting it.
To summarize Shelby Steele's thoughts--treating people first and foremost as INDIVIDUALS rather than members of ethnic, racial, national group is the key to the individual and social well being. We cannot choose our ethnicity, race, or national origin, but we all can choose responsibility for our lives and we all can choose not blame the rest of the world if we fail.
"...who kept on shopping..."
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