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..."
Well stated. The obsession with race in this country is sickening (see the idiotic thread here today about a barber who won't cut black hair.) I always say, it's the culture not the race!
"Shopping" is a euphemism for stealing, just as "getting paid" is a euphemism for robbing somebody. Shoplifting is also sometimes called the "five finger discount."
"We don't expect to see looting"
I have a thought on this, but am having difficulty putting it together concisely, so bear with me, here.
I have honestly begun to believe that the MSM, with their out of focus tunnel vision on so many things, collectively thought that focussing so heavily on mayhem, and painting a picture that only included black faces in the looting and shooting "mobs" during the aftermath of Katrina, was somehow an indictment of our society as a whole, as well as a "racist" southern state. It was meant to be a compelling cry for more state intervention, to show us all how bad we still were. It didn't quite come across that way, and now the MSM is suddenly reporting looting in the aftermath of every hurricane, in an attempt at rationalizing away the messy perception that they created themselves, unintentionally.
Does this make any sense at all?
I am from around here. I was merely hoping that the irresponsible folks with diarrhea of the fingers would STFU for once.
I kid, I kid. I kid because I love.
I know. :)
BTW, these phrases are used not only by blacks, but by people of any color who do this sort of thing. I've heard (white) college students talk about the five finger discount.
I saw the tape........incredible!
good luck with that, and I join you in that hope.
"We Have to Exterminate White People" -Dr. Kamau Kambon of Howard University
They are the result of their own lack of effort.
Another great quote by Steele from the article:
"President Johnson's famous Howard University speech, which launched the Great Society in 1965, outlined this balance of power by explicitly spelling out white responsibility without a single reference to black responsibility. In the 40 years since that speech no American president has dared correct this oversight."
The harm that the Great Society has wielded on people in general and blacks in particular cannot be understated.
<< Let's keep this discussion on a high level, please. >>
The cost of the positive disencentive to taking responsiblity for oneself, also known as the "Great Society," is up around Ten Trillion Dollars.
That high enough for you?
And God alone knows how many more Billions of creative and innovative and productive and industrious Americans' confiscated Dollars in white and black hands have been cynically blown on turning Louisianna's black and white indolent into effectively-hopeless and helpless state and city dependants.
On buying their votes.
How's this for a high level...
I was recently charged with being a racist by my coworker because my coworker(who happens to be black) overheard my desktop radio at very low volume levels I might add)and got offended becuase I happened to be listening to Sean Hannity on WABC AM radio. Sean was talking about the "Millions More" march and had on various black leaders as guests. My coworker, made the charge with my boss, went to HR even blew up and made a scene in the office at me in front of all of my coworkers, gossiped about it to the rest of the office and even harrassed me in our breakroom. All becuase she blamed her offense at me as if I control her actions and emotions.
Dispite the treachery I was recieving, I did the right thing, kept my mouth shut, documented the entire transgression and didn't speak a word of it to anyone except my boss.
After all was said and done, she wasn't reprimanded either verbally or written becuase she was black and had the race card in her pocket. Had the roles been reversed, as a white male, you betcha I would have been fired.
The only satisfaction I recieved was knowing that her own actions and words, despite how illogical and irrational, are perpetuating the culture of 'low expectations' so prevalent in the black community. The saddest part is that she is completely oblivious to the fact that her own actions were racist and bigoted, that she is the only one accountable for her own actions and words (not me), and that it is her own personal issue and perogative over what offends her (not mine).
Liberals indeed have a some sort of mental disorder, race and skin color aside.
See post 34.
People have historically segregated themselves by cultures, subcultures and religion. A major difference in this country is that, whatever the ethnic group, the second generation at least picks up a working knowledge of English and takes up a love of football, hotdogs, and discount shopping at big box stores. In a sense we have a shared culture, on the other hand we don't. No offense to my Southern friends, or my Califonicator friends, but this New Yorker experiences culture shock even when among WHITE folk in those areas.
He really isnt talking about the flood except that it exposed a problem in the black community.
In a microsm (sp) I saw a minority woman in Houston who had gotten government housing there. She promptly declared "This is how the rich people live, I am not going back to New Orleans when I can get more here".
Its an entitlement mentality that allows generations of New Orleans lower income people to remain in public housing and subsist mainly on welfare. I see the problem coming that a lot of lower income housing was destroyed along with large middle class, white communities (St Bernard). When they rebuild they are not going to rebuild older shotgun houses that lower income people could afford. Instead they will build better larger homes that will affect the demographics here in New Orleans.
Already the need is so desperate for workers that Burger Kings are offering 8 dollars an hour and $500 a month for a year as a bonus. Thats a $6,000 bonus to work at Burger King. Target is begging for workers offering $12.25 an hour. Its insane. You see more signs offering work at rates substantially above minimum wage than you do hurricane cleanup signs!
The problem here is that the lower income classes are living high on the hog right now with the FEMA, Red Cross, private moneys. You get $2000 initially, then $2300 every three months for living expenses from FEMA. The state governments, subsidized by the feds are giving food stamps out like Halloween candy. Red Cross is handing out cash. Lower income people with the entitlement mentality see no reason to go out and work and lose out on all the free cash.
Anecdotally, friends who own businesses have actually gotten phone calls from employees saying they were not returning because they did not need the job right now!
Sorry to get so long winded, but this is a discussion we have in our office right now. In fact some of our lower paid operators (computer) could make more money at Target and dont need the college they have!
This line he wrote is pushing it. Really a bit of crap.
It's in no way shape or form my fault regarding what happened to anyone in New Orleans. Whether they be black or white. It was a huge natural disaster. I have absolutely no guilt about it nor have I given much thought to the complexion of the people hurt. Only that they were Americans and needed some help. And I helped.
With that said it's indeed an absurd, asinine, insane and stupid idea to build a city in a large hole surrounded by water. So why do it again?
If the subject is poor black folk in New Orleans and the conversation is about their plight in life if finger pointing is demanded I can only say that the "work ethic" I see in many people was lacking. Lacking not because these people are black but because they were stuck in a corner. The old "don't give a man a fish teach him how to fish" adage applies. But instead the politicians in Louisiana didn't construct a system that promoted business growth in poor communities they just pretty much sat there until election time.
We have very successful people of all colors and we have people without much of all colors. Generally, all those folks have the opportunity to succeed in this country if they want to. They just have to have the desire. I'm not stopping them from doing what they want to. Are you?
If we need to do something that helps poor folks let's give them a way to make their own money. Let's pass the Fair Tax Plan and let business explode. As it is now the tax system is racist from what I can see.
" The generation of today lives off the government and passes down the welfare checks for the next generation to mooch."
This is not true of all; too many, but a long way from all. Broad generalizations are going to be offensive. Do you like to be on the receiving end of a broad, negative generalization? I don't, particularly if it doesn't apply.
I wish I'd been more exacting in my excerpting from the article. All too many folks at FR are too lazy or too paranoid to click on links. They read only the posted excerpts and go off on irrelevant tangents.
"What has happened here is that too many (not all mind you) blacks have relied upon white man/liberal guilt instead of taking responsibility for making their own way and we as a society have suffered."
I wish the fine folks of FR could see my neighborhood. On my street alone, ten black families reside, nine white families reside, and one Asian family reside. It's an upper middle class neighborhood and those with the biggest houses are the black families. My point is that the "too many" is shrinking and I wouldn't have realized this had I not lived in this neighborhood.
With that said it's indeed an absurd, asinine, insane and stupid idea to build a city in a large hole surrounded by water. So why do it again?