wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Fixing the ghettos

I'm not sure quite what to make of Cobb's essay "Happy Darkies". Obviously he's coming at this from a different perspective than I am (duh) and it's one I don't have a good feel for.
Sociological blather follows.

I don't have that kind of connection with the Latino barrios, because I'm not from the Mexican/Central American/Caribbean cultural mix; Mom's people came to New Mexico way before any of those countries even existed, and I have more in common with black and Vietnamese Air Force brats than I do with your j-random middle-aged Hispanic guy in Phillips or South St. Paul. Cinco de Mayo and la Dia de los Muertos are just another couple of days to me. *shrug*

Anyway, his essay seems to recognize that the black middle class has effectively given up on the ghettos. I think that was inevitable once housing discrimination became illegal, since that discrimination was the only thing holding the upper and middle-class blacks in the ghetto. Now, as Cobb recognizes, the black middle class and upper class are mostly distinguishable from others in their class by their skin color and maybe by the churches they attend. Their involvement with the ghetto is pretty minimal, on a par with Warren Buffett's involvement with the poor whites of rural Nebraska. Still, there's a lot of concern being expressed by Cobb and other "bourgie" blacks about what are unquestionably pockets of Third World poverty in the middle of the limitless billion-volt American future. His conclusion is that pretty much the only real resource ghetto blacks can rely on is the black churches, and he's not real happy about it...this conclusion is mixed up with the notion that blacks as a group have never gotten recognition for their contributions to mainstream American culture, which I think is just ignorant of him. Anybody who knows anything about rock and jazz understands that without blacks, there would never have been any rock, to say nothing of jazz as we know it. In addition, while there have been great white torch singers, the iconic torch singer is, without question, Billie Holiday; more recently, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin. Professional sports is dominated by black players, not only in basketball and football but also in baseball. The sole exception to that rule is hockey, where the "National" in NHL refers to Canada, not the U.S. Black entertainers outside the music field have likewise had a heavy impact on American culture.

This is a digression from the main thrust of the discussion. Cobb goes on to question why poor blacks haven't left the cities and moved out to resuscitate dying small towns in Mississippi and elsewhere, but evades the question of just how we're supposed to persuade single mothers with little education to voluntarily leave the inner city and take up subsistence agriculture in the country. As an ideal, it does have some superficial appeal, but I think it's really not much more practical than the "back to the land" movement among Sixties hippies. The bottom line in my book is that he's right about the churches. If anything is going to help these people avoid the traps of drugs and crime and teenage poverty, it's going to be those churches, but they can't do it on their own. It may be necessary to terminate all federal and state aid that doesn't flow through those churches, since trying to help these people on an individual basis contributes to the disintegration of the community, and when things get as messed up as they have in the inner cities you need to start favoring the community over the individual because otherwise those individuals aren't going to be helped in any way that lasts.

That's my $0.02, anyway.
Tags: culture w/o politics, linkagery
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