Often when it comes to dealing with issues of race and the poor, many viewpoints get thrown into the mix. Some are great, others are laced with extreme views that don’t really benefit anyone outside of those who choose to push their ideas into the public square just to hear themselves speak. Others are just random observations, that are neither good nor bad, per se.
Some say that minorities and poor people use their situation as an excuse, and if they’d just suck it up and make their world on their own, they’d be better off. Others preach the idea that we need to throw money at it, via taxpayer money, and that is the way to solve the problems. Some others yet, recognize deeper philosophical differences that need to be worked out, and that maybe the solutions lie somewhere between the first two viewpoints.
We’ve ended slavery. We’ve established civil rights. We’re a free country, so we can accomplish anything we want to, if we just put forth the effort.
Many of these arguments have been used by those who wish to keep their money and not support these supposed welfare queens, and blacks, hispanics and other minorities who find themselves in the blighted, and often neglected communities. They argue that charities and churches are supposed to help those in need, not “my tax dollars”.
But, at the same time, they forget that all things are run through human created organizations. The people who run the organizations often run things according their own priorities, whether they be pure, or just for a public spotlight to say “see, I’m helping”, or for limited actions designed to help one situation that is a symptom, but not another closely related situation that may actually be the problem that brings about the symptoms.
Some exude the need for more tax dollars going to fixing problems in these communities. They argue private institutions and contributors just aren’t doing enough. Often times, it is these same people who argue for government intervention, who themselves often feel they can not help through private contributions due to their own economic situations, or that they need not, because it truly is the government’s job to provide. They say it is a job of the collective society to take care of loss less fortunate, or those being wronged due to racism or any other number of reasons.
Of the above arguments, one statement is clear. We are living in a free country and can do anything we want, if we put forth the effort. But who’s effort is needed to lift entire segments of the population up to a standard of decent living?
Some say it lays on the shoulders of the individual, others say all members of society are responsible. I would argue that both are right to a certain extent. A collective responisbility does exist, but should comprise of vast amounts of individuals being responsible. Not through taxation necessarily, as most fo my readers here know I prefer to keep government out of our daily lives as much as possible.
I’m not saying that we need to eliminate all government programs, but that we should work to eliminate such a large need. For those who truly need the help, by all means let some of our tax dollars go towards programs. But individually, it is our responsibility to do as much as we can personally to elevate our own position, and also to team up with our neighbors and/or friends to mutually benefit each other to get where we’d like to go.
Here in Des Moines, many of the schools in the poorer neighborhoods saw less help than other schools in more well to do areas of the metro area, rather than equating the disbursement of monies to where they were most needed. Some have commented that the school board made their decisions based on economics of the local population and attendance. Others have made comments that it is the poor, and more minority driven schools that were being shafted by politics as usual from the White power structure in place.
I would love to be able to say they are wrong, but I would most likely be wrong in saying so. And in that instance I can find automatic arguments against those who say the government should support the people’s needs. It’s obvious that the government, running down through the school board, showed their hands as to what ranks in importance. Why help those schools where the kids don’t care, have high dropout rates, truancies, vandalism, etc? On the surface, from a strictly economic, on paper assessment, this argument CAN make sense. Unfortunately, those decision makers are looking merely at paper documents, and not at the social problems and needs. Maybe if they allocated more money to these schools, giving them new equipment, or providing an extra program or two to help the students make it through school, the kids might again see a reason to actually give a damn, when they see that those in power also care.
But then where does the individual responsibility come in to play, you might ask. And it starts with YOU, and ME, and your neighbor, your friend, the guy or girl down the street. The children themselves, and their parents as well, also share a huge part of the responsibilities.
I read in The Black Sentinel’s blog that a white male, who is a high school dropout with a criminal record has a greater chance of getting called back for a job interview than that of a black man with a clean criminal history and a college degree.
Does this mean, that black people need not even try? Absolutely, positively HELL NO. If anything, it should cause us to work harder at flooding the job markets with more qualified black people. Is it an uphill battle? Unequivocally the answer is yes. Right or wrong, any stereotypes held by those in power within the dominant community, must be overcome with a greater effort than should be required. It has also been argued on The Black Sentinel’s blog, that many of problems stereotypically assigned to blacks and other minorities actually affect the white community more, not only in sheer numbers, but also by percentages. While the facts don’t lie, perceptions and people’s reasoning often play a bigger part of life than facts. Ask anybody who’s ever argued politics.
Blacks and minorities must fight back with actions, not arguments. They must form a tighter bond, like they did with the fight for the Civil Rights movement. Not to the exclusion of the white community, but in spite of members within the white community who prefer their dominant role, while including those who do mean well.
It seems, over the past couple generations, that simple things like respect for elders has lost its place in society. We all say it takes giving respect to get respect, and yet, we always seem to apply it to everyone else. As if we ourselves must be given the respect before we give it out. As parents, it is our job to instill in our children the opposite of that new found individualistic hubris. No matter how pressured we as parents may be, trying to maintain our lives, be it with our jobs, or our money, or health issues, we must focus on making sure we stay on top of our kids’ lives.
We’re put into a position by default as parents, not to be their friends (like we promised our parents we’d be much cooler parents than they were to us), but to guide them through their childhood to make sure they take advantage of all that is being offered to them to make them better prepared for life later on. We have to make sure they go to school, they do their homework and study if need be. We make sure they get the food they need, and that we educate them on life lessons so that they may do their best to avoid the pitfalls life throws at us from time to time. We can’t be worried about whether it hurts their feelings or if they get mad at us because we didn’t let them go to a party, or buy them the new Nintendo Wii, or newest expensive sneakers we couldn’t afford. It might do them some good to go without some of what “everyone has”.
We have to teach our kids on teh benefits of being a good neighbor. Whether its something small like not riding over the neighbors flower garden, or something bigger like watching over their house to make sure noone is breaking into it. Offering to help out our neighbors in need, whether its lending them some milk for their baby, or seeing if they ned help with yard work or minor repairs if they are elderly, or handicapped in some way.
If we look out for our neighbors, they will tend to look out for us when we need the help. We should be working to make our neighborhoods be, and look to be, a better place than what it was when we moved there. Working together to make sure people’s roofs are fixed when in need of repair, or helping clean out the gutters for them, mowing their lawn, whatever the tasks may be that are needed to make our little place in the world a bit more beautiful, can be a great teaching experience to our kids. We show them compassion through our own actions, and we teach them some skills if they actively help to do this work. And if we involve the kids in some of the work, they are more likely to take appreciation in what they have done, and where they live, and are less likely to do something to damage their hard work. Plus, with certain skill sets, these same kids, when they are of the age to have an actual paying job, have armed themselves with a better chance of getting work at the places of business in their neighborhood. we also need to teach them respect for each other. For when kids hit puberty, guys are a bragging type, and won’t hesistate to disrespect a girl by taking advantage of her nature to give and receive love, just to sleep with her. We won’t tolerate another man disrespecting our mother, but then turn and try to treat a girl like a whore. And the girls, oftentimes in search for the love and acceptance they crave, will disrespect themselves and give in to the first slick talking guy who comes around, and maybe more guys after that, hoping to find someone who really does care.
I have so much more in my heart and mind to say right now, and I don’t even know how to say it all, or how to at least make it sound as though their is any clear direction.
All I know, is that if the poor and minority are going to rise up, and become equal to, or an even more powerful force than their counterparts, the time has come to stop with the words and put forth great efforts. the tiem has come to take individual responsibility, regardless of what others do, instead of waiting for someone else to do it first. If only to gain their rightful place in the world and society, or to more directly show those who don’t believe in them, that they were wrong to underestimate.