Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The black culture question

I see that a Slate column by Jamelle Bouie, criticising a recent bit of  conservative commentary by Andrew Sullivan in which he raised the the success of Asian Americans as a way of questioning the "social justice brigade's" take on why Black Americans are not so successful, is interesting and has attracted more than 4,000 comments.

The truth is, it's a topic I don't really know enough about to be confident of a strong opinion.  I mean, on the one hand, yes, sure, it does seem that Asian Americans reap the reward of hard work, close knit families and high emphasis on education; and it sure seems obvious that in a cultural sense, it's a lot better path than the single parenthood and drug and gangster culture that seems to have become such a norm in at least some American inner cities.  On the other hand, I guess self selection of Asian migrants already with a good education is a thing too; and do you remember that D'Souza clip that obnoxious Right wingers loved when he attacked the college student?  (My goodness, I saw even Nassim Taleb twitter linked to it recently - confirming he's a pretty obnoxious blowhard himself.)   Well, that college student raised a perfectly legitimate point - that blacks were facing clear governmental financial discrimination in the post World War 2 period, and shouldn't we expect that would have long on going consequences?  But then to swing around again - how long do you have to keep trying to compensate for the wrongs of the past before you should expect it to be having a clear effect?  And in any event, is our picture of American society really accurate?   After all, it seems its the struggling white Americans with low education who are killing themselves off now.  If the poorly educated rural white folk are getting desperate and depressed over the way the economy is treating them for the last 20 years, do we have much reason to argue that inner city black folk should just pull themselves up and get on with it despite a much, much lengthy history of being at the losing end of economic treatment? 

All a complicated issue, no doubt.

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