Saturday, April 9, 2011

Whites and Blacks Must Face Unpleasant Truths

A recent statement in a local publication by demographer Kurt Metzger that white flight from Macomb County school districts is “institutional racism” was way off base, and the Macomb County Democratic Black Caucus believes blaming whites for seeking better educational opportunities for their children stereotypes them similarly to how black families are when looking out for the future of their own kids, too.

White families are leaving these school districts because they have become unsafe. There, I, an unashamed advocate for the enfranchisement of people of color, have said it. Quite simply, our advocacy does not include turning a blind eye to anti-social behavior by anyone, black or white.  After all, aren’t better schools and safe communities the same reasons Black families give when explaining why they enroll their children in those very same districts?

White parents should not pull their children from a school district at the first sight of black students.  Blacks leaving Detroit and other local school systems to send their children to “better” and “safer” schools should not allow their children to exhibit a temperament that contributes to the creation of low-achieving rowdy schools and disruptive neighborhoods. To tell the cold, hard truth, these are parental issues that should be first addressed in the home.

The MCDBC’s passion for equal opportunity is matched by its fervent belief that there is an equal responsibility of those seeking the equality to conduct themselves in a civil, responsible, and socially productive fashion.  In that context, that responsibility is extended to the institutions those affected by these issues flock to.

Several years ago, while president of the Mount Clemens Community School Board, I convened a meeting between black pastors, school district superintendents, and the Macomb County Sheriff’s department to discuss what strategies the churches could develop to reduce student rowdiness by reaching out to parents in their congregations. Only a few pastors showed up. This was surely a “heads-in-the sands” response. After
all, with knowledge comes responsibility.

There are things the black community does not like to talk about publicly, which is why Bill Cosby took a whipping when he called for an internal conversation about an abdication of parental and community responsibility for an epidemic of negative behavior and outcomes.

It is as if we don’t want to talk about how crime increased at the same time our migration increased.  We don’t want to take ownership of the relationship between cause and effect relative to the lack of parental involvement in our children’s educational experience and the resultant lowered educational outcomes for our children.  Heaven help us if we talk about not being political indentured servants to political parties that take us off that dusty shelf every two or four years while seducing us with the opiate of dependence on the government. And watch out if we dare to mutter that the number one killer of African-Americans is not hate crime, black-on black crime, cancer, or AIDS, (the number one killer of African-Americans in America is abortion).  These are topics we run from; again, with knowledge comes responsibility.

We have yet to read a Facebook post where a white person has stopped black renters or home owners from maintaining their property.  You know you would have seen it on CNN if a white person in a sheet stood in the way of black children trying to get to school.  You Tube has no videos of any bigots stopping black children with books from opening them to study.  We don’t need to be “tweeted” for our hearts to twitter nervously at the thought that a minority within a minority is making it hard on the rest of us. Remember, “Yes We Can!” was supposed to officially replace “Not In My Back Yard.”

There are a great many remaining issues to be addressed when it comes to creating a level playing field.  However, it becomes difficult for anyone to navigate a field littered with bstacles created by what others point to as an ethnic temperament that reflects a lack of self control and ownership of their own responsibilities.  “We” need to “man up” by squarely facing a growing epidemic within certain Macomb County communities, where the truth should fall where it will, hopefully evoking action instead of lame kumbaya rhetoric.

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