To Bigotry No Sanction, To Persecution No Assistance
Old Historical Truths are Still Very Relevant to Contemporary Urban Sociology
Teach a man that he needn’t work for his daily bread, and you destroy a life. Teach a child he can forever inherit the previous generation’s entitlement and you destroy an entire generation.
The victory of President Lincoln’s government over the Confederacy in 1865 led to the abolition of slavery throughout the restored union and the dawn of a new age in America with the addition of the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States on December 6, 1865.
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Nearly a century later, following President Kennedy’s assassination in November of 1963, the Johnson Administration-together with a Democrat Party controlled Congress-passed legislation that would forever change the sociology of American society.
The legislative creation of a welfare state focused unprecedented attention on a social chasm so deep and broad in urban Black America that popular as well as educated opinion thought it inescapable. For many it was.
However, just as there had always been free men of color, Benjamin Bannecker, for example, or manumitted slaves, such as Frederick Douglass, so too were there successful African-Americans to whom such considerations did not apply.
By the ‘60(s), as in other cities, a dependent, welfare class had arisen in Chicago. Hardly hidden from view, the physical juxtaposition of Chicago’s luxurious Gold Coast with the “war zone” of Cabrini Green starkly revealed the depth of economic inequality in America.
Its political component worked like this.
The national Democratic Party, together with the “gettin’ out the vote” assistance of local Democrat politicians and their army of underlings, would receive its block of votes in exchange for their assurance that welfare would remain untouched, its refunding guaranteed.
We all know the adage that there are no free lunches. This case was no different. As a matter of fact, it came at an enormous expense-not only measurable in dollars but at an ever increasing rate of taxpayer resentment and worsening race relations.
Welfare has not fared well …
The social consequences of warehousing public welfare recipients in urban architectural catastrophes such as Cabrini Green in Chicago and Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis were staggering.
Malcolm X was right. Black Americans did need more privately-owned enterprises and family businesses, but his path and passion for black economic autonomy and physical separation from white America, although intellectually appealing to many, was doomed because it was built upon hatred, perhaps even justifiable hatred for white America.
Put another way, we have to live our lives true to our own teachings.
“Love thy neighbor as thyself” does not mean to love your neighbor’s spouse instead of your own.
Consequently, in an age when the smart phone has proven as popular among strong arm robbers as folks who choose to buy rather than steal one, the mindset of countless American youth has become what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine.
It is demonstrably shown on the streets of Chicago every hour of every night and day.
Despite its hopelessness and violent criminality to which it gives rise, the welfare state, that conservative critics have opposed for years, continues to receive funding despite its worsening social impact over time.
Teaching our nation’s youth is, in fact, the job of the public schools, but doubt arises all too often whether they are fit for the task.
To begin, let’s look at the quality of our educational leadership.
Do we have honest, courageous principals who care about Johnny and Mary’s education? The mighty dollar talks; in fact, it shouts more loudly than parents who should be shouting their lungs out about local fiduciary mismanagement and corrupt hiring practices by incompetent principals for whom cronyism is part of taking of care of business.
A principal must be a leader who sees beyond the confines of any one classroom and academic department; a visionary who charts future paths and whose leadership provides the bridge over which students cross between the preparatory purpose of school and the quality of student life after graduation.
His vision for the greater good of the school community must be credible, challenging but achievable, and ultimately beneficial.
What about our teachers?
Are they well-educated, working toward graduate degrees and fluent in standard English?
There is no more likely guarantor of student educational failure than for parents to send their children to school lacking proper language skills.
Read about the lives of great American luminaries: Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Dr. George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, W.E.B. Dubois, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Convince me that any one of them would disagree with my assertion that fractured language skills put African American kids at a decisive disadvantage by the time they enter kindergarten.
It’s All About Literacy
Are Johnny’s parents literate? Did a good reader read to Baby Mary when she came home from the hospital? If either one or both of the answers is “no”, a society can expect higher dropout rates, escalating violent gang criminality and big city police departments worn down and out by the relentless continuity of urban crime.
Young Parents, Wake up!
Read to your child. If you can’t read well enough, find someone who can. Illiteracy has borne its ugly fruit by the time kids reach high school. It is your obligation to educate your pre-kindergartners in English language proficiency and general preparedness which includes: toilet training, knowledge of one’s first and last name, address, phone number and parents’ names.
Turn your baby’s room into his/her first classroom. Your child will be miles ahead of those kids whose parents use schools as drop off centers. Much of American education is in its current state of disarray because many young parents never understood the necessity of early childhood education and preparedness.
Charity Begins At Home
When was the last time you heard that?
An old-fashioned moral teaching regrettably no longer as commonplace in the American home today as it once was.
I propose that Americans welcome the eternal tradition of the Ten Commandments (of which “charity begins at home” is a derivative teaching) into their homes and place them atop their mantles as once they were long ago.
Would we not be sneaking God back into our public schools?
Oh please! That should be our worst problem.
We recognize that not all children possess the same intellectual gifts. That reality alone should not deter us from making of this country a place which “to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”*
*Quoted from a letter Moses Seixas, head of the Newport, Rhode Island Jewish community, wrote to President George Washington when the latter visited the city on August 17, 1790.