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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

There Is A Black Middle Class

I earlier mentioned Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.  Here is a copy of the talk he gave on Sunday from the Pulpit of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, in West Philly.

My oldest son and I were talking about the issue of race and culture the other day and we agreed that there were the WASPs and WASP like and then the rest of the people.  Not WASP as in going to a Protestant Church or being White or Anglo Saxon (are not Anglo Saxons, those folks from that part of Germany and Denmark, by definition "White"?). When I think of WASP I think of those traits Mayor Nutter laid down in his talk at Mount Carmel on Sunday.  It is like that fantasy movie Cowboys and Aliens.  It is all of us against some evil "other".  That evil "other" could be space aliens or it could be those who think that life is a contest to see who is the bigger bully.

And, to further make the point that it is not about race, but culture, look across the pond to England, where it is White Anglo Saxons who are acting like hooligans.  It is, as Prime Minister David Cameron says, culture.  Watch How Green Was My Valley to see another approach.

Here is Mayor Nutter talking about what he learned from his parents as a teenager:
And you know, I know a lot has happened in the 40 years since I was an early teen.  I know that some things have changed.  But now there are a few things that don’t — or shouldn’t — change.  Respect other people.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Don’t touch what doesn’t belong to you, or what you didn’t earn.
On City Life on Monday I was asked who I would favor in a Democratic Party primary against President Obama.  Today I know it would be Mayor Michael Nutter.

Regards  —  Cliff


kad barma said...

I've been reflecting lately on how "respect other people, keep your hands to yourself, and don't touch what doesn't belong to you or what you didn't earn" must sound to someone without means or prospects. It's reasonable for "haves" to insist upon these principles as ticket to entry into their civilization, but it's not always easy for those dispossessed and hopeless to find the motivation to come up with the currency. It's easier to riot. And, hence, we have today London, Philadelphia and San Francisco at the same time as we have Cairo, Douma and Benghazi, and we prefer to see the former three as bad behavior, and the latter three as cultural revolution, while the truth is likely a bit closer to the middle than we're comfortable to consider.

Throughout history, those on the outside are compelled to violence, and those on the inside prefer to insist upon law and order. Until there is justice, there can be no peace, and we're naive to think it can all be solved through lectures.

C R Krieger said...

I didn't mean to leave Kad hanging, but it has been a busy day.

I see this as a chicken and egg kind of issue.  What comes first?  Or is it some sort of a mutual growth?

If we house and feed people, will they develop those "middle class" values that will allow them to then succeed?

If we provide them with the discipline and life skills that approximate middle class values, will that provide people what they need to succeed?

I claim to not have the answer, but to be less than impressed with the impact of the "projects".  In fact, I think that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan nailed it when he said that we were destroying Black families.  However, in the US we have a mix of poverty and racism that confuses and confounds the problem.  One of the reasons I supported Shirley Chisholm in 1972 was that she seemed to see beyond race to the basic issues of poverty.

At the end of the day I think culture counts.  The reason Paris Hilton can be a scamp and get away with it is she was brought up well.  She got a certain amount of that self-discipline that pulls you through.  Amy Winehouse maybe not, but then again, her parents were employed, but they split when she was nine.  Number one indicator of success—are your natural parents still married.  My two younger brothers beat the odds, as my parents divorced when I was 23 and they were both much younger.  They have both done well in life, although the older one took a third shot at marriage to make it work.

Regards  —  Cliff