My last three posts have addressed various aspects of racism in the U.S., see here, here, and here. I have been making a case that fundamental change requires going beyond police reform, as valuable as some police reforms might be.
Here is another key point made by Ian Rowe, a black scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He says that “the narrative that white people hold the power conveys a wrong-headed notion of white superiority and creates an illusion of black dependency on white largess.” “The next generation of Americans – black and white – might grow up believing that the entire destiny of one race rests in the hands of another, which must denounce its privilege before any progress can be made.”
Along this line, a 2018 report, “Black Men Making It in America” from the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies, is very informative. Consider:
- Black men’s economic standing. 57% of black men have made it into the middle class or higher as adults today, up from 38% in 1960. The share of black men who are poor has fallen from 41% in 1960 to 18% today.
- The institutional engines of black men’s success. In addition to higher education and full-time work, three other institutions – the military, the black church, and marriage – play significant roles in black men’s success.
- The importance of individual agency. 52% of black men who had a higher sense of agency – feeling like they are determining the course of their own lives – as young men, had made it into the middle class when they reached age 50, compared to 44% of their peers who did not have that sense of agency.
- Contact with the criminal justice system. By midlife, only 28% of black men who had contact with the criminal justice system when they were young have moved into the middle or upper class, compared to 57% of black men who had no contact with the criminal justice system at a younger age.
Conclusion. “There are pathways to power for young black people.” An important goal of K-12 education should be to help black girls and boys cultivate a sense of personal agency and convince them that their well-being is determined more by their own actions than by support from the dominant race.