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Building the American dream from within

Black-white race relations may improve by way of succeeding generations of Americans but there appears little hope that’ll soon happen dramatically.  The election of Barack Obama gave those who think positively about the prospect for improvements some measure of encouragement. However, events in Washington, D.C. and wider, exampled by the presence of resolute naysayers from the Southern states who deny the president any support, have helped to slide race relations backwards.

Meanwhile, there are conditions of life among blacks in America that could be vastly improved by their own efforts, should they organize around such relevant community objectives.  Reference here is to the fact that blacks earn less money than whites, graduate from college in fewer cases and make up our prison population in disproportionately higher numbers.  They are unemployed at rates over 11 percent, which is twice the national average, and more than twice that of the white population.

It’s recognized that more and more blacks have been able to earn college degrees and improve their prospects but far too many blacks get left behind to lead lives of desperate depravity.  One of the central problems is that in too many black neighborhoods those folks living there are upward-bound deprived and lead economically bankrupt existences. Mainly, their prospects may be most accurately described as slim and none.

Now, then, how could things change for them?  How about getting together in collective efforts and pulling together for the sake of every family and individual in the neighborhood?  Pooling resources, however limited, but large when everyone participates, and investing in their best and brightest by requiring a pledge to return as educated persons to participate back in their home communities as police officers, firefighters, lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers and in other city hall serving capacities would predictably help to pull everyone up by their boot straps and make each life there more viable and livable.

U.S. history demonstrates what every minority group has found to be true, that is, that success and the embrace of the American dream has not been handed to them.  They have found that they must assert themselves through education, training and experience at doing what needs to be done to achieve better circumstances and have had to do it for themselves without any government  intervention.  As it stands now, too many blacks who “make it,” like outstanding athletes, superlative musicians and the Harvard-educated “move on.”

A critical factor in the reformation of the nation’s black neighborhoods is the gang member and the extent to which he is involved in drug dealing, drug addiction and illicit activity in general.  Showing these youth before they enter lives of crime that they can do good work in the neighborhood of their birth is a way that promises attractive change, life change that’s contagious and effective because that kind of change provides accomplishment’s good-feelings through the personal pride and satisfaction generated by community recognition.

A final thought regarding this matter is that we are often admonished by black activists and their white sympathizers to discuss race relations.  However, personal experience points out that whenever a column addresses some aspect of race relations, unless it parallels and represents the prevailing opinion and conventional wisdom of black activists and their white sympathizers, he who ventures there is labeled a racist.  As long as this kind of reaction is what greets whites who write on the subject, progress will never happen.  Meeting on common ground through compromise and the sharing of viable ideas is more likely to make race relations progress than resorting to a dead-end by name-calling.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)