A recent Education Department study indicates African-American kids compose about 18 percent of children attending preschool but account for 42 percent of those who are suspended once and nearly half of those suspended more than once. Leonard Pitts, a columnist for the Miami Herald with whom I often agree, prefers to conclude from these stats that nearly 440,000 preschool teachers nationwide are racially prejudiced, accounting for the disparity rather than acknowledge the possibility a higher percentage of black 3- to 5-year-olds may be out of control. We are well aware of the large percentage of dysfunctional families, for whatever reasons, in inner cities. Do they only become dysfunctional when the kids turn 6? Or might the lack of discipline and parental nurturing and motivation also impact preschoolers? Pitts’ diatribe is what so many black leaders and white apologists revert to whenever the topics of higher ratios per population of crime, incarceration, unemployment, single mothers, stillbirths and school disciplinary problems, failing grades and dropouts are raised while excusing individual behavior.
It’s not just tea party politicians and pundits pandering to their constituents for votes or ratings or white televangelists pimping their righteousness for donations. Many black pols, pundits and preachers achieve the same results by claiming racism is at work in any perceived affront. I think of the civil rights era as the third great wave of immigration; just like our immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents, millions of black families struggled for a toehold in a new country, fleeing the poverty, persecution and lack of opportunity of their “homeland.” Like them, they faced huge obstacles and took on menial jobs so the next generation could move up the ladder. Many did. But many others choose to whine, make excuses and sit on their butts. The government has bent over backward for 50 years to make amends for the tragic practices our colonial forebears and founders perpetuated for centuries. Every form of assistance, from affirmative action to rent and food supplements to job training to college aid to preferential contracts for minority businesses, has been provided and has helped raise millions of African-Americans — adding their own determination, ability and sacrifices — into the working, middle and upper classes. Those millions of success stories belie the claims of pervasive racism. For the most part it’s been squeezed out of government and mainstream society. Unfortunately, no one can do much about the knuckle-draggers of either race. This same racist shrillness is at work in rationalizing ubiquitous black welfare. But every cent spent on the scammers is a cent less to help the actual strivers and strugglers who may need a hand-up because of the jobless recovery or their personal circumstances or their poverty-level wages, but are pulling as much of their weight as they can. Liberals chide conservatives for ignoring the facts when discussing climate change or evolution or income inequality. They need to face the fact that far too high a ratio of African-Americans are gaming the system and stop wallowing in their white guilt. Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.