Thursday, April 28, 2005

It's All About Culture, Cracker!

You should have read Thomas Sowell's piece yesterday in the Journal. If you haven't, go do it.

One reason to read the piece is that it's an excellent example of writing. Great writing. Very nice. Very scary. I'm so jealous.

But the main reason to read the piece is what he writes. He doesn't attribute the disparity in minority achievement between blacks and other to genetics, racism, or slavery, but culture. That group's culture. But he doesn't limit it to blacks.
Disparities between Southern whites and Northern whites extended across the board from rates of violence to rates of illegitimacy [stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason]. American writers from both the antebellum South and the North commented on the great differences between the white people in the two regions. So did famed French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville.
Then later:

The culture of the people who were called "rednecks" and "crackers" before they ever got on the boats to cross the Atlantic was a culture that produced far lower levels of intellectual and economic achievement, as well as far higher levels of violence and sexual promiscuity. That culture had its own way of talking, not only in the pronunciation of particular words but also in a loud, dramatic style of oratory with vivid imagery, repetitive phrases and repetitive cadences.
This is a very nice way of saying what my very southern grandparents use to say, "a white person can just as easily be a n_____ as a black person." I've never been a big fan of the southern (white) culture I saw as a kid. It was mostly an attitude of - oh, I don't know - petulance(?), I guess. It was almost as if those people thought "I know what's the right thing to do but I'm not doing just to show you I don't have to do what you think I should do." Growing up in this type of family was simply exhausting.

But back to Sowell. Why do black suffer disproportionately more?
While a third of the white population of the U.S. lived within the redneck culture, more than 90% of the black population did. Although that culture eroded away over the generations, it did so at different rates in different places and among different people. It eroded away much faster in Britain than in the U.S. and somewhat faster among Southern whites than among Southern blacks, who had fewer opportunities for education or for the rewards that came with escape from that counterproductive culture.
Here in Northern Kentucky, the Appalachian communities have many of the same problems that black communities everywhere have. Race and racism isn't the cause. Persisting in maintaining a culture that promotes illiteracy, violence, and promiscuity does.

Stay You.
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