Parts I – VI[i] of this series described mostly well-intended policies that harmed Blacks and produced valid grievances. Let’s now sort out perhaps the single most debilitating and confounding consequence of the serial failures of multiple attempts to address problems unique to Blacks in America. Before the War on Poverty, Blacks were making great strides legally, politically, socially, and economically (closing the income gap with Whites[ii]). A primary reason for that progress was that Blacks had vastly higher hopes then than now.[iii] Let’s sort out how the combination of serial broken policy promises and accompanying messaging has made addressing Black problems so hard to alleviate.
Humans are “loss averse.”[iv] Loss aversion causes the sadness from a broken promise to be more impactful than the happiness and hopes the promise induced. Hope is essential to setting and achieving goals, e.g., escaping generational poverty. Dashed hopes also increase pessimism. Pessimism saps motivation to pursue goals, and it takes “a toll on [people’s] mental health, their physical health may take a beating, too. While it may be useful in isolation or moderation, pessimism is associated with anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, hostility, high blood pressure, and heart disease”[v] — thereby physically reducing one’s ability to pursue goals.
The serial dashing of Black hopes and happiness created tragic results in inner-city communities. Without hope that progress is possible, many Blacks to believe that education is for suckers.[vi] (Fortunately, there are extraordinary exceptions, but the norm is clear.) Sadly, that hopelessness is not baseless.[vii] Far too many inner-city kids do not desire to learn, and the schools available to them are not conducive to learning.
Black leaders know how debilitating those beliefs are.[viii] Sadly, most Black leaders try to address problems by doubling down on the policies that cause debilitating thoughts. Perhaps the most momentous dashed hope suffered by Blacks was President Obama’s failure to deliver on his promises to Blacks.[ix] So, the cycle continues and convincing inner-city Black students to work hard at school becomes progressively harder.
Part of “What’s Going On” is that Americans are reaping the whirlwind of decades of dashed dreams produced by flawed analyses, terrible messaging, and repeated doubling down on policies that dashed dreams.[x] Describing what is awful about the messaging reveals why doubling down will make matters worse.
Continually reminding Blacks that the deck is stacked against them is demotivating. Directing attention to racism rather than what stacked the deck keeps Blacks ill-informed and supporting policies that hurt them. That messaging also creates a worse problem.
Consider the following messages:
- Nice people, who wished nothing but the best for Blacks, built structures that unintentionally disadvantaged Blacks. Those people now want to fix those structures; or
- Anti-Black racists built structures that intentionally disadvantage Blacks. As long as those racists are around, a democratic process will not fix the problems.
Despite Message A being closer to the truth,[xi] Blacks hear messages similar to the false and hope-killing Message B.
Let’s expand on how Message B. hurts Blacks:
- Students hearing Message A. will likely believe the people who built the structures will fix them. Students hearing Message B. are more likely to think that the structures will remain — absent major change. Many believe that justice requires burning down the structures. (Sound familiar?[xii])
- Message B. causes many Blacks to feel education is for suckers. Peer pressure not to “act white” is high and often violent.[xiii] Kids who do not want to learn won’t. No amount of money poured into schools can make kids willing to be a bullying victim.[xiv]
- Thankfully, there are paths out of generational poverty for highly talented Blacks without a good education and a typical black person. About half of Black American households are in the middle to upper classes.[xv] The other half, however, need an education to succeed anywhere in the modern world.
- Jobs that do not require an education, e.g., robbery, theft, drug trafficking, pimping, prostitution, are dangerous, unhealthy, and high-stress paths to dead-ends, prison, or death. Maintaining a wholesome family life or gaining the dignity[xvi] of providing income and security for one’s family with a dead-end job is unlikely. As if that were not bad enough, being unhealthy causes Blacks to be more susceptible to diseases, e.g., COVID-19.
- Convincing Blacks that racism is causing their problems ignites outrage based on falsehoods[xvii] (e.g., a Black cop killing a Black man = racism). Baseless anger and falsely blaming others helps no one and prevents focus on what would help.
Everyone has troubles and blessings. No matter one’s grievances/blessings ratio, one can choose to count blessings or woes. Counting one’s blessings is essential to living a good life.[xviii] It’s no wonder that counting one’s blessings is emphasized in at least five of the six primary religions. Consequently, urging Blacks to focus on the things stacked against them typically dooms them to unhappiness, perpetual grievances, and misbehavior. Misbehavior spawns even more troubles.[xix]
“Systemic Racism Is Holding Blacks Back”
The messaging that “systemic racism” holds Blacks back has the same flaws as “Racism Stacks the Deck Against Blacks,” and more:
Disproportion Does Not Equal Racism. Some non-racist[xx] government “structures” heavily subsidize things Whites care more about, e.g., ballet, symphony, and opera, and lightly subsidize art forms of other cultures. Unlike the unconstitutional laws of seventy years ago, anti-Black preferential structures are virtually non-existent today.[xxi] (Those remaining should go.) Conversely, many more pro-Black “structures” exist today.[xxii]
Evidence that structural racism is insignificant is that the ACLU and others have been suing and eliminating racist laws and practices for over seventy years. Courts have struck down consistently struck down structural racism. If BLM or anyone else could list anti-Black structures, the list would be used for political purposes. Those lists do not exist.
Nevertheless, in terms of wealth, income, and other metrics under existing structures, Whites and Asians fare far better than Blacks.[xxiii] While lingering effects of past racist systems remain, contrary to what many leftists would have us believe, those disproportional effects are hardly evidence of racism now. [Sorting out all the problems created by conflating the effects of past racism with imagined racism today is critical but beyond the scope of this post.]
As an example, consider infrastructure. Roads are structures essential to the economy. Whites might disproportionately use or generate income from roads. But everyone is free to use them as much as they like — despite Whites paying disproportionately more of the taxes that fund their construction and maintenance.
Everything would be more expensive without maintained roads — which would disproportionately hurt poor people (and Whites are not disproportionately poor). Ambulances use roads to rush people of all colors to hospitals, and roads are required to stock stores patronized by everyone. Infrastructure cannot be legitimately be characterized as a “racist structure.” Yet Blacks hear otherwise and are understandably inflamed.
Illusory Enemy. Political strategists in countries that despise racism know that characterizing a project as a fight against racism helps the cause. In those countries, however, finding significant racism is nearly impossible.[xxiv]
So, strategists attempt to redefine[xxv] “racism” so that actual racism is optional. Disproportion will do.[xxvi] For a growing number of people, the resulting definition is functionally equivalent to “anything that non-Whites believe doesn’t help them.” Things Blacks believe don’t help them are not just bad; they are evil. This strategy instills unjustified and counterproductive outrage among Blacks. Worse, it stretches “racism” to include things mildly bad or even benign.[xxvii] “Racist” becomes so ambiguous that it is nearly meaningless.[xxviii] To be socially useful, being called a racist must sting when it hits the mark. Being called a racist when the target merely believes that a BLM proposal will hurt Blacks has no sting. If the target’s analysis is correct, being a “racist” could be a badge of bravery and honor. Taking the sting out of being called a “racist” harms Blacks.
To encourage Blacks to add imaginary troubles to their counts of woes is perhaps the saddest of the left’s messaging.
If the BLM’s goals were to alleviate legitimate Black grievances, it would live up to its name. Let’s sort out what BLM is up to in the next post in this series.
[i] What’s Going On? – Part I The Mess, What’s Going On? – Part II Black Lives Do Matter, Problems Aplenty, What’s Going On? – Part III Black Lives Do Matter, The “Do-Gooders’” Slate, What’s Going On? – Part IV Black Lives Do Matter, Do-Gooders’ War On Poverty, What’s Going On? – Part V Black Lives Do Matter, Unfair Discriminatory Structures, and What’s Going On? – Part VI Black Lives Do Matter, The Stereotyping Problem
[x][x] Wealth, Poverty, and Politics @ 23:07 “Those who have promoted the prevailling social vision, in which lags, gaps or disparities to the deteriment of black people are the fault of white people are trapped in the corrollary that these lags, gaps or disparities should disapear, once those other people are constrtined by civil rights laws and policies. But nothing of the sort has happened.”
[xi] What’s Holding Blacks Back? “[False claim:] Most black people are poor (and middle-class blacks are statistical noise). Almost half of the blacks surveyed in a Gallup poll supposed that three out of four black people live in inner cities. Yet in 2001 most black people are neither poor nor even close to it: by any estimation, middle-class blacks outnumber poor ones. And at last count, only one in five blacks lived in the inner city.
[xiv] AN ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF ‘ACTING WHITE’ “Gaining a better understanding of peer e§ects which contribute to black underachievement is of paramount importance in forming public policy and the subject of this paper… Individuals exposed to these social interactions have disincentives to invest in particular behaviors (i.e. education, ballet, proper speech) due to the fact that they may be rejected by their social peer group.”
In America; A Nation of Nitwits “Some African-American students, unable to extricate themselves from the quicksand of self-defeat, have adopted the incredibly stupid tactic of harassing fellow blacks who have the temerity to take their studies seriously. According to the poisonous logic of the harassers, any attempt at acquiring knowledge is a form of “acting white,” and that, of course, is to be shunned at all costs.”
[xvii] What’s Going On? – Part VI Black Lives Do Matter, The Stereotyping Problem, What’s Going On? – Part V Black Lives Do Matter, Unfair Discriminatory Structures, and 7 Statistics That Show That ‘Systemic Racism’ Doesn’t Exist In Policing:
[xix] African Americans cited for resisting arrest at high rate in S.F. “African Americans in San Francisco are cited for resisting arrest at a rate eight times greater than whites even when serious crimes are not involved, according to statistics drawn from court records.”
[xxii] See endnote i.
[xxiv] From the Left: Bret and Heather 47th DarkHorse Podcast Livestream: Butler Did It @56:30 and from the Right: Ben Shapiro DEBUNKS Viral ‘Systemic Racism Explained’ Video
[xxv] ‘Racism has been redefined’ Bret Weinstein on woke science & how humans succeed – BQ #31, The problem with the left’s attempts to redefine racism, and Stop redefining racism: “Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not.”
[xxvii] Wanting to secure the border is labeled “racist.” Most unauthorized crossings are by low-skilled workers who flood that labor market, which drives down the job opportunities and pay the labor market in which low-skilled Blacks compete. See endnote xx and DEAR LIBERALS: NO, THERE’S NOTHING RACIST ABOUT SECURING BORDERS…