Nextset is the screen name of a frequent commenter on the
Nextset: I will admit that I agree with a few of the things you have said over time. I am interested in the history of
I have learned that a few Blacks (some free, some enslaved) came to the Bay Area for the Gold Rush and in the years that followed. After the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, more Blacks settled in
Henry J. Kaiser needed laborers for his shipyards so he recruited many of them from
When WW II was over, ships were no longer needed so the shipyards began to close down. Like most big American cities,
From what you have written, your “…parents, grandparents and great grandparents were educators going back into the 19th century.” In fact, your relatives “…were among the 1st black teachers in the
Undoubtedly, those many generational and familial assets contributed to your success. How might that contrast with the experiences of the descendants of African Americans who arrived in the Bay Area later than yours, who were poor and uneducated and had few assets, or none at all? Are you saying that their current predicament is simply because of their low IQ’s?
A 14-year-old boy today may have had intelligent and hard-working great-grandparents (b. circa 1919) who moved to
That son would have been 18 years old in 1987 at the height of the Crack Epidemic which lasted from about 1984 to 1990. Having experienced weak mentoring from his father and with few prospects for legitimate employment in sight, we can speculate how that young man may have been tempted to make money, or to feel better for a time. And when he was 25 years old, he may have produced a son of his own – thus the existence of the 14 year old boy of today.
So, by the time the great-grandson of a couple from
This situation is why a "street" culture developed and has taken hold. It is also why the Underground Economy, simply an alternative system of producing income, thrives so vigorously in these neighborhoods. Guns are just a tool of the trade for the men who work in this non-mainstream economy.
It took about four decades of societal neglect for life skills that have been traditionally transmitted by fathers to sons — about being a steady mate and a good provider — to float away from these family groups. Those vestiges of a bygone era that were perpetuated for many generations are now nearly absent from the bodies of knowledge held by families today.
As for the traditional family unit, the short term effect of long-term unemployment on a marriage is always intense stress for the family. Eventually, the idea of marriage would be rendered completely irrelevant for a social group experiencing multi-generational unemployment. Isn't this exactly what has happened?
Despite their dabbling in the Underground Economy, I would also imagine that today's men who have little knowledge about how to go about being productive members of mainstream society may feel a level of despair and lack of purpose that contributes to substance abuse, pathological levels of anger, carelessness about life, etc. These feelings provide nourishment to the “street” culture.
During the ten years of the Great Depression, unemployment climbed from 3.2% at the beginning of 1930 to 24.9% in 1933. It only took four years for our nation to muster the political will to create the Public Works Administration and other programs. What would have happened to mainstream American society if high, widespread unemployment had been sustained for over fifty years?
According to a 2006 New York Times article, “The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.”*
With one subgroup suffering from such high levels of unemployment for decades, and with such incredibly disastrous social consequences affecting us all, why has there been such meager Federal response? And how realistic is it to now expect our public schools to bear the burden of rectifying the effects of such immense damage to this current generation?
*Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn, Erik Eckholm,