Mentality- It is Becoming Tired!
I am a middle class Black woman. The Black lower socioeconomic class mostly have themselves to blame for remaining impoverished. Many poor Black parents believe that they are powerless in society and inoculate their children with the same victimology philosophy.
Many poor Blacks are against any form of education, especially tertiary education, contending that higher education will not benefit them at all. They have the culture of poverty mentality i.e. any type of long term strategizing for their future is foreign to their ethos. They have the philosophy of living at the moment.
In addition to the fatalistic philosophy, many poor Blacks are passive regarding the education of their children. While the Black affluent classes are participatory regarding the education of their children the Black poor believe that it is not their job to be involved in their children's education, that is solely the teacher's job. This passive attitude of many poor Black parents is one of the reasons why schools in lower income Black neighborhoods are the worst in the nation.
Many poor Black parents teach their children that life is against them. They do not educate their children that they make their own destiny. In other words,, they believe that they are slaves to the fate, masters.
Let us return to the issue of education. Many poor Black children are told that to be educated and achieve is to "act white." The Black inner city culture often emphasize academic underachievement, the thug culture, and the axiom of keeping it real. Even though racism is a given in this culture, I do not believe that this should deter one from bettering himself/herself. However, the Black lower socioeconomic class want others to rescue and elevate them, not realizing that it they who must elevate themselves into the more affluent classes.
It's sad that parents teach their children their own prejudices
Passing down opinions that are not based on reason or actual experience, is so harmful to our children.
Getting an education to "Make It" in this world is the only thing that will
insure our preservation.
But it happens in the white race too.
To Deborah Sexton: This is so true. This issue of underachievement and/or antiachievement, anti-intellectualism, fatalism, and having the culture of poverty mentality does not only apply to Blacks but to all racial and ethnic groups. There was a book on working class and lower class Caucasians in an enclave in Boston which illustrate that these working class and lower class Caucasians exhibited characteristics of underachievement, anti-intellectualism, and fatalism. They believe that they had no voice in the machinations of American society and believe that their neighborhood and class were their only purview and they cannot escape it!
Many working and lower class parents, regardless of race/ethnicity, inoculate their children that life is tough. They teach their children to be realistic and not to dream too big. Many working class and lower class parents believe that higher education is out of the purview of their children, indicating that college and graduate school are not for "regular Joes and Josephinas" like them. They also have a more passive and fatalistic view towards life i.e. life is tough and unkind and one must learn to survive. The main theme in many working and lower class homes is survival, not thriving and being. You have presented an excellent premise.
I think that the lower class feel unaccepted by the higher classes.
They think the good things in ife are for the other people.
They get angry because they feel it will never change. They teach their children their way of thinking so that they won't expect too much and get hurt.
I really don't think they know that if they encourage their children they could rise to higher places. Their parents taught them this and they think it runs in the family or it's the fate of the family, etc.
This is true many working and lower class parents inoculate their children that life is against them from early childhood. They are taught just to accept the crumbs of life and never to aspire to anything higher as it is not within their class consciousness. While many working and lower class children accept this premise, others refuse to do so e.g. Oprah, during an interview sometime ago, related that her grandmother told her to "find some good Caucasian people" to work for. Oprah stated how she was totally nonplussed at the remark and her grandmother repeated it. You see her grandmother was grooming her to be a domestic servant; however, Oprah know that she DID NOT want to be a domestic servant and wanted better things in her life.
Many working and lower class parents have a different mindset regarding education, jobs, and life goals than those of the middle, upper middle, and upper classes. Working and lower class parents believe in living from day to day. They feel that planning, saving, and investing for their children's futures are a total waste of time. Instead of encouraging their children for career, working and lower class parents encourage their children to take any job available. The culture of working and lower class parents is quite different. I shall paraphrase Fitzgerald who stated that the rich are different from you and me. Well, the working and lower classes are quire different from the rest of us!
Oprah made it in life but she also made it as a person......
She is admired by many people, cultures, races..etc.
The thing about Oprah is she sincerely tries to help others make it as she did.
Most wealthy and famous people don't hold a sincerity like hers.
I wonder why she didn't have children.
Not only Oprah. There is a young gentleman named Dr. Farrah Grey, who is the author of Reallionaire. This young man was born in the projects; however, instead of letting his dire socioeconomic status making him a defeatist and fatalistic, he elected to use his circumstances as a springboard to affluence.
Dr. Grey saw that his family was needing so he become an entrepeneur of sorts at a very young age. He sold produts door to door. He wanted to become wealthy in a positive and legal way. So at the age of 14, he achieved his dream. He is now 26 years old and is a mentor and helping young impoverished Black men realize their dreams. Dr. Grey and Ms. Winfrey are stellar examples of impoverished Blacks who refuse to let their prior impoverished circumstances deter them from accomplish their dreams and using their utmost human potential.
When I lived in inner city London I saw a lot of black people from Africa arrive as immigrants. Mostly they were good natured and optimistic when they turned up. After harsh exposure to inner city 'culture' they quickly became cynical and defensive. After that, it was just a question of trying to preserve the good qualities in their kids.
In London at least, it is not so much a racism problem as a class problem, although the things get entangled.
The underclass is the residue of all those families that have floundered at some time or another and never recovered. The bitterness, lack of self respect and respect for others becomes self perpetuating and drags all but the strongest down.
What you have presented is quite a truism. Many lower income people feel powerless and have quite a fatalistic and passive attitude towards life. They believe that they are nothing, mean nothing, and have nothing to contribute towards society. Because they believe that they are powerless, they have a "do nothing" attitude. They often feel that they are at the mercy of the powers that be or in the opinions of the Black lower class, "the man."
Yes, many lower class individuals in the United States have a developed mindset that they possibly cannot contribute anything of worth to society. They furthermore believe that they are mired into their present socioeconomic circumstances. They often do not think long range as they are involved living from day to day. This is what sociologists call the culture of poverty. Poor people only live for immediate gratification, they have no cognizance of delayed gratification for their future good. That concept is a total anathema to many poor people. So many poor people inoculate their children with this fatalistic philosophy and the cycle continues ad infinitum.
This is a very insightful article. As a black woman from the Caribbean (Barbados) I can appreciate what you are saying. Free secondary education was introduced here in 1961 but despite the opportunities some of our young peoplel do not have long range vision. There is still a serious problem with teenage pregnancy. Thankfully most parents here have a high premium on education and encourage their children to access tertiary education. As black woman I have to agree with you that poor people live only for the present. The poverty cycle will continue when parents encourage their children to aim higher. Unless this is done all that will be achieved is a people becoming accustomed to a welfare mentality, expecting the government to do everything for them. I applaud you for the courage to speak out. Many in the black community want to blame everything and everyone except the black people themselves for their povery.
I emphasised to my children the importance of a good education. I encouraged them to be the best they can. Thanks very much for posting.
As I have said before, the Black Caribbean and African communities, no matter how poor, emphasize the importance of education and academic achievement to their children. Black Caribbean and African parents came to this country with the sole purpose of bettering themselves and their children. Many Africans, even though they are poor, are quite entrepeneurial. They work and just do not wait upon the government to rescue them. The same thing applies to the Black Caribbean community. I have seen Black Caribbeans work two jobs just to put food on their tables.
The work ethos of the Black Caribbean and African communities, no matter how poor, is one must work for one's bread and if one wants the good life, one must work for it. In the lower income Black American community, the idea is that they are poor because of race and the hand they were dealt with. Lower income Black Americans believe in doing what they want, no matter how negative, without thought to the consequences of their actions. It is quite amazing to me that many lower income Black women with access to free or low cost contraceptive care, carelessly have children in succession yet they complain why it is that their children are in poverty! Where are their brains-they are the ones who created this situation for their children.
Many lower income Black Americans believe that it is the government's job to provide for and to rescue them. They want the good life but are loathe to make sacrifices for it yet they elect to blame everyone for their impoverished circumstances except for themselves. I remember overhearing a Black American woman stating why should not poor Black women have so many children as they want because the upper classes are doing the same! This was such an illogical statement. In order to succeed and have an affluent life, one must plan and strategize as to the goals he/she wants to achieve.
This is quite a negative and fatalistic philosophy which is inoculated to the next generation. Poor Black American children are not inundated with the importance of education. Instead, they are inundated with the importance of the latest hip-hop star and his/her lifestyle. They are further taught that education is for the middle class and/or Caucasian person, not for them. They are being brainwashed by their parents, relatives, and peers to be 21st century slaves.
On the contrary, Black Caribbean and African parents refuse to let their race deter them from accomplishing high goals. Education and high socioeconomic achievement is of paramount importance in those households. Black Caribbean and African parents, no matter how poor, do not emphasize frivilous activites as they know that such activities will not profit their children neither educationally nor economically. Lower class Black Caribbean and African parents exhort their children to achieve as much academically as they possibly can. In other words, good marks and/or better are praised in lower class Black Caribbean and African homes. These parents emphasize education because they know that one only has a marginal existence at best without it.
Fourteen was almost too late for Dr. Grey. In Detroit, we have fifteen year old gunmen on the streets. Once these kids get into the drug game, either using or selling, it's nearly impossible to get out alive and free. I'm not talking about gangs, either. This is the everyday circumstance people have to live with in Detroit. When kids see that the grownups who make the most money on their block are pushers, they're going to emulate that.
We need more programs or options for kids in dangerous drug-infested neighborhoods. The President should make this his top priority. Kids aren't mature enough to own responsibility for major crimes - it's the saddest thing to see these kids in the paper up before a judge, facing massive sentences. Game over before it begins.
What you have presented is true. Many Black youth in lower income neighborhoods, not only in Detroit but in New York's East New York in the borough of Brooklyn, the South Bronx neighborhoods, some parts of Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and parts of Harlem in New York City. Many of them have a negative attitude towards education and upward mobility the legal way. When you try to inoculate them with the importance of a good education, they retort that higher education is quite useless to them. They further inform you that those who obtain higher education are suckers because the pushers, pimps, and other undesirable types are the millionaires in those neighborhoods hence those "people" are these youths' role models. This is sad indeed!
However.......there is always a however. If these youths are smart, they can go to the library and do some reading and research on Black successful people who came from lower income origins. I believe that there is simply no excuse for lower income Black youths to become attraced to the illegal life. What these youths fail to realize that the life of a pusher, pimp, and/or other undesirable millionaire in those circumstances usually end up either dead or in jail. As we all know jail is not a picnic........however, many of these youths who are after fast cash fail to realize this until it is QUITE TOO LATE.
Ah! Fellow Detroiter! I was just about to comment about that. SO many of the black kids I went to school with in Detroit just didn't care. Their families didn't care...It was awful and so frustrating to me. They get made fun of by other black kids for trying to get ahead and I found that irritating to- it was like they were jealous that one of them was breaking free and going on to do great things.
What can we do to break this destructive mold?
To Shanna11: Lower class Black people must get rid of the victim mentality and realize that no one owes them a living nor is going to rescue them. They must become proactive in their lives.
Yes, there is a lot of pathology in the lower class Black community. First of all, the cult of poverty and hand outs is not glorious. They have to develop a love of education because the better educated one is, the more likely he/she will obtain middle class status. They must become more active in teaching their children and participate in their school's parent-teacher conferences.
They must teach their children to have careers, not jobs. They also must establish examples of achievement themselves. If they are in a dead end job, instead of complaining and blaming their predictament on "the man", obtain further education and improve their job situation. They should not be content in a piece meal job. They should obtain the best possible job in their category and work their way up from there.
Regarding their children's education and achievement-they should purchase books and read to their children. Books are easily affordable as there are tons of discount stores available. Being poor is no excuse whatsoever for being ignorant and fatalistic. My advice to lower class Blacks, leave the "woe is me" mentality behind and do for self.
Wow, I live this life every day. I am a white teacher in an urban school district. I get zero respect from about 25/31 students. Play and fun is far more important to my students than learning. Phone calls home, turtoring, honest grades, conversations, nothing seems to work and it is exhausting and very sad to see. There appears to me to be NO value in education with these particular students.
I even had a parent call me a B#%$^ in front of my students recently because "I gave her honor roll son all Es on his report card." She failed to realize that she did not bring him to school 23/45 days that card marking and turned in 0 make up work. It is very frustrating when you have high expectations but it is followed up with nothing but excuses and resistence. Thank you for your candidness gmwilliams.
Dr. Ben Carson is another example of a success story btw.
My friend, yes many teachers experience the same plight in lower income urban schools. Many students in those schools are quite apathetic towards education and academic achievement. My mother was a nurse at Sydenham Hospital in Harlem, New York City. She related how many lower income students are not proficient in reading and spelling. Of course, their parents never taught them. Guess what? My mother spend much of her lunch hours teaching students the rudiments of reading and spelling-something their mothers should have done.
What you have described is quite a rruism. Any teacher who elect to teach in such urban schools, I highly commend. He/she has an uphill battle to teach students who are not open to learning. These students believe that being intelligent and smart is uncool. Many lower income Black students believe that it is cool to be ignorant and a thug. This is negativity to the milnillionth degree. Teachers can only do so much to educate the lower income Black child in the classroom. The parents must also participate but alas they do not but somehow they either expect miracles or they just do not care!
Dr Carson spoke at my university a few weeks ago! He was absolutely amazing and inspiring, and I was actually thinking of him when I wrote that response. He has got to be one my favorite speakers/writers.
Ultimately, integration. You know about the so-called dividing line at Eight Mile. Granted, places like Hazel Park and Warren have struggling white neighborhoods. But they sure don't have a lack of police or secure schooling, do they?
Detroit needs to become an integrated city where anyone can work anywhere. There aren't many buses running far into the suburbs these days.
There's a complete lack of hope for many young Detroiters. They get to age ten and they're like, "Oh, I see. I can be poor and never get out of this neighborhood, or I can do what the twenty year old drug hustler on my block driving a Cadillac is doing."
If there were more employment opportunities and more programs that provided college aid, there'd me more success stories. But the root cause of this problem among youths in Detroit is isolation in a poor city with a very limited budget.
I completely agree with you with the lack of hope. And although the school systems in Warren and Hazel Park are "safe" from violence for the most part, they are NOT secure in their educational success. In fact one of Hazel Park's elementary schools is rated in the bottom 6 performing schools in Michigan.
When it comes to education, the rich districts get richer and the poor districts get poorer. It is still separate and NOT equal.
That kind of stuff makes me so mad. It's the adult's fault for allowing their drug activity to be done in front of children.
I live in a municipal outside a Big city. We're in the same county. There is an area that if you drive through it, the small children (7-10) are carrying marijuana in small bags and other bags with crack. They'll flag you down and ask what you need.
It's a job their parents have them do. The kids assume if you drive through their neighborhood that you must want drugs.
Sadly their parents have created the children's future.
What's most shocking to me is that the law punishes them as adults instead of realizing that's the only life they've known. They don't try to help them. They just lock away what they see as the undesirables, and they actually get a good nights sleep
Yeah, and then they become institutionalized. Who knows how many bright minds are locked away for decades for something they did when they were fifteen or sixteen. They'll likely never become a part of society, all because of an environment they had no control over.
There are factors concerning parents. Many poor kids from Detroit have one parent. Some are raised by grandparents or other relatives.
Once they're old enough to leave your street all bets are off. Imagine living somewhere where there's these kinds of options for your kids? Parents from the suburbs know it was hard enough to raise kids there. I can't place all the blame on the parents, a rather hopeless environment exists for many of these young kids whether a parent is on the case or not.
As a child, I exhibited early signs of academic adroitness. But being the offspring of lower class blacks was stifling, to say the least. My parents never even looked at my report cards whenever I brought them home. Once, my second grade teacher was so impressed with my performance that she paid my parents a visit, and asked them to have me entered into an advanced program. My father, pretended to be interested, but never spoke of it again after the teacher left. And neither my mother nor father ever gave me any praise, whatsoever, for having such a talent.
There was no value at all placed on education. The premium was placed upon how well one could do menial, mindless work.
But my parents were very active in the church. This is confusing to me, as the black church has always appeared to be at the forefront of black achievement. Just what good are all of these black churches if they can't teach any REAL values?
The only values that my parents taught me was that I was doomed to a life not even worth living.
Despite my parents, I made it through the Marine Corps, I graduated(with honors) from college, I became an author, and many other accomplishments too numerous to list here.
There is no one to blame for this stupidity but the black parent. They can scapegoat anyone they choose, but the only people I witnessed in the act of depriving my siblings and me of our rightful place in society were my black parents.
To getitrite: What you are saying is so true about lower income Black families. Many lower income Black parents are so embittered about their socioeconomic status, they believe that they are in the ninth circle of Hell and inoculate their children in their philosophy. Many lower class Black children are so inoculated with this negative and defeatist philosophy that all but the most resolute become quite fatalistic early in life.
Dr. William Cosby a/k/a Bill Cosby put this situtation so succinctly. Dr. Cosby maintained that many lower income Black parents do not place a premium value on education and intellectual attainment. Dr. Cosby further stated that these parents place their immediate pleasures over long-term goals and planning for their and their children's futures. The late Chancellor Williams also maintained that many Blacks because of the conditions of enslavement, servitude, and impoverishment into their subconscious. Many lower income Blacks have this meme of nothingness and the poverty consciousness. They believe that they cannot do any better because the odds are against them. Thus they teach their children not to try because it will be futile in the end. This is what your parents were trying to teach you.
Many lower income Black parents view education as an utter waste of time and energy. To reiterate, the average lower income Black parents believe that education should be rudimentary at best to say the least. That is, the main purpose of education is to keep one literate enough to get a job, not to have a thriving life. Many lower income Black parents are indifferent to their children's educational attainment. In fact, many of them believe that it is the TEACHER'S job to educate and teach their children, not THEM.
Many lower income Black children are in a quite precarious situation. In many lower income Black homes, there is little or no educational paraphernalia and tools. Black children in such homes have no intellectual stimulation which explains why many of them are low academic achievers. Yes, there are exceptions such as you and many other smart lower income Black children who refuse to let their impoverishment prevent and/or deter them from using their utmost human potential.
Many Black parents, especially lower income ones, inundate their children with the race card. They inform their children not to expect much in life and even expect to succeed socioeconomically because "you are Black." They use the word "Black" as a deterrent to their children, instead of encouraging them that anything is possible if one is diligent towards his/her goals.
That is what eventually happened to me in high school. Since all of my closest friends lives, were somewhat similar to mine, it was easy for me to adopt the fatalistic lifestyle. Many of my friends could not even read even though we were in high school. I saw nothing wrong with this, as there was no value placed upon education...which started at home. In fact, sometimes the most uneducated of all of us was the "leader"...a badge he wore with absolutely no shame.
My parents did, however, have a long term goal for me and my many siblings. And that long term goal was to be a slave forever.
Exactly. And although some black people are not capable of attaining anything in life, why should they attempt to bring the entire community down to their level?
Yes, I had the parents at home with this view, and the peers at school with the same view. My plight was hopeless.
Although my father had some books in the house, and purchased a daily newspaper, he never once read to any of us as children, and NEVER EVER put any value on education.
Yes indeed, but still we are left with the bitter anger...the anger at our own community...a community that was willing to sacrifice me and all my potential...and for what?
Thereby encouraging no progress, now and forever.
I'm not trying to disagree with you but this is the experience of plenty of white kids too. And the experience of many kids of all kinds around the world.
My father left school in the UK when he was 14 and went into a factory. He worked with his hands and earned good money for it. We were not poor. School was nominally respected in my family but nobody expected anyone to do well and go to college. The fact that I did (paid for by the state in its entirety in those days)makes me a real outsider, even now.
As much as I would like to agree, I can't for the simple fact that you isolated one segment of a population and basically said this is the single cause of this multifaceted problem. I think a whole series of people, not only the parents, to increase the speed with which the problem is currently being dealt with. I say this because you are talking about changing the behaviors of a whole group of people not just a single individual (which still could take some time).
While, for myself, the candid language might be a little much, I can understand the points that you are making.
If you populated Detroit with 95% white people the results would be the same given the environment. I feel what you're saying, but I think most of us have been chomping at the bit to give our thoughts on this epidemic.
Edit: Ignore my constant references to Detroit as it doesn't align with the OP, but it's the only big city I know intimately.
I want to interject that the wealthier school districts have better educational materials because parents in wealthier districts are more participatory and proactive regarding their children's educational process than parents in poor districts. When parents participate in their children's educational process, teachers and administrators usually listen and know that they must always be on the alert so to speak. Since wealthier parents participate in their children's schooling, teachers respect them, taking the parents' concerns seriously.
In poor school districts, parents, seldom if ever, participate in their children's educational process. The passivity and nonparticipation on the part of poor parents' cause teachers and administrators to believe that they are totally unconcerned and indifferent to their children's educational process. In turn, administrators did not provide the needed educational materials in poor school districts. They believe that since these parents are unconcerned about their children, why should they be?
I understand your point however that is not completely true in Michigan. While I agree with you that administrators are more likely to listen to parents who are involved, there is a definite funding issue. There is a set amount of money that is provided to schools in Michigan. Beyond that, property taxes are also part of the funding of schools. If you are attending a school that is in a poor area where the property taxes are lower, then you will not receive as large of an amount in comparison to the wealthier neighborhoods. In addition to that, there are often fundraisers to help to pay for playground equipment, new technology, etc. If your families cannot afford to participate in the fundraisers then you will not be able to attain cutting edge equipment for your school. Many schools in wealthy districts hold fundraisers and parents don't blink in eye in participating in them, it is just a given for them not a choice between that and paying their electric bill.
Perhaps they should consider that many of these parents from poor neighborhoods went through the same cycle their kids are going through now.
This is next generation stuff and we need to end the cycle. Or will we let another generation get on the streets and end up in prison, all because of where they're from? Doesn't this country have the resources to make all the "where they're from"s safe from the drug trade? Or at least most? How come most people from big city neighborhoods will tell you it's the opposite?
To piggy back on @cardelean 's point my mom worked 2 to 3 jobs throughout my whole childhood, for about a year or so she worked 5 jobs at one time. My mom tried to be involved in my schooling as much as she could, but as my teachers, principle, and even I understood that she couldn't in order to pay the bills. Granted not every case is like this, but there are cases similar to mine out there and these are the parents that you are also criticizing.
So while you make a valid point by comparing wealthy and poor neighborhoods. I know that at least in my case it is like @cardelean said " Many schools in wealthy districts hold fundraisers and parents don't blink in eye in participating in them, it is just a given for them not a choice between that and paying their electric bill."
I shall give an example of poor parents who were involved in their children's education. The situation occurred in Depression era South Carolina to be exact. A distant relative attended school in an impoverished district. It was the rule that schools in the poorer, especially Black districts, should be in operation only FOUR months a year while schools in the wealthier, especially Caucasian districts, were open for the entire school year.
Well, her father went around the neighborhood, collecting monies and did some type of fundraising. Guess what? The schools in my distant relative's impoverished district were now operating for the entire school year and in addition to that, new educational materials were obtained for the school. Yes, her father. who was an impoverished sharecropper did it-so it is absolutely NO excuse that poor parents of today cannot do the same! The excuses offered regarding this is so moot to say the least. The fact of the matter is that many lower income Black parents are just UNCONCERNED and INDIFFERENT to their children's education pure and simple!
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