The PewReseachCenter released a wild new report last week concerning the Growing Values Gap in the Black Community that suggests a shedding of shared community values that is leading to a splintering of traditional Black interests in the USA.
You may have already heard about the disconnect between Whites and Blacks when it comes to Blacks being better off now than they were five years ago:


As well, you may know the details on the perceptions of Blacks and Whites on the matter of values in the Black community:

Many who study life in the urban core were alarmed to see a cracking in
the Black community between belonging and identification as a “single,
unified, Race:”

We have previously wondered on the Racial bias in the prison system and on Death Row and the PewResearch study confirms our earlier arguments:

Black Americans are over-represented in virtually every
aspect of the criminal justice system. In 2005 blacks were about twice
as likely as whites to be a victim of a crime. They also are
disproportionately likely to be arrested, accounting for 28 percent of
juvenile and adult arrests for offenses reported to the FBI (based in
2006 data).

Black men constitute a disproportionate share of inmates:
As of June 30, 2006, an estimated 4.8% of black men were in prison or
jail, compared with 1.9% of Hispanic men and .7% of white men. Black
also make up a disproportionate share of convicts who have been
executed in the United States since 1977.

There are, however, even more interesting and telling tolls in the
study that are not as widely reported, but that deserve deeper
discussion and discourse here.

The gap in the perception of Black
discrimination between Whites and Blacks is curious:

Hi-Hop and Rap received across-the-realm low grades as bad influences on society:

When
asked if Obama’s Race would help or hurt him in a general election,
Blacks were, surprisingly, the most negative with 39% claiming Obama’s
skin color would, in fact, harm his run for president:

What
does that final revelation concerning Obama suggest?

Do Blacks see the world as refusing to elect a Black man with political
power?

Or are they falling prey to their own self-doubt in society and
reflecting that inferiority in their public behavior?

What lessons and trends should we take away from this research to
declare our future together as a nation that is splintering apart —
not only intra-racially, but extra-humanly as well — into
micro-interests instead of broad coalitions of communally shared needs?

17 Comments

  1. David: Thanks, so I thought. Scott Malcolmson’s fascinating if somewhat disturbing book is also titled “One drop of blood”. I am sure you have come across it but it kind of makes a similar point as you make here.
    But what about the drop of white blood?
    Essentially what _is_ this about? Can one only have pride if one is not white because it is all too easy to label white people ‘supremacists’ if they express any pride?
    What a crap world we live in!

  2. Hi Shefaly —
    I have several books here that start with “One Drop Of Blood” so I’ll have to see if Scott’s is one of them. 😀
    The drop of White blood is — the argument goes — darkened irrevocably by the Black blood even if the Black blood is less than the White.
    White Blood requires “purity of Race” to stake a true Caucasian claim in the USA — even though there isn’t such a thing — with most-favored nation status given to two White Parents of traceable European descent who have a child.
    The Jews also embed the idea of “purity of race” as well — so “keeping your genes clean” crosses several cultural and religious memes as evidence of belonging and ostracism based — purists claim — on scientific fact and not emotion or prejudice: “You are either pure or your are not.”
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/6962
    This is all about protecting the majority status quo and cementing minority ties.
    The problem is the American Black community has always splintered from within when it comes to the color line, hair, brown paper bag tests and acceptable speech patterns.

  3. I would like to see some more data – ie the age of the people who voted , whether those who took part in the survey were registered voters and what their income/economic status was.
    In the UK young voters both black and white feel alienated by wealthy middle class black and white politicians – there is no point of reference.
    The young urban poor of any colour/race will not be ale to relate to/support a candidate who is affluent and has the trappings of wealth.
    Is Barack Obama seen as a black man – or as a black man who has gone over to the other side and playing the white man’s game? (Even though logically politics is a white man’s game and has to be played by their rules? )

  4. Hi Nicola! There’s a link to the PDF research file right at the start of the article. It is action-packed with all that detail and more. It’s a truly fascinating read.
    In the USA we still live by the color line, though the report suggests it matters less to teenagers than those in their 50s.
    My blunt read on the situation is: Barack is seen as Black by Whites and as a sort of traitor by the Black community for “talking White” and attending Harvard instead of a traditional “Black College.”
    http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ207478&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ207478
    http://nymag.com/news/features/39321/index2.html
    Obama, if he is the democrat candidate, will not win the South or the Bible belt. He’ll do well in the urban core with White liberals. I’m not sure he’d win the Black vote because it currently belongs to Hillary:
    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1581666,00.html

  5. David:
    Thanks.
    “The problem is the American Black community has always splintered from within when it comes to the color line, hair, brown paper bag tests and acceptable speech patterns.”
    I think the black community is splintered in the UK too – those of Caribbean origin, from West Africa, from sub-Saharan Africa, from north Africa and so on. Some are direct migrants; some came through the colonies. One can hear it in their names too – some have white-sounding names and others have traditional Afro-Caribbean names.
    “My blunt read on the situation is: Barack is seen as Black by Whites and as a sort of traitor by the Black community for “talking White” and attending Harvard instead of a traditional “Black College.”
    You also have a point there. A few years ago, I think 2004, a TV programme followed 4 black students in Cambridge (where fewer than 1% of the student population is black). One of them observed that in her pursuit of a career in the City (The Financial District of London), she was now isolated in her community where she was expected to go to local college and not posh Oxbridge.
    It breaks my heart to see this aspect of minority ‘unification’ projects. Why must be be united by lowering the bar? Why not by raising the bar?

  6. Shefaly —
    There are some communities that if you “try to get out” of your current station you will be punished or killed for trying to raise yourself above the average.
    Some kids have to disappear in the middle of the night to get out and start a new life in a whole new place for college or even a better job. That effect is born of, “You aren’t better than me and if I can’t get out, you can’t, either.” It’s a scary notion.
    Lowering the bar takes no effort. Lifting the bar takes cohesion, agreement and direction of purpose. Only a few people are able to build while everyone knows how to tear down:
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2005/12/06/tearing-down-beauty-and-goodness/
    “Yes” is much harder than “No.”
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2005/05/30/always-say-yes/

  7. Thanks for those great links, Shefaly! We go link-wild here, so you can put up to 7 of them in a comment before getting held in moderation.
    Watson was a fascinating case and he just goes to show intelligence has nothing to do with being smart.

  8. David,
    I’m a little unclear about what you mean about the Jewish ideal of racial purity. I assume you mean about the prohibition of intermarriage and not ‘skin colour’ race as you can find people of every tone who read from the same Torah three times a week. The thing about that is that there is nothing you can do to become white whereas a dedication to the ideals of the Torah and a helpful rabbinic court makes anyone just as Jewish as Moses our teacher. We don’t shut out anyone who is genuinely interested in being ‘one of us’ 🙂

  9. Hi Gordon!
    Yes, the idea that — as it was taught to me by my Jewish friends — that you “aren’t really Jewish” unless your mother is Jewish and that a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother creates “impure children” in that the children were not born from a Jewish mother.
    Sure, you can always “become” Jewish, but my understanding of the lesson taught is that conversion is not “as pure” as being born into the race with wholly Jewish parents.
    Here’s an interesting article on this idea from 2005.
    http://www.adl.org/ADL_Opinions/Israel/JewishWeek_030405.htm
    Here’s a NYTimes piece from 1905 wondering on the same matter:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A0CE6D71738EF32A2575BC2A9639C946497D6CF

  10. Chas v’shalom – G-d forbid – that a convert would be considered not as pure. Three times a day in our prayers we say :

    On the righteous, on the devout, on the elders of Your people the Family of Israel, on the remnant of their scholars, on the righteous converts and on ourselves – may your compassion be aroused, Hashem, our G-d, and give goodly reward to all who sincerely believe in Your Name.

    The only difference between a person who is born Jewish and a convert is that the convert does not have Jewish family whereas the born Jew does. There is in fact a commandment encouraging us to love the convert as they are akin to a stranger in a strange land – and we as Jews were once strangers in Egypt and were foully treated.
    The thing is that you’re not Jewish at all if your mother isn’t Jewish. It doesn’t have anything to do with purity. You’re just not, from a Jewish legal standpoint, Jewish. If you go to the 10 items or Fewer lane and you have 50 items, you’re in the wrong lane – that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. You just happen to be in the wrong lane. 🙂

  11. Hi Gordon!
    There is a fascination with blood and fluids and purity when it comes to reckoning with the Jewish faith:

    Parashat Tazri’a begins with the laws concerning the birth of a son or daughter (Leviticus 12:1-7). Reading these verses raises many questions, inasmuch as we would have expected that a woman who has given birth has achieved the highest level of holiness. After all, having created new life, she becomes like God. Yet, in these verses we read that giving birth renders her “impure.” This impurity is lifted only after she remains “in a state of blood purification” for a lengthy period of time: 33 days after the birth of a son, and 66 days after the birth of a daughter. This seems odd for several reasons. What is it about blood, before or after birth, that makes it impure? What is special about the “blood of purification”? Why does the birth of a daughter require a longer period of purification? Because purity and impurity in these verses is connected to blood – the pure and the impure….

    http://www.schechter.org.il/iyounei_chabate_achion.asp?id=63
    Going way back again — the matter of purity and blood and race was raised and bitten by the matter of “Menstruating Jewish Men” —

    Certain important Spanish doctors — the king’s own physicians — demonstrated menstruation to be symptomatic in Jewish males. These physicians and other sources from the time typically combine the accusation of menstruation with that of hemorrhoids, classifying a blood flow from the anatomically ambiguous lower strata of the male body as a Jewish disease. While this was not a new accusation, in seventeenth-century Spain it was combined for the first time with legal language that sought to create a notion of “impure blood” as referring to one’s family or caste. In the following study, I argue that medical discourse about menstruation was here uniquely combined with legal discourse in order to create a notion of racial impurity.

    http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/bulletin_of_the_history_of_medicine/v073/73.3beusterien.html
    Here’s an interesting essay: “Different Blood Flows in Our Veins: Race and Jewish Self-Definition in Late Nineteenth Century America”
    http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/american_jewish_history/v085/85.1goldstein.html
    Here’s a tough essay mocking the matter of purity of bloodline — from 1908!

    Opposition against the intermingling of Jewish blood with that of other races is as untenable in theory as in practice; first, because no race has shown a greater adaptability to “Aryan” civilization than the Jew (being, in fact, the parent of civilization through the Mosaic law); and second, because the hyphenation of modern races is actually finding a corollary in a constantly increasing Jewish-Gentile sanguinity. As the alien traits of the Jew fade into softer outline, the elements of attraction will outweigh those of repulsion, and national, racial, and religious bigotry will be submerged in an irresistible confluence.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/190804/jewish-social-disability/4
    So the point I’m trying to make here is there is a habit and pattern in antiquity of separation and distance by the idea of blood and Race when it comes to Judaism and while some of those notions may be quaint and out-dated their lingering aftereffects are part of the general code of notions that are “out there” and sensed by the mainstream world but perhaps never investigated or acted upon.
    Until now. 😀

  12. There is a tremendous amount of misunderstand regarding what it means to be impure in the world of Judaism. Right now, in the world we live in, absolutely every single Jew is impure with the impurity of death because we have all come into contact with or been near a corpse or any of the other things that could pass on this impurity. The only thing that impurity of death or of giving birth has any relevance to is the ability of a person to go to the Holy Temple and to offer an animal sacrifice. Since right now in our day there is no Holy Temple it doesn’t have any effect whatsoever other than between the woman who gave birth and her husband.
    The phrase “in a state of blood purification” is grossly misunderstood by the first article. This is exactly the reason why there is an Oral tradition to go along with our Written Torah – with just the written Torah you get misunderstandings like this. The phrase “in a state of blood purification”, according to my text (that has explanation) means that during that period of time (33 or 66 days) she is not rendered impure by her regular menstrual cycle as she normally would be. This has been made more or less irrelevant by rabbinic decree which followed afterwards – they perhaps were concerned that a person might come to entirely disregard the laws of Niddah after the 33 or 66 days and so the ‘fence’ was built to maintain the laws of Niddah regardless of having just given birth.
    Again, this is all to do with intimate relations between a husband and his wife and the ability of the wife to go to the Holy Temple – all other life goes on as normal and there’s no separation or distance.
    Disclaimer : I am not a rabbi and I might have explained that poorly. Slicha (which just means I’m sorry) 🙂