The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Defeatism In Baltimore

@FromaHarrop

Using the most bloodless terms, an economist explained the failure or inability of so many African-Americans to rise from their impoverished circumstances. They do not respond to the economic incentives that push others to study and strive, he said.

Penniless peasants from Central America pile into freight trains to secure any job in the land of plenty. Black immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa are clearly moving up. So have many African-Americans who’ve left poor city neighborhoods for the suburbs and others who’ve remained.

The economic incentives in this country flash neon lights to most of the world. The one thing that can dim them is defeatism. The rioters in Baltimore and others who defend their activities even halfway have mastered the defeatist language. The deck is totally stacked against poor blacks, they insist, so why even try?

That’s not to say they have a terrific hand to play. The moronic war on drugs has incarcerated huge numbers of black men in an undeniably racist way. A changing economy has made economic progress tougher for working people of all colors.

The mass immigration of unskilled workers has burdened their native-born counterparts with intense competition for jobs. The immigrants are by and large excellent, hardworking people, but it’s dishonest to pretend that the labor market isn’t run by the rules of supply and demand.

And what about Freddie Gray, who died after being held by Baltimore police — the match that lit the Baltimore violence. It’s part of an awful pattern of abuse, poor training and bad hiring in many urban police forces. It also reflects the genuine (and often justified) fear many police feel in encounters with angry young blacks. Every confrontation has its own story.

But the claims that the city isn’t doing anything for the poor black neighborhoods are a disconnect from reality. Is that why high-school kids burned down a CVS the city worked hard to secure for them and, even more inexplicably, a low-income senior housing project costing a reported $16 million?

As expected, cable news has been looping footage of the chaos. That in itself attracts more violent exhibitionists and looters.

So it was gratifying to see CNN airing a very intelligent (and long) interview with the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore. Bryant has led both the peaceful protests over Gray’s death and efforts to stop people from attacking their neighborhood.

“These were not gang members,” he said. “These were high-schoolers.” Thus, he shook his head at the city’s decision to close the schools the day after. “I opened up my church.”

Of the school kids, he stated: “They say nobody cares. More will care when they care about themselves.”

The defeatist mentality, by contrast, often comes off as militant but is actually passive: Nothing is being done for us. “They” haven’t paid attention to our neighborhood. The CVS employing locals and a new home for the elderly were not nothing. Nor is the neighborhood’s once-fine urban streetscape, which could be made handsome again. To get there, though, one must think as an active builder, not as a plaything of uncaring forces.

The positive coming out of the Baltimore story was how many black residents of the blighted neighborhood expressed love for their city and demanded to know why the kids weren’t home studying. And there was the superb Toya Graham, the mother seen dragging her rioting teenage son off the streets.

These kinds of forthright actions pave the road out of defeat. One need not move even a block to get there.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com. 

Photo: Ishawn Nelson, 12, his sister Marae Nelson, 9, and LaQuicha Harper sweep the area outside the CVS on North and Pennsylvania Avenues on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Baltimore, Maryland. The store was looted and set on fire during Monday’s riots. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

John Eastman

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news broadcasts have all ignored the revelation that one of then-President Donald Trump's lawyers authored a memo laying out how Trump could effectively pull off a coup.

John Eastman, a member of the conservative legal establishment who worked with Trump's legal team as the then-president sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, wrote the document in the days leading up to the January 6 counting of electoral votes. His plan lays out various ways then-Vice President Mike Pence and congressional Republicans could use that

Keep reading... Show less

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

It remains to be seen whether or not President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" plan — which includes federal funding for health care, education, child care and combating climate change — will ultimately make it to his desk to be signed into law. The $3.5 trillion price tag is drawing resistance from Republicans as well as centrist Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. But 17 economists, all Nobel Prize recipients, have signed a letter endorsing the plan, which members of the Biden Administration see as crucial to his Build Back Better agenda.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}