POS334-L: THE RACE AND ETHNICITY BOOK REVIEW DISCUSSION LIST
Patterson, Orlando (1997). The Ordeal of Integration. Civitas Counterpoint: Washington D.C.
|Scott Berends <firstname.lastname@example.org>||Re: Patterson review|
|"M. Beatriz Diaz" <email@example.com>||The Ordeal of Integration (Diaz)|
|Mylon Jamar Kirksy <firstname.lastname@example.org>||The Ordeal Of Integration (Kirsky)|
|Robert Wayne Taylor <email@example.com>||Re: Ordeal of Integration, Mylon|
|Gregg DeWein <GDwiz@AOL.COM>||The Ordeal of Integration.(dewein)|
|Danielle Lee Walker <firstname.lastname@example.org>||Re: The Ordeal of Integration.(dewein)|
|john kropke <email@example.com>||Patterson review|
|Date:||Wed, 28 Apr 1999 01:47:04 -0500|
|From:||Scott Berends <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Subject:||Re: Patterson review|
"The First Principle states that high level jobs do not go to the most qualified but to individuals with more organizational knowledge and social or interactional attributes (Euro-Americans)."
John- I have a slight problem with this "principle" as I simply do not believe it is correct. I agree that the high-level jobs do go to the people with the most organizational knowledge and social or interactional attributes, but I would argue that these are part and parcel in the set of attributes called "qualifications". While I realize that this may simply seem like nit-picking on my part, it is these very types of misunderstandings among the American people that has contributed to the present problem.
Scott Berends Illinois State University
Back to top...
|Date:||Thu, 29 Apr 1999 09:16:41 -0500|
|From:||"M. Beatriz Diaz" <email@example.com>|
|Subject:||The Ordeal of Integration (Diaz)|
Patterson, O. (1997). The Ordeal of Integration. Civitas Counterpoint: Washington, D.C.
Belligerent sociologist, who fiercely refuses to be classified in either side, Orlando Patterson believes both liberal and conservative assumptions of race are irrational, hollow, and misled. He tries to escape from the prevailing conventionalist discussions about race. This warrior-like style Patterson uses in his introduction of "The Ordeal of Integration," appears to support that, paradoxically, none of both sides of analysis on race are irreconcilable, but two faces of the same coin. None of them has the truth because both of those ideas are correct.
Patterson contends that liberals like David Shipler, who argues this is a nation of strangers without salvation, and conservative like Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, who acknowledge the advance of Afro-Americans as exceptional, are essentially, part of the same situation. Americans' tendency to see things narrowly and categorize people as well is part of the problem, for which he offers his own experience of being catalogued "as 'liberal,' 'conservative,' 'racist,' 'Tom,' 'feminist,' 'sexist,' or whatnot." (p. 11). By the same token, he, as sociologist, rejects the American belief in the value of firsthand experience, considering it absurd. He writes in the Introduction of his book: "The most misinformed statement about the 'black condition' by an ignorant resident of the ghetto is accepted as the truth about the plight of the poor"(p. 3), criticizing the opinions of amateurs as subjective approach to analyze race. For example, Patterson regards Shipler's "A Country of Strangers: Blacks and White in America" as a pessimist collection of interviews and anecdotes without scientific foundation. Patterson documents major progress in American race relations. At the same time, he supports affirmative action programs, which will be useful for fifteen more years in this transitional stage the society is living now. Because of whites use their social contacts to create a network in which is more important whom you know more than what you know to succeed. The reason why affirmative action is so important for Patterson is because it encourages more whites and blacks to work together, instead of being apart.
Because integration is an ongoing process, Patterson diverges with liberal and conservative's views. He does not evaluate the state of things at the present moment. Since the era of segregation, Afro-Americans having made enormous progress, such as the growth of the Afro-American middle class, the situation has worsened for inner-city blacks. The paradox is that integration cannot be achieved without conflict. On one hand, liberal social scientists advocate to eliminate race as a biological category and maintain race as a cultural and statistical category. On the other hand, conservatives, as the Thernstroms show, in their statistically based analysis, that the races are getting along well. For Patterson, they dismiss the real dynamics of society because large-scale discrimination is a fact and the government has the obligation to help the people harmed by it.
The improvement is not inevitable, but the result of purposeful integrationist policies, only until Afro-Americans are safe as members of the American society. For Patterson, the unquestionable problem in America is the increase of economic disparity, not what Euro-Americans do to Afro-Americans to be the latter subjected to victimization because it lengthens their dependency. Both the right and the left have interest in seeing the conditions of Afro-Americans worse than it is. The right desirous of punishing the government for the nonsuccess of its programs on supporting the poor, stands to reason magnifying the problem to show the welfare dependency. The liberals, building up racism as an incurable cancer, keeping the urgency for government to step in even more, ponder the situation as hopeless because the government has not gone far enough
Both ways of thinking distract Americans from the very social ills. For this reason, Patterson considers cardinal to discuss the dilemma of race in America without using the term "race" as category, but as part of the "ordeal' of integration. The more equal the society turns, the more past disparities will be a cause of insult for Afro-Americans. It is a contradictory reality: as the relations between formerly ostracized groups change, becoming fairly better for Afro-Americans, they will feel worse, even when Euro-Americans perceive the Afro-Americans' situation improving. What occurs is that the two insights are accurate. The economic improvement for some makes the deprivation for others seem worse. In addition, two-thirds of Afro-Americans have become successful in America. It had happened, not by following Jesse Jackson's admonitions just to feel exceptional, but by acting in ways that would made them exceptional. The conservatives understand this truth: that people are capable of making decisions and taking responsibility for the decisions they make.
What appears to be a division of races, is a separation of classes. By disregarding race, Patterson acknowledges the disproportion between middle and working classes. The Euro-American underclass exists. If the discussion would not stake on race, issues like crime, poverty, teen-age pregnancy, college admission, income distribution, and job selection would be admitted as problems for poor whites. Out of-wedlock families, drug abuse, and a predisposition toward the use of violence characterize this group. For example, the rural mountain Georgia and Tennessee Euro-Americans score lower in SAT tests than working class urban whites. For working Afro-Americans the question is low income, a growing inequality in the society, and lack of skills. The rich are richer and the poor poorer. For example, the income gap between the average worker and the average CEO has increased by three hundred-forty percent since 1974.
In my view, what Patterson does with his pro-con view of the race relations and American culture is to improve the quality of the debate, without lining up with factions. The experience of coming from another country gives him a comparative frame of reference that many American natives lack. In addition, Patterson's view from analytical distance and historical approach constantly focused on race, conceals important matters of class relations. The terrible separation between blacks and whites is in part a terrible separation between rich and poor. He is a thinker with an unusual approach to the problems in America. However, nobody can presage the future to know that affirmative action would be useful only for fifteen more years. For the reason Patterson is a historian and social scientist, he must know that fifteen years are nothing in comparison with a history of four hundred years of racial discrimination.
"M. Beatriz Diaz" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Back to top...
|Date:||Fri, 30 Apr 1999 08:14:53 -0500|
|From:||Mylon Jamar Kirksy <email@example.com>|
|Subject:||The Ordeal Of Integration (Kirsky)|
The Ordeal of Integration by Orlando Patterson
Reviewed by Mylon Kirksy
In the spirit of Getting Beyond Race, by Richard Payne, Orlando Patterson believes that the notion of race should be done away with. In his book, the Ordeal of Integration Patterson argues that racial categorization is one of the primary reasons for the division of whites and blacks in this country. Unlike Richard Payne, Patterson's book is not written as a prelude to the future, instead, he discusses the problems and social situations between whites and blacks in the United States that exist today that make the process of integration so difficult. The book touches on a variety of subjects with special attention toward matters of economics, social interactions and racial barriers. The information is presented as an equal exchange dialogue. That is, there is no blame put on either side of the issue; rather, there is just an open exchange of ideas and rationales about situations and why they exist. More than any other book that I have read, Orlando Patterson does a fantastic job of presenting both sides of "gray" issues. A great deal of his success is because, the book contains a wide variety of positions from different authors and integrates them with brilliance to explain what is wisely the title of the book, the Ordeal of Integration.
To begin, the book springs into action by talking about the fallacy and over-emphasis of race. Patterson sets the foreground by telling the reader that the use of white and black to describe the races would be substituted with Euro-American and Afro-American to clear the air of arbitrary and negatively loaded language. He explains that the terms black and white have helped to infuriate and perpetuate racial animosity on both sides.
The next topic that Patterson discusses is the overall status and improvement of Afro-Americans. First, the conversation is built around Afro-Americans in political and social life; then it shifts to education and economics. Reverting to his two-sides approach, he first describes the ways in which Afro-Americans have made great progress, then the conversation switches to obstacles yet to overcome. Patterson describes the success of Afro-Americans as amazing. He notes that a minority that makes up roughly 12% of the U.S. population is responsible for much more than half of its dominating cultural norms, language, music and fashion. In addition, he gives credit to the skillful way that Afro-Americans have made head-way into the political scene through holding governor-ships mayor seats, and an array of other public offices.
Not only that, Patterson notes that race relations have also improved since the time of the 60's, where many anti-discriminatory laws were passed and executive orders were issued, so much so that reports reveal that only 13 % of Euro-Americans responded that they do not like Afro-Americans. He compares this percentage not only with past attitudes in the United States, but also with attitudes of other nations in regards to their own racial or ethnic intolerance. For example, he says that a 1991 poll revealed that 42 % of French people expressed dislike for their North African minority; 21% of the English openly detested the Irish among them; 45% of West Germans held unfavorable views of the Turkish minority and 49% of Czechoslovakians expressed dislike for the Hungarian minority among them. If taking an optimistic approach, making light of these statistics represents the idea that the United States is far more advanced in minority relations than many of its sister nations. On the other hand, conclusions regarding these statistics could be viewed from other perspectives. Arguments opposed would indicate that 13% is a low estimate that is caused by Americans' unwillingness toward open and honest discussion on issues involving race. In addition, arguments can also be made that apples and oranges are being compared when looking at the different countries in comparison to ours. The intolerance that is depicted through the statistics of the other countries involves minority differences in ethnicity. Whereas, the United State's minority statistic involves race. Having said that, there is a possibility racial intolerance may be even less of an issue (if an issue at all) in other nations compared to the United States, indicating again that the United States has a problem with race relations.
On the other side of the continuum, Patterson discusses areas in which Afro-Americans are still progressing in politics and social status. He notes that not much ground has been gained in terms of very powerful political seats such as senator, representative or judge. In addition, he indicates that dejure segregation (self-segregation) exemplifies a great deal of the social barriers between Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans.
One of the reasons for this is the "false-empathy syndrome" and the "blame game." False empathy involves someone believing that they empathize and can understand the struggles of another without having themselves gone through it. This gets problematic because it causes a lack of communication between the races and does not offer opportunity for a dialogue on the issues because each believe they can already understand the other's perspective(s). Also, both Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans get involved in a game were one tries to blame and make the other feel guilty about a situation in the hopes that the burden of "action" will be put off them and on to the other. Shelby Steele commented on this same concept in his book A Dream Deferred. He stated that Blacks were too involved with trying to make Whites accountable for all of the ails in the Black community, and instead of trying to "pull one's self up from the bootstraps" Blacks would rely on Whites to cure the problem. Ironically, which Patterson points out, how can you expect, assuming that you believe that Whites oppress Blacks systematically, the person who oppresses you to pull you up, or even want to help, at the same time? In addition to this, both Shelby Steele and Patterson argue that Euro-Americans and Afro-Americans both try to shift blame in order to make themselves feel better or less guilty. In the same token, Patterson says that Afro-Americans engage in hypocrisy because they shift tribulations and blame to Euro-Americans when something is wrong in their community, but except all praise and kudos when things are right in their community. Patterson says, doesn't the same person who excepts responsibility on one end except it on the other? In part, he is arguing for Afro-Americans to hold themselves accountable for the things that they do and that are done upon them, as is Shelbe Steele.
Shifting toward education and economics, Patterson highlights the success and growth of the Afro-American middle class. He gives figures that show increases in averages over four decades for Afro-Americans in education with respect to higher graduation rates, increase in comprehension and level of education achieved; he makes notable mention of the increase in Afro-American college students. These achievements in education are parallel to those in economics. With respect to economics, Patterson also compares the condition of the family for both Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans.
Responsible for much of the success of Euro-Americans is the dominant role that family plays in the development of their socioeconomic status. For many Euro-Americans, family acts as a strong financial support. Not only are more Euro-American families headed with two parent providers than Afro-American families, they also have solid generational economic status that secures them. More single parents (women) than Euro-American families head Afro-American families' percentages wise. Because of this, most times there is less total income in single-parent families. On top of this, Afro-American middle class is just recently beginning to flower, whereas Euro-American middle class, and beyond, has been established since who knows when. These conditions attribute much of the reason that Euro-Americans and Afro-Americans are at different economic levels, the majority of course is a direct causation of the condition of disadvantage. Consequently, some argue that the Afro-American middle class is not a true middle class anyway. They argue that the stability of the middle class relies on day-to-day work and does not involve fixed assets and dependable means for sustaining it.
More than economic status, the condition of Afro-American economics influences the relationship between the two races. Patterson argues that Afro-Americans base their actions according to and in reaction to what Euro-Americans do. Patterson describes two behaviors exhibited by Afro-Americans, determinism and personal autonomy.
Determinism is the view that racism is an inevitable action and will never cease to impact the lives of Afro-Americans. Also, determinism involves a helpless victim mentality, where the victims blames situations on the perpetrator and perceives themselves as defenseless. Patterson warns Afro-Americans against this behavior. Being a "victim" implies that you are weak and damaged from actions. Instead, Patterson would like to see Afro-Americans be "survivors." Surviving means weathering storms and involves taking responsibility for yourself and your condition. This is what Patterson calls autonomy.
Autonomy is taking responsibility for one's action and from a metaphoric sense, turning rain into rainbows. More than this, autonomy involves having a sense of self-worth that is not based on someone else's. Sadly, Patterson says that a majority of self-esteem is attained through false means. Moral declaration is simply to declare that one has achieved personal autonomy. Like all of the methods I will explain, moral declaration is not "bad" but the way that it is most commonly executed is ineffective. The problem with proclamation is that often times the person has not truly embraced the concept. An example of this is illustrated through Jesse Jackson's "I am somebody " message. People can easily repeat something and still not live it out.
Another strategy commonly used by Afro-Americans is Ethnic brotherhood. The underlining principle behind this strategy is the notion of self-determination. However, when individuals come together they are a lot stronger than when they are apart. Because of this, the method alone does not suffice. A personal commitment to brotherhood must be sustained through individual action, not just collective.
Other strategies include moral rebellion, which is the act of resisting or declaring "a limit" to oppressive behavior; this too has its downfalls. Resisting should not just be a product of action at times of tribulation or difficulties; it should be a consistent process through both good and bad times. Perhaps the most dangerous method of achieving autonomy is through existential rebellion. This is rebellion in direct response to the system of racism and its actors who are thought to be Euro-Americans (for most individuals). This is where the "system" is blamed and the behavior of victimization occurs on the part of Afro-Americans. Patterson detests this and says that your independence and self worth cannot be based on reaction because then when action ceases to occur, one has no identity.
Integration is a slow process. The key to understanding it is contingent upon whether or not you believe in it. Despite what position you take, Patterson through The Ordeal of Integration gives us an account of how to re-conceptualize the problem, understand the causes and create the future for better human relations in this country.
Back to top...
|Date:||Sat, 1 May 1999 14:23:51 -0500|
|From:||Robert Wayne Taylor <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Subject:||Re: Ordeal of Integration, Mylon|
Mylon, I enjoyed reading your review on Ordeal of Integration but I just had a few comments and questions.
In Paragraph three, you stated that the author notes that a minority that makes up roughly 12% of the population is responsible for over half of the dominating cultural norms, language, fashion, and music. I was wondering what support the author gives for this. Although I can agree that the Afro-America culture has give America a good deal, how does he get to the point of over half of all of these items? I was confused about this issue.
In your fourth paragraph you talk about on 13% of Euro-Americans stated they disliked Afro-Americans, but then compared this to all of the other countries where ethnic identity comes into play. I think there is a great point of the possibility for this measurement being unwillingness for openness and honest discussion. I wonder how the measurement would have been if the question would have been how many Americans dislike other Americans. I believe the number would be higher. I think the most important item here to remember is that whether we are taking about Euro- or Afro- they are all Americans.
Once again, a great review.
Robert Taylor, email@example.com
Back to top...
|Date:||Mon, 3 May 1999 09:02:58 -0500|
|From:||Gregg DeWein <GDwiz@AOL.COM>|
|Subject:||The Ordeal of Integration.(dewein)|
Patterson, O (1997). The Ordeal of Integration. Civitas Counterpoint: Washington D.C.
This book written by Orlando Patterson, was a positive and refreshing outlook on what racism is and what its going to become. Patterson combines his knowledge of sociology and race relations to construct interesting and provocative ideas of the American racial dilemma. He makes many arguments to show that race relations in the United States have never been better. One of the main focal points in this book is how Afro-Americans have come such a long way in education and income status. More and more black families now belong to the middle-class than ever before. He points out how Afro-Americans underestimate the progress their won race is making. His book uses a great deal of statistics to show this achievement. He uses graphs to point out how income has increased in black households over the last 30 years. He also uses graphs to show how non-poor married couple families make up almost a third of the black population in the US. Blacks and whites, or what Patterson likes to refer them as Euro-Americans, make common misperceptions about the lives and experiences of black and white America. This is where the title comes in. These misperceptions on the races are limiting the success of integration. This is just one part of the "Ordeal with Integration."
Patterson, who is a professor of sociology at Harvard, really tries to imply ways to look at racism in other eyes besides conservative or liberal ways. He feel that most racists are conservative, but conservatives aren't racist. This means that the conservation view is semi-consistent when looking into racial relations. He feels that liberalism can take much of the credit for the progress make by Afro-Americans over the past half-century. Most liberals are committed to the idea of individualism and self-determinism. But he then argues that black liberals especially, believe that their is no-self determinism and individualism, and that there needs to be more. Basically, what these two different sides to the problem of race relations is add to the problem.
Patterson does have strong views and very much in favor of affirmative action. He says that affirmative action will be useful for the next 15 years. This gives blacks and whites more time to work together instead of being apart. Blacks can benefit form affirmative action because they too will eventually gain a circle of contacts and networking capabilities. To have success in American, personal networks are essential. Black need a little more time to almost be at the same pace with whites. After his 15 year phase s over, he believe that we should then do away with the affirmative action and replace it with a class based program. Patterson sees groups like Hispanics, first generation ancestry from Africa, and the Caribbean should be excluded from affirmative action. He says that their generations should be fit enough to go ahead in life. He also says the same about all Asians except Chinese Americans descending from pre-1923 immigrants. In about ten years or so we should gradually change the program to being based on class. That means woman and minorities that are from
families with incomes of over $75,000 dollars should be excluded from affirmative action considerations. He feels that the only people who should be allowed at this time are woman and minorities from working and lower class backgrounds.
Patterson reveals in this book the idea for blacks are on two different levels regarding progress. He says that he majority of Afro-Americans feel that present times are the "best of times" for blacks. But for a minority, they feel just the opposite. Blacks are very much a part of America's political structure. They occupy many different levels of political importance. They gets to these standards because of merit, not because of tokenism or ethic representation. Patterson feels that Afro-Americans have also become full members of the nations moral community, and carry on their values with great respect. The other part of the Afro-American feel that these are the worst of times. Patterson says that 60 percent of Afro-American children are in female-headed households. 45 percent of female-headed households are in poverty. Nearly 30 percent of all Afro-Americans, as of 1996, live in poverty. As far as unemployment goes , Afro-American experience an unemployment rate that doubles the whites rate. Patterson's ideas on progress among Afro-Americans, especially among the middle-class, is an on-going process. One that will keep in flourishing. He believes that both conservatives and liberals make racism into more than it really should be. He thinks racism should be looked at as a way to separate statistics, not as a category of everyday life. He feels that in order to establish integration certain measure need to apply. Integration of schools, religion, and families need to apply.
He feels that "there is no evidence that separate but equal today works anymore than it did a century ago." School integration is very important because it increases educational opportunities for Afro-Americans, and it also increases ethnic tolerance and gives Afro-Americans access to social networks. He of coarse brings in statistics to prove this idea. The Afro-American middle-class will help integration the most because they will seek out and pay for the best schools for their children. They know what its going to take to make their children the best they can be. Also to make the Afro-Americans the best they can be. Patterson thinks that experiments with same-sex schools or charter schools could offer a possible productive result in getting children with social problems a better atmosphere to learn.
Another way to encourage integration, Patterson says that churches need to join races. He mainly talks about Christianity being highly segregated. The book says, "in contrast with the dramatic changes in all other areas in recent decades, 73 percent of Euro-Americans still go to churches that are respectively, almost or nearly all Euro-Americans and 71 percent of Afro-Americans still go to churches that are, respectively, almost or nearly all Euro-American and Afro-American. " he points out that segregation is very un-Christian, and both whites and blacks are guilty of it.
In order to gain integration, he also says that we must except intermarriage. With a number of figures, Pattersn already points out how integration through marriage is already occurring. Marriage integration has good effects and bad effects. One good effect s that new social options open up. Patterson calls them "ethnic options." A bad effect of this could lead to hatred between families, there for creating a closed social network. Patterson also feels that Afro-American woman can really benefit from this. He thinks that Afo-American woman need to expand their options by widening the network of men whom they are prepared to marry. If both Afro-American men and woman do this, new possibilities will open up in the political and moral communities.
After reading this book, I really feel that it has opened my mind a little wider. Some of Patteson's critics feel that he is too radical with some of his viewpoints, but I feel that they are quite interesting. This book was written I think, to open the eyes of many people who constantly keeps them closed. I guess what I'm trying to say is some of these should really be looked at by conservatives. Many conservatives will call him a radical, but some of the possibilities can be matched. For instance, I feel that he is right on when he discusses the issue of marriage integration. More and more inter-marriages are taking place, and that's a good thing. Some may say that his opinions can only be operated by the middle and upper class blacks, but I say that if people just apply themselves and want to better themselves, anything can be done. When it comes to the "Ordeal of Integration," I say Patterson looks at with a positive light, and his views might just take that breakthrough chance to change race relations in America.
Back to top...
|Date:||Tue, 4 May 1999 16:29:20 -0500|
|From:||Danielle Lee Walker <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Subject:||Re: The Ordeal of Integration.(dewein)|
Your review is very analytical and I think that it is well done. You make it clear what Orlando Patterson is basing his arguements on. I like optimistic authors and the fact that he keeps hope alive for positive racial relations is good. He focuses on the bright side that much progress has been made. This is something that I agree with him on. When he focuses on how people are standing currently his use of graphs is very clever. He uses these graphs to validate his comments.
I am gathering by your review that although he is very positive about the future of America regarding race relations, he is still realistic by admitting that the racial problems that linger are still very much there. He discusses stereotypes that cause many people to have a hard time with moving ahead. That is all so true.
The fact that he expands on the different ways to view racism as opposed to being either simply conservative or liberal is thought provoking. His distinguishing of conservatives and racists is very insightful. I agree with him that liberals can take praise for accounting for a lot of the changes that have taken place as a result of their determination. The complexity of liberalism was beneficial for him to bring up. In life there are many positive and negative sides of issues. It is not always clean cut.
I would not say that affirmative action should be excluded for other ethnic groups, but I agree with him that affirmative action will be around for quite a while.
The contrastings view of Afro-Americans regarding present day progress was informative. It was good that he made it clear that not all black people feel the same way. I am not sure what to think of his belief that conservatives and liberals go overboard on their focus on racism. I do agree with him however that integration is necessary and beneficial. His use of statistics demonstrating interracial marriages was thoughtful. He made it clear that there are positive and negative consequences of interracial marriages.
He focused some attention on black women. When discussing the trials and tribulations of blacks, he noted when I read in your review that 60% of black household are headed by black women. He also discussed how he feels that they should expand their horizon when looking for men. The fact that he brought the subject up of relationships for black women is interesting to me. He seems to delve into their situations somewhat.
I agree with you that this book's purpose was to create an awareness. I think that a lot of people should read it. I also agree with you that if people followed some of his viewpoints, change could happen.
Back to top...
|Date:||Tue, 27 Apr 1999 15:30:04 -0500|
|From:||john kropke <email@example.com>|
For the great majority of Afro-Americans, these are genuinely the best of times, but for the minority they would seem to be, relatively, among the worst of times. In Orlando Pattersons book The Ordeal of Integration: Progress and Resentment in Americas Racial Crisis, Patterson takes a closer look at integration in America. We see how the media, extremist, political leaders, and others use data and information and mold it to their liking. Patterson points out and rightfully so, that America over the past half century has made great progress in improving the socioeconomic and political condition of Afro-Americans. But as more Afro-Americans are moving up the socioeconomic ladder, a large minority is fallen farther behind. Patterson asks the question, is the problem with todays society a race problem, or is it what Patterson believes it is, a class struggle. We will look at what has worked, and what has not. And we will look at what needs to be done, to make this society a beloved community. By making up only 13 percent of the population, it is astounding the impact the Afro-American has had on the nations popular culture. One cannot turn on the television, radio, or go to the movies and not see the presence of the Afro-American populace. A fact that would have been unheard of just thirty
years ago. For the first time ever, an Afro-American woman with a Bachelors Degree has a higher reported median income, compared to Euro-American women with the same educational attainment. But as we have seen over and over again as the rich get richer the poor get poorer. Over 29 percent of all Afro-American persons were poor as of March 1996. With 41.5 percent of Afro-American children under age 18 living in poverty. The main cause for these tragic statistics are that 60 percent of all Afro-American children are in female-headed households and 45 percent of female-headed households are in poverty. A state that if not changed will have devastating consequences. The act of integration is a tough one. When Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans were segregated there was little opportunity for conflict. But with integration came change, and as we know, with change, there are ups and downs.
Patterson shows two cases of integration, one at The Washington Post, and the other one, a government sponsored program, called the Gautreaux Program. At the Post in the early 1970s there were a handful of Afro-Americans employed. By 1995, 18 percent of its professional staff were of minority origin. It did not come easy; there was a great deal of friction. Many people thought things were getting worse. But as Patterson points out, things appear to get worse, and are perceived as getting worse, because they are getting better. If two groups were segregated for more than 350 years and all of the sudden are integrated, if there was not friction, than meaningful change had not taken place.
At the Gautreaux Program, inner-city families were moved to both Euro-American suburban communities and to working class Afro-American city communities. It was a two-phase study. After the first data came out, and showed that yes, there is still some racial problems, the media jumped all over it, saying it was true; whites and blacks could never get along. After the second set of data came out, it showed that the suburban movers were four times less likely to drop out of school, and more than twice as likely to attend college. But you did not hear a word of it from the media. The youths that moved to the working-class Afro-American community were almost as likely to be verbally harassed and more likely to be physically threatened. For one can make the argument that we have class prejudice as much, if not more than a racial prejudice.
Misinformation and ignorance, dealing with demographic and socioeconomic realities by all groups, leads people to think one way, while in reality, it is just the opposite. When Afro-Americans are asked about the condition of Afro-Americans, 67 percent said it has grown worse or remained the same. But when they were asked how satisfied with their own standard of living, 74 percent express satisfaction with both their standard of living, and personal lives. When the media bombards their viewers with endless graphic pictures of violence, with its if it bleeds, it leads policy, you can see how one can come away with a negative perspective. We live in a day where conflict sells.
And the only thing that conflict breeds is division. The three paths to personal autonomy Patterson looks at are: declaration, brotherhood, and rebellion.
Declaration is what Jesse Jackson uses with his call-and-response strategy. The I am somebody rhetoric. The problem with this technique is that it lacks substance. And sometimes it falls into the Do what I say, not what I do category.
The brotherhood path is one that is a movement whose primary goal is self-determination for its distinctive group. The Million-Man March is a form of brotherhood. The problem with this approach is that it is too collective in its orientation for if one is to be self-transformed, it is a personal act, not a group act.
The existential rebellion path is the path I believe Patterson believes in. The I rebel-therefore we exist motto. To put a chip on your shoulder. To refuse the status Quo. To do what Jospe refers to as The drive to touch, to build, to transform, to change the physical world as well as mens inner world. Just when you think you have someone pegged, he throws you a curve ball. In Pattersons case it is Affirmative Action. Patterson calls Affirmative Action the single most important factor accounting for the rise of a significant Afro-American middle class. He blames the media and politicians for instilling fear in the Euro-American society. He believes a policy that has helped so many, hurt so few, and with data showing that Euro-American workers supporting Affirmative Action, that there should be very little outcry, if any at all. Success breeds success. And the only way to gain success is through access. Access that the Afro-American has been locked out of, for the past 350 years. Patterson states that the more face-to-face contact between Afro-Americans and Euro-Americans the better off we are. He brings up Homans First and Second Principles of Group Behavior. The First Principle states that high level jobs do not go to the most qualified but to individuals with more organizational knowledge and social or interactional attributes (Euro-Americans). The Second Principle states the more people who are unlike each other the more people who are unlike each other live and work with each other, the more they will come to share the same sentiments and social attributes. The more we work and play together, the better we are off as a society.
The main problem Patterson sees in the Afro-American community is the out-of-wedlock teenage birth. In 1995, 92 percent of birth to teens were out-of-wedlock. This in return means greater risk for poverty, remaining a single mother, and hinders their educational progress. Patterson makes a suggestion, that since the fathers of these children are usually the high school star athletes, that if you impregnate a girl in high school, you would not be able to play sports. This sounds nice and easy, but I could just see now, the ACLU, blood test, and transferring become an everyday occurrence. But something has to be done.
Sometimes the hardest questions are answered by the easiest answer. In Pattersons case it is the Golden Rule. This world would be a nicer place if we lived by this simple rule. If we treated everyone the way we would want to be treated, there would be no need for this discussion. In closing, Patterson calls for Afro-Americans to take the initiative, to suffer the great pain, to define and offer the more creative solution. And I in return call on all individuals to take this initiative. As stated earlier, change is not easy, but change is where the answer lies. The answer to the ideal of America as the beloved community.
Back to top...