Friday Wrap-Up with a Shoutout to Shondaland.

Let me get this out of the way: thank God for Shonda Rhimes, queen of primetime television. Her shows have been my permission slip to be both ambitious and emotionally complicated. No more perfect television women, who are always either perfectly composed or irredeemably crazy. No more stereotyped career women who take every challenge in stride with clear skin and perfect hair. The women in these shows are tough, determined, ruthless, emotional, and brilliant. While some of these characters desperately need either therapy or a tent revival (Grey’s, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder could all be renamed Everybody Needs Jesus and no one would be the wiser) it’s a relief to see complicated characters navigate clever storylines to create entertaining television. So often we see mawkish, tired plots rife with melodrama or cultural stereotypes rehashed in lazy storytelling tropes. My favorite Shondaland character will always be Cristina Yang. She’s unapologetically excellent, and has given me better career advice than any real person ever has.

*collects speech and leaves podium*

Without further ado, here are some of the news stories that were released this week as they relate to the black community:

Attorney General Eric Holder has resigned.

Didn’t we just see Holder in Ferguson, getting everyone’s hopes up by giving the impression that he would take the city’s grievances to the President? According to the HuffPo article I linked to, Holder had been in talks with the President about his departure for several weeks and had settled on a date around Labor Day. That means that when Holder was in Ferguson in the middle of August–ostensibly to offer emotional support and possibly spearhead an investigation–he had already made his mind up to leave. Holder evidently doesn’t respect the office he occupies or the people of Ferguson enough to offer more than a perfunctory visit and scripted condolences.

Things are heating up again in Ferguson with small but intense protests that police are attempting to quash. Accusations of police misconduct continue. No one seems to remember the apology to Mike Brown’s family. It’s time for a strategy. We know there’s a lot of justifiable anger. But what do the people of Ferguson want?

Also, since this week marked television’s return, the sitcom Blackish premiered, and…we’re just not going to dignify this show that paints black culture as an immovable monolith with a response, because a mindless show with such narrow-minded beliefs about blackness deserves silence.

Happy Weekend! See you all on Monday.

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Thought Experiment: Privatizing Public Schools?

Sorry about missing Monday’s post, and (almost) missing Wednesday’s. I was dealing with some symptoms last week and had to catch up on graduate school homework. All is now well and attended to.

This weekend I’m going to DC to debate the topic Resolved: Send Your Child to Public School. I’m looking forward to this debate, because most of the attendants are veterans of the public school system, and I want to hear the arguments in its favor. I myself never saw a day of public school; I attended an independent private school from first grade through high school graduation, and I shudder to think how my life would have been different if I had gone to public school for twelve years. I probably would have been fine, but I wouldn’t have had half of the opportunities I’ve had. I’m pretty sure I would never have considered a school like Wesleyan, let alone applied with confidence.

From my limited understanding of it, attending public school is good deal if you live in wealthy suburb in Long Island, Westchester, or in Hudson Valley. If, like me, you’re a black or Hispanic kid from Brooklyn and your parents can’t afford $40,000 a year tuition to private schools, you’re pretty much out of luck. Public schools in New York City are increasingly turning into drop out factories. Leaving school without a high school diploma is essentially signing up for a life of poverty and hardship. Some of the people can manage to lift themselves out of poverty’s rat race, but in many cases, it’s a road that leads to crime, incarceration, violence, and death.

Recent figures show black and Hispanic students are very far behind their white and Asian counterparts: in dozens of schools, not a single black or Hispanic child passed the statewide reading or math exams. This is a condemnation of the public school systems, but it also shows a lack of parental involvement. Are these parents reading to their kids at night, helping them with homework, attending parent teaching conferences? Probably not. Not all of this is the parents’ fault. Some parents don’t speak English and have to work all the time to put food on the table. But it’s also a question of priorities.

But what about charter schools or specialized high schools? Yes, schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science are terrific if you can get in and survive the pressure-cooker competitiveness long enough to graduate and get into a top college. But most black kids don’t get in; Stuyvesant admits fewer than ten black students per class. It may be a question of not applying because of a lack of skills to score well enough on the test, or low self-esteem to not even consider attending a prestigious school such as Stuyvesant. New York City has the most segregated schools in the country.

Here’s a thought experiment: what would happen if we privatized public schools? How would that affect black and Hispanic students?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m not in education policy. I just know America is falling behind in the world, and children of color are falling behind even further and faster. And if you’re a parent with a child in school, regardless if they’re going to public or private school, you must read to your child in order for them to compete on on a global stage.

I’ll do a post-debate blog post to let you know which way the debate turns out.

Friday Wrap-Up

Hello Friends,

First things first: thank you all for your support this week. As I mentioned earlier, Monday’s post generated a surge in traffic, and I picked up about 20 new Twitter followers. It was one of the most controversial pieces I’ve written in a while, but the response has been positive and encouraging. It’s meant a lot to me, and it was the push I needed to start posting regularly. So thanks again.

Secondly, if you like this blog, consider making a donation to my journalistic alma mater, The American Conservative. They’ve had a great deal of influence on my thoughts and writing since my conversion to the dark side, and helped me make the decision to cut ties with the Democratic party in the first place. They provided me with a platform that reached a lot of people, and remain a publication committed to open-minded thinking that defies any party line or doctrine. Freedom of speech isn’t free, and it’s made possible by readers like you. They deserve to keep up their good work.

Lastly, a few housekeeping things. Starting next Friday, you’ll be able to subscribe to this blog by email, so every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you’ll get a new post in your inbox if you want. In addition, this post will be reserved for news highlights domestically and abroad. I considered writing a bit about the Scottish independence referendum, but I’ve got no real opinion on it and the news coverage has ranged from understated to underwhelming (short story even shorter: they’re staying with the UK). But I have a good deal of interest and experience in foreign affairs, so keep an eye out for internationally related posts.

Enjoy your weekend,

Marjorie

The Winds of Change

Hello friends,

The last couple days have been hectic on this blog. I got a lot of new Twitter followers and many new folks stopped by to read Monday’s post. Since Monday evening it was republished twice, and the response I received has generally been positive. I anticipated devoting today’s post to an apologia, but it seems that that won’t be necessary.

The winds of change are upon us. The growing consensus in Ferguson is that the local Democratic politicians are not cutting it. In a town-hall style meeting in Clayton earlier today, many frustrated black citizens voiced their concerns, and the charged atmosphere suggested that it was only the beginning. Black people everywhere are looking for an alternative that is truly relevant and lasting. I think we can expect an exodus of large numbers of blacks from the Democratic party within the next several months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

So, what does that mean for this blog?

It means I have to write more. People of color (black, Asian, Native American, what have you) need to know there is another way besides the liberal narrative of the left and the myopic aggression of the right. There is a community of conservatives of color out here, and we need to be more visible so that those who are wrestling with internal conflict need not feel so alone. It’s important to connect with like-minded individuals to move the debate forward. Black Republican did it for me, and it’s only right for me to pass it on.

I will be posting, from here on in, three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This is a way for me to be accountable to you, my new audience, and a way for you to know when to check this space for new posts. It’s time for me to step up, and it’s time for you all to get decent, consistent content. I look forward to interacting with you all on here and on Twitter. In the coming weeks I’ll continue to tweak the blog and set up a commenting policy.

Yours in political arms,

Marjorie

The Liberal Narrative and Black Victimhood

Happy Monday, friends.

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while, and now the time has come.

Over the summer, a young teenager named Mike Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police. That event sparked weeks of protests and protracted violence that was extensively covered by the news. Yesterday a black actress was allegedly mistaken for a prostitute, and, according to her, wrongfully detained. Nearly every week there is a story about a black person being oppressed, or unduly suffering through poverty, police brutality, lack of education, and diminished economic opportunity. A spate of thinkpieces periodically pops up with the expected hand-wringing and the question, what is to be done?

Rarely do I see pieces written by black writers that suggest solutions for the deep-seated problems that plague the black communities in America.

The surface reason for this is somewhat intuitive: blacks are not only a minority in numbers, but also in professions such as journalism. There are exceptions such as superstar Ta-Nehisi Coates, but generally speaking there are few black voices, and even fewer who outline practical solutions. You can’t have a solution to a problem when it’s never your fault.

The second, deeper reason for this, I believe is the mentality of black victimhood. Though oppression of blacks was not perpetrated by blacks, I think that blacks buy into their own perceived helplessness and do not do enough to make waves that cause actual change.

What do I mean by this?

I’ve found black movements, on the Internet and in real life, to be largely reactionary. Every time a young black man gets shot, an outpouring of rage follows, accompanied by sympathetic editorials by white authors, and then everyone gets bored and moves on, until the next shooting. And the next.

But Marjorie, I hear the voices protesting, you just don’t understand black people.

Don’t I? My father is black. I’m from Brooklyn and Washington Heights. I’ve worked for members of Congress in Harlem and I’ve campaigned for black candidates. I’ve also worked low wage jobs in East Harlem where the whitest things in the store were the sweaters we were folding. My perspective doesn’t come from safe within an ivory tower. It comes from living among black people, and living with a black man who practically had a weekly special on How the White Man Tried to Screw Me Over and That’s Why I Can’t Get a Regular Job.

I’ve had black people tell me that they don’t vote in local elections because only the presidential elections are important. I’ve listened to college-educated black Democrats tell me that the reason why they and other blacks voted for Obama is because of the color of his skin. I’ve watched black parents spend money they don’t have on clothes and sneakers and gaming consoles and then complain that their kid can’t get a decent education. I’ve seen black women dress like backup dancers in hip-hop videos to job interviews and wonder why they can’t get an office job. I’ve seen flyers in offices commemorating the death of Biggie Smalls, a rapper who lay down some tracks, rather than for Malcolm X, who laid down his life for his beliefs.

And then when injustice strikes, as it inevitably does, it’s because of racism. No. Black America has its head up its ass. This does not make the tragedies anyone’s fault, but it is why I believe nothing changes.

Racism exists, but so does the power of community and personal responsibility. The immediate generation after slavery saw incredible prosperity in the black community and the establishment of the black middle class. Was there incredible racism? Sure. But somehow, blacks were more dignified and prosperous in spite of it. More on that in another blog post.

Ditch the television. Save the money on the sneakers. Stop complaining. Vote every chance you get. Every school board election, primary race, state senate race, mayoral race. There is strength and solidarity in unity. Don’t beg for justice. Expect it. Demand it. Teach your sons what their rights are when dealing with police. Teach them to behave better than the racist bigots. Help them to finish school and/or get a lucrative skill. Encourage the men to marry the women they have children with. Teach your daughters that they are worthy of a commitment before they bear children.

Oh, there goes another compassionless conservative, blaming the victim, the voices say.

Is that so? In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations“, he quotes the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, a black man, and a Democrat, telling young black men to pull up their pants and stop making babies they can’t afford. Coates dismisses this quote, because it doesn’t fit into the liberal narrative that blacks are being screwed over at every turn.  But the fact remans that three out of every four black children are born out of wedlock. The statistics speak for themselves: children who are born to married parents, regardless of color, have better lives. The parents don’t even have to be educated. As long as the parents have finished high school, are married to each other, and wait until after marriage to have children, the kids have a two percent chance of growing up in poverty.

Coates is a truly gifted writer. There is no disputing that. I do, however, dispute Coates’ ability to run a city. My guess is that Coates is not willing to consider that the long history of black underachievement has not only to do with racist policies, but also the ignorance and defeatist attitude that plagues the black community.

Personal responsibility knows no party. If black Americans want change, we have to fight for it. Is it fair that we have to fight? No. But the alternative is living as we are now: blaming everyone else, and watching helplessly as black men ages 16 to 40 are killed and imprisoned, further destroying the black family and unraveling the fabric of black society.

Quick Update

Hello friends,

I know I said I’d post Monday, but my visa situation hit a snag and I had to get that  sorted out. Now I need to catch up on my graduate school reading. I’ll get a post up very soon, pinky swear. I’m thinking Thursdays will probably be my blogging schedule from here on in, will confirm soon.

 

Marjorie

The Show Must Go On

Hello Friends,

I’ve let this account lie fallow, and the fault is mine alone. A lot has happened to me this year: I moved to DC, jetted to California to do a semester of graduate school in six weeks, and am preparing to move to China for a year to teach English, complete a thesis, and finish my graduate degree in international development. Not to mention life has its way of stepping in the ring and throwing the occasional right hook. My reasons are legitimate, excusable even, and so I let myself be excused for the summer while I studied, packed, shopped, and did homework. Priorities are priorities, after all.

But something happened tonight that made me realize my hiatus must end. A longtime Internet friend, the person who runs the Twitter account Black Republican, has decided to call it quits. I don’t know why; no reason was given, although right before the announcement there was a rant about a lack of viable candidates of color in the GOP. That may have something to do with their decision, but I can’t be sure. I wrote them an impassioned letter begging them to reverse their decision. They have not yet replied. I hope I can convince them to stay, but I’m not optimistic.

If their decision is permanent, then there is a void in serious political conversations among black conservative intellectuals of color on the Internet. I myself owe quite a lot to Black Republican: they regularly tweeted my articles when I was at The American Conservative and facilitated a media appearance on BBC radio earlier this spring. Their confidence in me and my work was inspiring and humbling. Writers don’t write for the acknowledgement, and glory in our line of work is rare, but it is nice to get appreciation and respect for what you do. It’s part of what makes the job worth it.

This absence doesn’t just affect black Twitter users; I’ve seen many white Twitter users respond positively to Black Republican and express appreciation for the work they do. Black Republican was a crucial voice that represented sensible, moderate Republican views on modern politics. I believe they have vastly underestimated their importance and influence, and it is my sincere hope they realize this. But maybe I’ve taken their presence for granted, and it is time for me to stand on my own two feet and start writing down the opinions that I often verbalize to friends and family. For a long time I felt that believing in your own opinions was arrogant. Now I see that there is a difference between arrogance and having the courage to follow your own convictions. I hope to do that with this blog.

I’ve had a lot of difficulty writing anything of substance since I left DC, but the summer is over now. There needs to be a conservative of color who writes about politics and policy and keeps the discussion going, and I must do my part. It won’t be perfect–won’t be perfect. I certainly can’t replace Black Republican, but I can certainly contribute to public discourse.

I don’t yet know how this plays out in practical terms regarding scheduling. I’m going to take the weekend to think it over and will post something on Monday with the details. Of course, my traveling and studies take precedent, but we must make time for the things that matter. And this matters.

Yours in (political) arms,

Marjorie