Thoughts on that later on Monday...
Later: I'll quote from Disintegration. The author, Eugene Robinson, said:
"Instead of one black America, now there are four:
- a Mainstream middle-class majority with a full ownership stake in American society.
- a large, Abandoned minority with less hope of escaping poverty and dysfunction than at any time since Reconstruction's crushing end.
- a small Transcendent elite with such enormous wealth, power, and influence that even white folks have to genuflect.
- two newly Emergent groups -- individuals of mixed-race heritage and communities of recent black immigrants -- that make us wonder what 'black' is even supposed to mean."
Not to spoil it, but he advocated a war on poverty for the Abandoned. I remember volunteering at an after-school program at the high school in Chester, Pennsylvania. Those students were there because they or their parents wanted them to be. Still, the city of Chester has a huge percentage of the Abandoned. The school district ranked 52nd out of 52 on achievement standards for school districts. There are a lot of Abandoned people in parts of Philadelphia and Baltimore, of cities I get to every so often.
Mr. Robinson said that the Transcendent and Mainstream made efforts to give back, but that individual efforts could only do so much. He said there were still many people who remembered the Jim Crow South, the segregation. I'm quite well aware that there's still a lot of racism in the U.S. None of what he said about that surprised me. I thought there was more than what he talked about in the book, but I guess you can only say so much in a book that is looking at a number of aspects of American culture.
There was a lot of hope in the book, too. I don't think white Americans hear too much about the successes of the Mainstream. It doesn't make for news the way poverty and crime make for news. Most white Americans are at least distantly aware of what's going on with the Abandoned, but many don't care. I was surprised that immigrants or their children were doing so well. I knew the population of biracial and multiracial people in the U.S. was growing.
The surprises for me were of the positive news. I'm not sure what that says, except perhaps I had thought more of the Mainstream as having individual successes, and had heard more about the Abandoned. It wasn't a book designed to make people feel good, but I was not surprised to hear of the problems and happy to hear of the successes.