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We owe it to our children to combat Poverty and Racism in the United States

10 Jan

An older friend of mine who is in his 80’s once told me that he’d rather be wealthy and unhappy than poor and hungry. Then there is the old curse of racism.

Racism exists when one ethnic group dominates, excludes, or seeks to eliminate another ethnic group on the basis that it believes are hereditary and unalterable, and in history there is no end to examples of racism. To this day, examples of racism may be found in Europe, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, North American, etc.

For instance, the persecution and murder of millions of Jews by Hitler’s Nazis during World War II, and the list of ethnic cleansings can be traced back to 350 AD in ancient China when 200,000 people with racial characteristics such as high-bridged noses and bushy beards were slaughtered. The history of racism through ethnic cleansings is so long and brutal, it might make you sick to your stomach if you click on the link in this paragraph and scroll through the list.

In addition, a long history of racism exists for the United States. American natives, Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Black or African Americans, and even Whites have been victims of racism/discrimination. For Whites, the Mormons and Jews have faced persecution in the United States, and Smithsonian.com says,  “The idea that the United States has always been a bastion of religious freedom is reassuring—and utterly at odds with the historical record. … The real story of religion in America’s past is an often awkward, frequently embarrassing and occasionally bloody tale that most civics books and high-school texts either paper over or shunt to the side.”

The Chinese, for instance, are the only minority in the U.S. to have had national legislation passed that was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. It was called the Chinese Exclusion Act, and it was signed into law on May 6, 1882, and wouldn’t be repealed until 1943. In fact, Asian Americans have been denied equal rights, subjected to harassment and hostility had their rights revoked and imprisoned for no justifiable reason, physically attacked, and murdered.

The Latino community has also faced discrimination, and according to Pew Research.org, Latinos are the 2nd most discriminated against ethnic group after African-Americans. Sixty-one percent of Latinos say discrimination against Hispanics is a “major problem.”

For Black or African Americans, Pew Research.org reports that 88% of Blacks felt that there was discrimination against African Americans. Even 57% of Whites think that African Americans are discriminated against.

If you remember what I said in my first paragraph, you might have an idea of where I’m going with this, but don’t read me wrong. I think we must always be on guard and protest acts of racism and discrimination, but if history teaches us anything, we know that racism is always going to be around in one form or another, and I think it would be easier to face this curse in strength: educated, literate, and middle class or wealthy and not feeling helpless because of illiteracy, poverty and hunger.

In a previous post Suspensions and Expulsions in the US Public Schools—what does that 3.3 million really mean, it’s obvious that I failed to reach some readers with what I meant to say instead of what they thought I wrote. Some readers of that post became angry and some accused me of having racist tendencies, and then I was locked out and shunned by one group.

I haven’t changed my mind. I still think that poverty and/or single parent homes are the main culprit behind the number of suspensions and expulsions in the public schools, and I pointed this out and provided links to the research in my other post about suspensions and expulsions to support what I wrote.

While racism might be a factor in some of the suspensions and expulsions of Black or African-American children, there was no evidence that this was the case for Asian-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos—both minorities with a long history of being the victims of racism and discrimination—and even if it were true that some suspensions of Black or African Americans was motivated by racism, what could we do to identify individual cases and stop this unacceptable behavior?

CHART UPDATE with two more columns on Jan 10

But we can make an effort to reduce the suffering caused by poverty and illiteracy, and there are proven methods that work. For instance, a transparent, national, early childhood education program that would be managed by the democratic public schools where we’d have a better chance to keep an eye on these programs working with our youngest and neediest children to make sure racism, segregation and discrimination doesn’t rear its evil, horned face behind a wall of secrecy.

The foundation of a strong middle class is access to education for every child beginning in the first few years of life. Sadly, millions of children in this country are cut off from quality early learning. Children in countries as diverse as Mexico, France, and Singapore have a better chance of receiving preschool education than do children in the United States. For children in the U.S. who do attend, quality varies widely and access to high-quality programs is even more limited in low-income communities where it’s needed most.

We already know from decades of evidence that the education reform movement’s opaque and secretive corporate Charter schools are contributing to a resurgence of segregation. This is wrong, and it will lead to more racism and discrimination—instead of less.

If we bicker with each other over how many—difficult to prove and even harder to stop—suspensions of Black or African American children in the public schools is influenced by racism, we are allowing ourselves to get sidetracked from dealing with a challenge we can do something about, and that is to combat poverty and illiteracy.

Like my 80+ year-old friend said but with a revision to his thinking, “I’d rather face racism from a position of strength with an education, a high level of literacy and in the middle class instead of living in poverty, illiterate, feeling angry and powerless.”

UPDATE on 1-11-15

One more thing—looking at that chart, I have to ask this question: With the obvious racism and discrimination that Asian Americans faced and still face, how did they achieve those numbers beating out even the Whites in every column? In addition, the Asian-American unemployment rate is the lowest of all racial groups. The Asian American divorce rate by race is also the lowest at 8% while Whites are the highest at 27%, African Americans are 22% and Hispanics are 20%. There’s more I could add to this list, but that’s in another post I wrote at https://crazynormaltheclassroomexpose.com/2013/05/11/what-parenting-method-works-best/

  • In addition read this post on Marie Corfield’s blog about the segregationist practices of New Jersey’s Charter Schools.

UPDATE on 1-20-15

AARP Bulletin asked, “What can be done to make black youth less vulnerable and fully integrated into mainstream America?” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar replied, “The main problem is the reluctance to educate black Americans. Since the Civil War, people have been indifferent to it—including black Americans.”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Runner Up in Biography/Autobiography
2015 Florida Book Festival

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Honorable Mentions in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 New England Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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4 responses to “We owe it to our children to combat Poverty and Racism in the United States

  1. Marilyn Armstrong

    January 10, 2015 at 19:43

    Garry grew up in the 1940s and 1950s. Before equal rights. Before civil rights. He was often the first person of color to do whatever he was doing, wherever he was doing it. He has always felt that racism was less an obstacle than being deaf. It’s not that he denies the existence of racism. Far from it. But he has always believed he’d be judged on his merits, and for the most part, that was the way it was. His brother is actually more famous that Garry was (is). Two out of three in one family. He says it’s all about family and parental influence too.

     
    • Lloyd Lofthouse

      January 10, 2015 at 19:48

      I think readers of this Blog might want to visit Garry’s page at:

      http://teepee12.com/garry-armstrongs-wonderful-broadcast-life-by-roger-lyons/

      “His obstacles were many. Some might have said insurmountable. He was a painfully shy black man with a hearing problem, trying to break into major market radio and television in the ‘60’s. Yet Garry Armstrong went on to accomplish amazing things in his illustrious broadcast career.”

       
  2. Lloyd Lofthouse

    January 11, 2015 at 07:23

    Reblogged this on Lloyd Lofthouse and commented:

    Looking at that chart, I have to ask this question: With the obvious racism and discrimination that Asian Americans faced and still face in the United States, how did they achieve those numbers beating out even the Whites in every column? In addition, the Asian-American unemployment rate is the lowest of all racial groups. The Asian American divorce rate by race is also the lowest at 8% while Whites are the highest at 27%, African Americans are 22% and Hispanics are 20%. There’s more I could add to this list, but that’s in another post.

     

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