Suggestions for improving the inner city
Having given much thought to the situation in inner city, based on both what is known in the media and much of what I gathered from the experience of good friends who have lived there, I would like to make some suggestions. While I do not see this as panacea, I believe it has the possibility of achieving positive impact for many. And it is as follows:
Increasing interest among black people in business, banking and technical fields;
Setting up vocational training in inner city;
Setting up recruitment offices to direct young men who would otherwise join gangs into military service;
Doing away with the anti-educational youth culture;
Providing better guidance for the youth.
I will go through these one by one.
Business and Technical Fields
One part of the solution that I see is getting more black people interested in business, finance and technical professions. American black people have done very well in politics, law, sports and entertainment; but they are underrepresented in these fields. This results in black people remaining poor on the average even in spite of great successes by individual black people in America.
There was a job flight in 1980s out of the inner city as businesses moved their production centers overseas. This led to many not being able to find jobs; but ultimately the question becomes, Why rely on white man to create employment? A white businessman will only set up shop in a black neighborhood for as long as that is convenient for him, and will go elsewhere, taking the profits with him, when there is a more commercially attractive option. The only way to make sure that the money stays is to be in charge of the money as the financier or as the entrepreneur.
In a 1990s film "Falling Down," there is a scene in which a black man is demonstrating outside of the bank after the bankers have told him that he is "not economically viable." There is a real way to avoid this kind of scene. Black people should be learning business and finance, and they should be setting up shop and creating jobs instead of competing for them. And that requires black people to themselves learn business and finance and practice it at a level appropriate to their share of the population.
After the fall of apartheid in South Africa, there were not enough qualified black businesspeople to take over the running of the companies that had prior to that been managed by white businesspeople. The reason was this: The anti-apartheid leaders were socialists, and they did not favorably look upon capitalist system. The people now do not need to make the same decision. The businessperson is the person who creates jobs while providing something that people want to buy. And that means that business can be a worthwhile and even noble endeavor when it provides a way for one's people to escape poverty.
As for technical skills, these are always in demand, and someone who has them is far less likely to be economically nonviable. If enough black people learn engineering, computers, and related technology skills, then they will be competitive, in highly-paid fields, and will be able to get good jobs in different economic conditions. On the collective level, this will improve the mean income of black Americans and help many to rise out of poverty and to stay out of poverty.
Vocational Training in Inner City
For people for whom engineering and business are not feasible options, there should be training in more basic marketable skills. Professions like electrician, auto mechanic, carpenter, construction worker, nurse, secretarial, and bus or truck driver, can provide marketable employment for many people who otherwise would wind up dead or in prison. And while the industrial jobs that have left America can be considered as gone forever, these jobs are always in demand.
Setting up vocational training in inner city can be done both through private and public initiatives. In either case, the economic benefit affectuated will vastly exceed the investment. Not only will these people earn income and become tax-payers, but they will also stay out of the prison system. The first will contribute to the economy and to the treasury. The second will reduce the costs to the taxpayer of keeping these people in jail.
Setting Up Military Recruitment Offices In Inner City
The inner city has many young men who aspire toward strength and toughness. The military cultivates strength and toughness; it also disciplines it. The same macho character that in the ghetto turns into gang violence, the military structures into controlled, principled strength that knows how to fight well enough to know also when not to fight. The inner city youths would be influenced by the military into not only being the strong men that they want to be, but also self-controlled, disciplined, effective strong men who can both manage their behavior and exercise positive effect on their community.
The military has college scholarships, job skills training, and in case of an honorable discharge a recommendation that can take one to many places. To people in the inner city, that spells a ticket to better life. The habits that are taught in the military help make a person more effective and more employable. The black people who've been in the American military have done well - in many cases exceptionally well, going as far as to becoming the Secretary of State.
With military training and scholarships and references, the person from inner city will have everything that he needs to be able to pursue a better way of life. He will also have what he yearns for the most - respect and honor. And that will be just as good for these people as it will be for America.
A person from the inner city who goes to the military can then go on to pursue a middle-class or upper-class life outside the inner city; or, should he return to the inner city, stands to become a force for improvement of the inner city. With military training he would be able to stand up to the gangsters; with principles he would be able to steer them toward superior actions. A person with disciplined strength will be able to not only stand up to people with undisciplined strength, but to steer them away from destructiveness and toward more responsible conduct - which is something that someone lacking either in strength or in discipline will find a lot harder to do.
There are of course downsides to the military. The military is tough and brutal; however the inner city is also tough and brutal, and having lived in daily brutality the people from inner city would have an advantage of experience over other recruits. The people who serve in the military are at a risk of dying in combat; however the inner city is a war zone already, and one stands a greater risk of being killed or imprisoned for life if one remains there than if one joins the military. Most people who go into the military never see combat, whereas the people who live in the inner city are facing daily conditions of war.
For these reasons, for many residents of inner city, the military would be a major improvement over what they otherwise would be facing. And that - creating improvement over people's present condition, rather than expecting everything to be immediately equal - is the standpoint for constructive, workable social policy. Sweatshop labor would not be an improvement for most American citizens, but for hundreds of millions of Chinese people it has been a huge improvement over their previous lives. Similarly, joining the military would not be an improvement for everyone in America; but for many inner city residents, it very much will be.
So that, when Beyonce says that she needs a soldier (rather than a gangster), she is speaking a home truth. The army people are not angels, but they do develop useful skills, habits and mindsets, and are more likely to work and to stay with the family and to teach the children to be effective individuals. And while Beyonce stands to expect the military person to be just as domineering as she would expect the gangster to be, he would be a better influence on the children and will be more likely to keep them on a more viable path. In addition, the military also accepts women as recruits; and women who want to be as strong and tough as the men have by joining the military the opportunity to become so.
Finally, there are enough black officers in the military that those who don't want to take orders from the white man would be able to take orders from a black one. And with a black person being the president of the United States, the claim that they would be serving "the Man" is not as credible as it once was. Volunteering for the professional army would be, for a person in inner city, a ticket to a better life for himself and a path toward improving the lot of the inner city residents. I recommend stepping up military recruitment in inner city as a path toward improvement of the inner city and of the lives of its residents.
The anti-education culture
Finally, there is a cultural problem that apparently is shared between the inner city and the population known commonly as "white trash." This is as follows: Total lack of respect for education. While the failure of inner-city schools is frequently blamed on their lack of funding, in fact that is not the case. The DC schools, for one, have high funding levels compared to schools in many other places. The problem is that the students do not want to learn, and those who do get savagely attacked for it by other students and frequently by their families.
It must be made clear that the students who take studies seriously are not "acting white" or "think they're better than everyone else." It is not acting white to study; it is acting intelligent to study; and Asians for one, not being white, are frequently better at it than white Americans. As for the "think they're better than everyone else" line, the world consists of 7 billion people, most of them nothing like the people who ridiculously believe they are "everyone else" and that the other 7 billion people aren't; and for these people to claim that they speak for "everyone else" is a far greater arrogance than any of which they may be accusing the serious students. And from the perspective of most in the world, it is the people such as ones who believe such things - and, pursuant such beliefs, create a culture of brutality and stupidity - that are held in most contempt, and not those students in inner city who take studies seriously, have respect for knowledge, and want to have a better life than that of drugs and crime.
Money spent on inner-city schools is money wasted unless the children actually want to learn. There must be a profound cultural change among inner city youth for education there to be effective. Having seen black people do exceptionally well in highly demanding learning environments such as the Moscow State University, America's prime universities, and America's most exclusive schools, I can say with full certainty that there is nothing keeping black kids from doing well at school except for bad attitudes and bad beliefs.
The more black youth do well at school, the more they will be able to go into middle-income and higher-income economy. Also, the more the educational system will work for them, and the more the schools of the inner city will be a success rather than a failure that they are now. With more respect for education, the black people will be able to achieve a higher intellectual standard and be able to achieve in such fields as science, mathematics, and medicine. This will give black people more presence in these fields - fields in which they likewise are under-represented at this time. The more black people win Nobel Prizes in science or pioneer great inventions, the more respected and internationally powerful the black people will be.
The anti-intellectual youth culture must go. Nothing good has come from it, and it is a disgrace to every race - black, white or Latino - which it infests. Smart must be cool, and knowledge and ambition must be respected and cultivated. This is the only way that the youth can avoid falling into the underclass and have a fighting chance at a better life.
Finally, there is the problem of coercion among the youth toward gang involvement, drug use, and pregnancy as minors. The males end up in the prison or shot; the females end up working exceptionally hard to raise the children alone. There are those who think that the solution to this is "traditional values"; but the traditional societies of Afghanistan, rural India, central Africa and Middle East aren't better than inner city, they are worse than the inner city. The real solution to this is better direction for the youth.
The better direction comes from taking the interests and propensities and directing them toward a positive manifestation. Thus, the desire to be strong and tough can and should be directed toward military, where the recruits become disciplined and effective strong and tough men with the skills and the habits they need to be effective and to improve their communities. The desire to have money or status or power can and should be directed toward business and technical fields, where these are constructively earned. The desire to be validated as a woman, rather than having to express itself through teenage pregnancy, can be directed to artistic pursuits, to professional fields that give the woman admiration, and to more wholesome, loving relationships that provide better soil for nurturing the young. And the competitive interest can be directed toward achieving in school and then later in the economy - in so doing gaining merit for oneself and for one’s race and one’s people - rather than into shooting the next black man and raping the next black woman.
The inner city youth does not suffer from lack of talent. It suffers from lack of direction, bad guidance, and self-defeating beliefs. It is this problem that must be addressed for the situation in inner city to improve significantly. I fully believe that this improvement is possible.