What do the Miami Dolphins and eighth graders that can't read in Wisconsin have in common? You wouldn't think very much, but they both provide an interesting insight into the culture of failure that continues to spread in African-Americans.
For those of you not familiar with the Dolphins situation, offensive lineman Jonathan Martin--who is black, and who attended Stanford University--left the team two weeks ago alleging verbal mistreatment and bullying by his teammates. The team suspended Pro-Bowl lineman Richie Incognito--who is white, and was kicked out of two, less academically honored institutions--for being the leader of the alleged bullying. Since then, text messages have been released showing Incognito called Martin the "N-word" repeatedly and threatened to beat him up or kill him. What has shocked many people outside the locker room is that African-American teammates have come to Incognito's defense--and have played Martin as the source of the trouble.
The single most-powerful perspective piece that I have read so far on the mistreatment of Martin and the defense of Incognito by his teammates comes from Jason Whitlock of ESPN--himself an African-American:
I'm black. And I totally understand the genesis of this particular brand
of stupidity and self-hatred. Mass Incarceration, its bastard child, Hurricane Illegitimacy,
and their marketing firm, commercial hip-hop music, have created a
culture that perpetrates the idea that authentic blackness is criminal,
savage, uneducated and irresponsible. The tenets of white supremacy and
bigotry have been injected into popular youth culture. The blackest
things a black man can do are loudly spew the N-word publicly and react
violently to the slightest sign of disrespect or disagreement.
Whitlock's words ring in my ears as I read about Democratic state lawmakers blaming Governor Walker and Republicans for African-American eighth-graders having the worst reading scores in the nation. They seem to forget that the kids who did so poorly on those tests last spring are the same kids that grew up with Head Start, attended 4-year old kindergarten, went to full-day 5-year old kindergarten, were sent home with books their parents could read to them, had an elementary school Reading Specialist, had a middle school Reading Specialist, were given remedial reading courses, were "taught to the test" while "not being left behind", got free breakfast at school, got free lunch at school, got meals at school even during the summer, and joined after-school "safe haven programs". And yet, they are still the worst readers in the country--dooming them to failure in pretty much every other subject in school.
So, we have to ask ourselves, is it really a lack of government spending that is sending our African-American neighbors farther and farther down this path? Or is Jason Whitlock sounding the Sirens' call as to what is really going on in his own community?