I moved to Florida from France when I was twenty six. One of my first order of business was to open a bank account. The local bank I visited had two posters in the entrance, advertising loans to finance houses. One poster had a smiling white family in front of a nice white picket fenced house. The other poster had a black family in front of a similar house. My thought was “why not save by having one poster with a mixed race couple?” We’re not in France anymore Alice…
To emphasize where I come from, consider Alexander Dumas, not the famous French writer but his father Thomas-Alexander Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, a genuine Marquis. He was half black. He also was a famous French general who commanded vast armies of white Frenchmen and was married to a white French woman. This was right before the 1789 French revolution. His son wrote “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers,” among other things.
Thomas-Alexander Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie
So wondering why that bank poster wasn’t picturing a black man, white woman and mixed kids in front of a white picket fenced house was a legitimate question for a Frenchman fresh off the boat. After twenty two years in the United States, I know better…
I am writing this today after the shooting in Dallas of eleven police officers, five fatalities so far and hopefully no more. Racial tensions in the United States are high, but racism is not new. Why such a big difference between Europe and America? Not that Europe is entirely void of any racism, considering the recent Islamic extremist attacks in Paris and Brussels, but Islam is not a race and most French people understand the difference. Racism however isn’t particularly directed at blacks.
What people don’t like is crime. The United States prison population is 37.7% black (BOP May 2016). The general population is 12% black (2015 Census). I would argue that poverty is the main cause of crime. Drive to MLK Boulevard in your city and have a look… Prisons are also big business and some people are getting richer every time some poor sod gets put in jail for smoking a joint. Still, the statistics can’t be denied.
Blacks are not especially poor in Europe. One of my good friends, both French and black is an airline pilot; not a co-pilot, but a captain on one of those giant airliners. He did well because his parents valued education. He valued education and worked hard to get his license, then jumped from poorly paid jobs to poorly paid jobs flying all kinds of planes, some you wouldn’t want to trust your life to, and finally reached the top. So, why are so many blacks in America selling crack on the street corners?
Before I continue I can already imagine some readers getting worked up here. The fact is, young black men have an image problem in America. The police is so afraid of them they will shot one at the slightest incident. Pervasive racism within law enforcement and to some extent, the white population doesn’t help. I don’t condone racism. Being racist is a sure sign of ignorance and close-mindedness, if not plain bigotry. I condemn racism from both sides, because it isn’t a one-way problem.
Today knowledge is widely available. The Internet is fraught with free courses, tutorial videos and free books you can reach with any computer or smart phone. Unfortunately education, to the young black man, isn’t cool. I don’t think the problem is new, otherwise there would be no black poverty in America, no black crimes and no racism. Poor whites are also as likely to commit crimes, so don’t call me a racist here. Education wasn’t available to the black population until fairly recently mind you, but the new generations are not taking advantage of its availability. I heard expressions such as “The white man’s game.” Unfortunately it’s not a game, it’s people’s lives. Science isn’t white, math isn’t white and money is green. The only way this problem will solve itself is if young black men pick up books and start reading, because they can do as well as anyone else. They should be able to do so without being made fun of by their parents, siblings and friends. I do not know the cause of this cultural pitfall, but it does exist. Just listen to music lyrics… What is extolled is easy money and material possessions. Excuse my French, but “shit doesn’t mean shit.” Better buy a bunch of books than a new flat screen television.
Blacks in America got a bad hand at the card table. Hell, they weren’t invited to the table until recently, but things are different now. America is one of the greatest country in the World because anyone willing to work hard can make it. Unfortunately not everyone believes it. The problem is that the government would rather give poor people hand outs in exchange for their votes instead of encouraging them to educate themselves. It’s easy to get used to stolen money falling in your lap, and I mean stolen by the government.
I wish I knew how to eliminate racism. I do believe education is the key, but education needs to be valued, it needs to be cool again. Otherwise the poor will stay poor, no matter what political party is reigning and there will be crime, violence and bigotry. How to encourage young people to educate themselves, I don’t know. Not by paying for their schooling, because a “free” education has little value. When I was in high school I didn’t learn much because I wasn’t paying for it and didn’t care. College was out of State tuition, and boy did I work hard. Yet the skills I use today to make a living I learned from books, not school. Some of my customers wouldn’t even know if I was black because all my work is online. What they know is that I can solve problems for them and my programs work. My first programming book cost me $50. That book is still feeding me fifteen years later.
Segregation still exists because people are more comfortable in their own communities, but it doesn’t help. We need to put the mixed couple on that poster. We need mixed churches. We need brown babies of all shades. It shouldn’t be forced on people. It should be encouraged. Where are the mixed couples in Hollywood movies? That is real racism, insidious, everywhere, yet not seen, until the bullets fly.