Friday, March 12, 2010

Vanessa Jean Louis OP-ED: Shifting Values: Another perspective on the Black-White Test Gap

By Vanessa Jean Louis

I recently attended the “Black Forum: State of Black America” at the Women’s Republican club in Manhattan. There were many notable panelists including Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Charles Payne, and Tara Dowdell.

Many topics were discussed including a lack of paternal presence in the Black home, disproportionate crime rates, and educational achievement gaps between Blacks and Whites. Fortunately, the counterproductive nature of the black monolithic vote was also discussed.Charles Payne, a notable Conservative, was of the persuasion that at the epicenter of the issues in the Black community is a lack of married mothers and fathers having children (i.e. “broken homes argument”). Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a Liberal, opined that the real problem is a lack of adequate funding.Ah…the proverbial pull between the ideological “left” and “right” (at its best)!
I’ve worked in the inner city school as a Counselor (Guidance, and Behavioral) for the last several years.

Although well-intentioned, I can honestly tell you that neither position wholly encapsulates the real reasons why black-white standardized testing disparities exist. The conservative position seems plausible until one does research and finds that even in Black affluent and middle class “two-parent” homes, on average, Black students still lag behind Whites, Hispanics, and Native Americans. The typical liberal “inadequate funding” rhetoric can also be dismissed early because there is more money being spent on education per capita in some of the worst inner city school systems in the United States with very little-if any results.

So…here’s the Afroconservative’s theory on why the “gaps” exist…

Our values are warped. Educational attainment is lauded superficially by “us”, but it’s NO LONGER a congenital part of the “Black life”. In other words, you made it out the hood and you’re making x amount of dollars-but you’re not valued. Teachers, Doctors, Nurses, and Investment Analysts should be just as important-if not more important than Basketball players, Rappers, Singers, and Producers. You hear me B.E.T.?

The unsung heroes of Black Progress need attention too.

It seems to me that those icons who get the most attention are the ones who glorify materialism and nihilistic lifestyles. 50 cent does a great job rapping about “thug life” but most of my students don’t know that he and many other “thug life rappers” invest their monies in venture capitalist firms. It seems as though the only people who get “love” from “us” are the entertainers and now Obama (superficially). Many of us will sell out a stadium for a Jay-Z performance, but refuse to fill community centers with forums that teach “us”about “silver rights” (financial literacy).

Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglas, and Booker T. Washington are as much a part of our collective psyche as cartoon superheroes who fight crime. The “Did you know that there was a time when Black People weren’t allowed to read or write..?” message has become so hackneyed. Trust me, I’ve tried it a million times on my students. Sadly, most Black people today lack consciousness, and are disconnected from the very real historical plights confronted by those who paved the way for the foolishness we see today.

Conservatives and Liberals need to realize that we can’t legislate mores (values).
Urban Conservatives need to be in the trenches with the Liberals and present our case for urban renewal-instead of sitting back repeating what we hear from right-wing establishment ideologues. We’re working on a counterculture which will put community policing, education, faith, and silver rights (financial literacy) at the forefront of a tired dialogue about Black “problems”.

By the way, this revolution won’t be televised.

~Vanessa Jean Louis
better known as the “afroconservative”, has been working in the inner city as a school counselor for the last several years.She is a self-described “urban conservative” who believes in strong families, school choice vouchers, and fiscal policies that help lift people out of poverty-not perpetuate deleterious cycles of government dependence. Vanessa holds a Master’s degree in Counseling but she is currently working towards a second Master’s Degree in Political Economy.

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