I read with interest Linda Turley-Hansen’s Guest Commentary of Sept. 6 (“Not racism, and not guns; it’s moral absence that’s doing the killing”), as well as the response it generated in your Sept. 15 edition (“Local African-American males speak out”).

The four respondents’ recounting of their concerns and experiences in a predominantly-white society is poignant, and their success in spite of the daily challenges they face is admirable and worthy of emulation.

That said and, to paraphrase Shakespeare, methinks the gentlemen doth protest too much. In her commentary, Turley-Hansen accurately points out the statistical reality of out-of-wedlock births and life-success in two-parent vs. one-parent households. A blame-the-messenger mentality that mirrors that of several of our nation’s most prominent black leaders illustrates why the dismal status-quo persists. One may call Turley-Hansen a racist on those two points — but he does so at the risk of his own credibility.

When potential solutions to statistical reality are suggested by whites, the inevitable default charge is racism. And when those same potential solutions are proffered by blacks — see Thomas Sowell, Star Parker, Walter Williams — the well-reasoned, tough-love perspectives are completely ignored or, worse, dismissed as Uncle Tom-speak. Either way, potential solutions to very real problems are never addressed by those in position to do so. And the generational decline persists. 

Bill Cosby imploring today’s youth to dress appropriately, speak proper English and meet the challenge of personal responsibility equates to turning on his own community? High — indeed, some would say basic — standards of comportment generally equate to success in life regardless of community. Some, indeed many, would also say that Cosby should be applauded for refusing to accept what he views as negative community-cultural influences, and for having the courage to speak out against the dreary status-quo. 

Clearly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to complex societal ills. But it is infinitely harder to address systemic issues and advocate for positive action in the hope of reversing overwhelmingly-negative trends through realistic solutions, than it is to simply dismiss on-point suggestions outright. Blaming the messenger while ignoring the message does a grave disservice to those who stand to benefit the most from a more introspective approach.

Was Turley-Hansen the most appropriate and qualified person to raise the issues that she did? Probably not. But absent those deemed to be much more qualified by the four respondents stepping up and acknowledging some very harsh realities, she will have to do. The statistics to which Turley-Hansen alludes remain a tragic and inconvenient fact. Deemed to be qualified or not, they convincingly speak for themselves.

• Marty Gibson is a local history writer. Contact him at mgibson24@cox.net.

(4) comments

Chet

Turley-Hanson cherry picks her "facts" and ignores history to validate her racist views.

As do you, sir. Here's an example of something you both leave out:

http://healthland.time.com/2011/11/07/study-whites-more-likely-to-abuse-drugs-than-blacks/

What a thing for a bunch of white people living in All-White-Tukee to worry about.

If you have not actually studied the issue, meaning you have actually made a study of the issue, reads dozens of books, studied history, both past and recent, you are not qualified to speak on this issue.

Please, stop publishing your racism and ignorance, it's embarrassing.

rick3390

Great well written piece. Of the overwhelming statistics Chet finds one that is most likely a geography lesson.

Chet

Turley-Hanson's "facts" are actually symptoms. They are the result of decades of institutional racism in America.

White are more likely to do drugs than blacks, yet 1 out of 3 black men have a criminal record. We let the white kids go and go after the blacks, and then give them longer sentences on average.

The result is millions of men who can't get good jobs, while the privileged white kids live nice middle class lives. It's a major cause for problems with black families.

Turley-Hanson ignores this, but the rest of the country is actively discussing it, including Tea Party favorite Rand Paul. But not Turley-Hanson or this guy.

Every time a black person looks at a dollar bill they see a slave owner, and the White House was built with slave labor. The history of slavery in America is not hidden, and decades of institutional racism is the problem.

I suggest this writer and Turley-Hanson either dig deeper into the issue or stop posting their ignorance.

rick3390

Chet you say "Every time a black person looks at a dollar bill they see a slave owner, and the White House was built with slave labor..." and I tell you that this is the very reason color is even a topic. With this reasoning every time a black person looks at a globe or a history book they would see slavery. Slavery is almost 4000 years old and has existed in almost every society at one time or another. It does not exist here now and has not for over 130 years, that's over 6 generations. If what blacks really see on a one dollar bill is a slave owner then I can only say it is time for the black people to get over it and start seeing a way to be financially successful. Feeling sorry for themselves over something that happened over 100 years ago seems like a waste of time.

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