Pondering that, I dove into a couple of popular sites this morning West Oakland folks might visit and wandered through the comment threads. A few months ago, I did deep dives through similar Twitter streams. All of them were full of racism, sexual crudeness and explicit calls for violence. You couldn't read them and come to the conclusion that they were making much of an effort to succeed in a traditional way.
It didn't hit me then, but those data points all make sense under my new hypothesis. They are not trying to achieve the same things as their progressive betters. They can't be. It's too easy to accomplish the basic goals required to excel in America to fail in such huge numbers.
Baltimore was another tip-off.
High school students are tested by the state in math and English. Their scores place them in one of five categories – a four or five is considered proficient and one through three are not. At Frederick Douglass (where Navon goes to school), 185 students took the state math test last year and 89 percent fell into the lowest level. Just one student approached expectations and scored a three.I know kids with learning disabilities who also come from bad situations who were able to score 4s. To only get a 1 on these tests means that for all of the years you were in school, for whatever reason, you weren't even trying. Yes, I know, there will always be some with such severe conditions, they will fail utterly, but 89%? That's not a red flag, it's 20 red flags and 18 submarine klaxons with 6 skywriters.
I read Charles Murray's Coming Apart and thought I understood it. I didn't. The divide is way wider than I thought. Most of us, we don't inhabit each others' worlds at all. I blogged about this video before, but I get it much better now. Sherriff David Clarke is one of those few people who have feet in both worlds. He's frustrated that those of us in the suburbs with college educations and plans to see our children succeed can't see what's happening outside of our bubbles.
I thought I had a better handle on it than most because of the charity work that I've done. I was fooling myself. I'm sure my Cursillo brothers who work in the prisons are much, much closer to that reality than I am. I'll have to run this idea past them and see what they think.
In any case, it's pointless to try and smooth a path for someone who has no intention of taking it.