Quote Originally Posted by SaintLouieWoman View Post
I understand where you're coming from. I see the little kids of all races coming in their school groups to the aquarium where we volunteer. Their bright, shiny little faces are eager to learn and many already know so many facts about the dolphins. Sometimes I wonder how long it will take before those more grown up faces will appear in the local news.

It's a puzzle what to do to keep them on the right track and to not turn into thugs. I saw enough thugs in St Louis when I went about my job selling office equipment to the feds and to local governments. I saw first hand when I went into the prison, with many of the friends of the "residents" waiting on the steps outside. I was lucky that I wasn't mugged in all the years when I went into some pretty scary places.

Our society needs to prevent somehow the kids going from the sweet litle ones, eager to learn, into the gangster wannabes. This isn't necessarily race specific. I had taught in a school immediately after graduating from college with all whites. It was scary, lots of knives in school, stealing the teachers' cars, etc. With these kids, too, it all boiled down to a lack of parental involvement.
The first article I recall addressing the switch from normal kids eager to learn to the sullen and underperforming black male child pegged the transition to third or fourth grade. Thinking back to my own experience in third and fourth grade, this was an age where I started to experience a perceptual shift with some of my classmates or friends. I did not feel any pressure to emulate "classic male behavior" perhaps because my father wasn't a dumb stump who sat around talking about baseball all day. He was literally a rocket scientist and a boat builder and the time I spent with him was participatory, not spectator.

Regardless of my value judgements about their interests, I can't recall any of my classmates admiring criminals or criminality. Perhaps that's because our families were held to standards of respectability. Christianity may teach forgiveness, but a small Christian town can be very unforgiving, especially when there is "an order to things" and disrespect for that order can cost you your standing for the rest of your life. We really did believe that anything bad would follow you the rest of your days, even if "anything" is a bit broad. Of course that's where expectations come in. If you expect to succeed, and your success is contingent upon social acceptance, then you tend to obey the rules (as much as anyone does).

That's why the pattern of the black community is so hard to break. When you don't expect to succeed, then you don't have to follow the rules. When you will be accepted even if you have done something criminal, because your community blames your choices on oppression rather than self, then you don't fear being shunned. If you live in a big city where you can burn lots of bridges before you run out of bridges, then you don't worry too much about burning bridges. If your parents, relations, and social contacts are people who have low standards, then you will have low standards. It takes a very strong and independent person to break out of that. I don't know that I would, what with the comfort of the familiar in play.