In 2015, I researched a story about inner-city struggle: the conditions and the residents who suffer within, the organizations that help them, and the blended liberal/conservative philosophy that makes them so successful.
What I found is that if we want to help the inner-city communities, we need to support these organizations that recognize “that both empathetic liberal ideas and tough-love conservative ideas can be assets. The approaches can complement, not compete with, one another.”
Today, that story is published in the Star Tribune. Here is the introduction and then the link to the full piece:
I suppose I may be like a lot of white Minnesotans. I’m troubled in two quite different ways by the belief — plainly widespread among African-Americans and others — that systemic racism is the overwhelming cause for disparities between blacks and whites in this country in education, employment, income, incarceration, health and more.
I’m troubled, first, by the reality of this mistreatment.
But I’m also troubled by the nagging suspicion that racism and “the system” aren’t the whole story. In my case, experiences working in education have deepened that suspicion.
I have taught African-American adolescents in north Minneapolis. I have taught teenagers in East Africa and China. I currently work with young people from the Hmong and Karenni communities in a charter school in St. Paul.
I can’t help recalling many of my black north Minneapolis students refusing to do assignments, swearing at me, walking out of the classroom, arguing, throwing calculators around the class. Two eighth-grade boys already had criminal records, and each wore a location-monitoring ankle bracelet. One had punched out a neighborhood kid and had stolen his bike.
Meanwhile, many of these students’ parents offered little support, to them or to me.
I don’t live in these students’ neighborhoods. I know I can’t fully understand the systemic factors shaping their behaviors. But none of that means other factors, beyond the system, aren’t relevant — and necessary to address if we want to see less suffering in the inner city.
So over many months, I searched for people who are in the neighborhoods and who do understand — and who still are addressing more than one side of the problem….
Read the rest of the story here.