Monday, March 27, 2006

What I'm saying: the struggle against thug culture

A growing number of black intellectuals are addressing the issue of thug/hip-hop culture and violence in black communities. Orlando Patterson is the latest to do so, with a fine op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times. As on other important city issues, San Francisco progressives are kidding themselves if they really think that, for example, Supervisor Maxwell's Select Committee on Ending Gun and Gang Violence---or Proposition A on the June ballot---is going to solve the black-on-black gun violence that plagues the city's black neighborhoods. Ditto for Mayor Newsom's plan to hire a lot more cops. We can put a cop on every corner of the city, and that still won't seriously impact the problem as long as young black men think it's acceptable---even cool---to shoot each other for trivial reasons.

Patterson locates the issue and suggests a plausible answer:

So what are some of the cultural factors that explain the sorry state of young black men? They aren't always obvious...What sociologists call the "cool-pose culture" of young black men was simply too gratifying to give up. For these young men, it was almost like a drug, hanging out on the street after school, shopping and dressing sharply, sexual conquests, party drugs, hip-hop music and culture...Not only was living this subculture immensely fulfilling, it also brought them a great deal of respect from white youths.

Patterson correctly points out that this self-destructive cultural trap

...has powerful support from some of America's largest corporations. Hip-hop, professional basketball and homeboy fashions are as American as cherry pie. Young white Americans are very much into these things, but selectively; they know when it is time to turn off Fifty Cent and get out the SAT prep book.

Black-on-black gun violence is not just a San Francisco problem; it's part of a nationwide---even international---cultural problem. Yet SF's political leadership has yet to even mention this crucial aspect of its gun violence problem.

See also John McWorter

And Cynthia Tucker

Even in Canada

And my widely ignored blog post from a year ago.

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