An improvement or a hindrance?

Published 10:32 pm Monday, July 24, 2017

By Joseph L. Bass

Too often, people concerned about social conditions focus on the symptoms of problems, instead of identifying and addressing the causes of the symptoms. They also focus on one situation at a time instead of looking for common patterns found in similar situations.

Issues associated with gangs, crime, violence, and minorities are examples.

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Gangs, crime, and violence associated with minorities have existed as social problems in the United States since the early 1800s. Before that time, the government and economy were controlled by the first immigrants, who mainly came from England, France and Germany. There were also black African slaves and a few freed blacks that were kept poor, uneducated and “in their place,” providing cheap labor for the wealthy.

Beginning in the early 1800s, issues associated with gangs, crime, violence and minorities first became a factor. These issues had their roots in Europe.

Although European nations were originally populated by Caucasians, each nation was based on a different ethnicity. These nations were at war with each other for hundreds of years, with each trying to conquer the other. And historically the winners made the losers their slaves.

This pattern also can be seen in the Old Testament with the Israelis being conquered and enslaved.

Each wave of new immigrants resulted in the development of gangs, crime and violence. These include the Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Asians and Hispanics.

Today, the condition of black Americans is very much like these groups, except blacks have been here all along. But they have been only recently freed from oppression through Supreme Court decisions, beginning with Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education in 1954.

Several things can be learned from studying common patterns associated with the immigration of new groups into our nation.

First, old groups saw the new groups as inferior humans. Contrary to Dr. King’s dream, the old group considers all members of the new groups as lazy, non-productive, criminal, intellectually limited and so on. This avoids the reality that a large percentage of each group is made up of law-abiding, smart, working citizens.

The negative behavior of a small percentage results in all being seen as “bad.” Most individuals arrive as free people, but they are poor and uneducated. Many continue to be poor, because they qualify only for low-paying jobs or members of the old group discriminate against them in hiring.

This pattern of conditions reflects Black Americans’ situation today except for one factor. Previously, minority groups struggled toward being self-reliant and achieving the American dream on their own. These groups worked themselves into being a part of the middle class, shedding the negative image.

There was no government welfare program like the one started in the 1960s.

Has this different approach been an improvement or a hindrance? From my point of view too many today are still kept poor, uneducated and “in their place,” providing cheap labor for the wealthy. Some think we are experiencing a New Jim Crow.

Should a new approach be reconsidered?

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at