The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Some REAL straight talk

Posted by Bill Nance on September 16, 2008

In case you haven’t noticed (and if so you must be blind and deaf) families in America are not doing too well. And no, I’m not talking about the eoconomy or jobs, which are problems as well, but not the subject at hand.

No, I’m talking about the fundamental building block of any society: the family.

At present, non-hispanic whites have a single parent rate of 23%. That’s roughly one quarter of white kids growing up in single parent households.

But among blacks, the number is a staggering 65%.

Sixty-five percent! Think about that number for a minute. That’s nearly two out of every three houses on your block managed by single parents if you’re in an all-black neighborhood.

The consequences of this disentigration are self-evident: higher school dropout trates, higher drug use, higher rates of crime and violence.

John McCain says he’s going to go to Washington and “reform” it. That’s the sum total of his plan, other than to tax your health-care benefits and give giant tax breaks to the top 5% of wealth-holders in the country.

But in a speech earlier this year, Barack Obama had some real straight talk, delivered to a nearly all-black audience, telling uncomfortable truths,  truths which Bill Cosby was castigated for saying not three years ago.

Obama criticized black parents for ignoring their filial obligations, for giving up on work and opportunity, for failure to set realistic, important goals for their children. One line I thought was particularly telling:

“You know, sometimes I’ll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there’s all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it’s just eighth grade. (emphasis mine) To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree too. An eighth-grade education doesn’t cut it today. Let’s give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!”

That’s common sense you might think, but it’s not common at all for many folks in this country.

Barack Obama went out and told the uncomfortable truth to people who didn’t want to hear it. To a community which is notorious for not self-policing it’s own members and in which having children out of wedlock with no second parent even present in a chid’s life is the rule, not the exception. And they loved him for it.

It takes guts to tell truth to power, and it takes even more to take people, voters, to task for their own failures.

Where has John McCain done such a thing? And even if he had, would anyone at all pay attention? A mumbling mention at an inauguration speech is hardly a comparison to an hour-long talk about the failures of your audience.

This is straight talk. It’s real straight talk. For Obama it’s the rule. For John McCain, it’s just a campaign slogan.


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