I Wasn't Invited to the Talk-About-Race Deal. Good. I Didn't Want to Be. So There!

Categories: Schutze

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Saturday at 10 a.m. at the City Performance Hall on Flora Street, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, City Council member Dwaine Caraway and Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia will host an event called "Conversations About Race," in which I was not invited to participate. Well how do you like that?

I kind of do. Since 1986 when I published a book about race in Dallas called The Accommodation, long out of print, out of date, marginally relevant and only available at prices that are way not worth it, I have been invited to speak or take part in every single talk-about-race deal that has taken place in Dallas.

donhillprayervigil1-thumb-240x240.jpg
Dallas Observer
Bribes, yeah, those helped send Don Hill (second from right) to prison, but also a wrong-headed vision of race in Dallas.

Believe me, over that span of time it was a bunch. This was in spite of what I sensed was a growing opinion in both my audiences and myself that I didn't really have anything to say that anybody wanted to hear. If this is it for me, if I am now officially out of the talk-about-race loop, it comes not a day too soon.

I can tell you what people do like to hear. The Dallas Morning News has a dose of it on its op-wed page today in an essay by Kevin Moriarty, artistic director of the Dallas Theater Center, who is probably a very nice guy whom I don't know, positing the absolutely absurd notion that the 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, currently showing at his theater, has something important to say to Dallas in 2013, more than a half century after its first staging.

The play is about the bitter struggle of a black family to buy a house in a white neighborhood where black people have never lived before. It's a basic narrative people are comfortable talking about now because it's an exercise in harmless and painless nostalgia. We are at a point in history now where any black family with the money can buy a house in any neighborhood it wants to, and, in fact, that's exactly what it needs to do if the family hopes to endow its children with a better future.

Get out of South Dallas. Forget South Dallas. Find the way to Plano.

I feel for councilman Caraway, because I believe his heart is deeply and sincerely invested in the cluster of historically segregated African-American neighborhoods often lumped together under the geographically imprecise moniker of "South Dallas." But the real challenge black people in South Dallas face today is not white people. It's South Dallas.

In the last year a host of studies have confirmed what has always been my own central hunch and argument about segregated black communities in general and South Dallas in particular. Nothing good, only evil and misery, come from segregation. If the gates that have held people in are now open -- and they are -- the best thing they can do is walk out. But like the long-caged lion, South Dallas often fears freedom and finds comfort in its confines.

In the sordid and bitter saga of former City Council member Don Hill, sentenced to 18 years in prison three years ago for taking bribes from housing developers, the play within a play was corruption surrounding efforts to build more and more publicly subsidized housing in already majority minority neighborhoods in South Dallas. Hill was using his vote on the council to take federal money intended to reduce segregation and use it instead to put down even deeper roots for segregation in places that were already and had always been segregated.

Two months ago The New York Times discussed yet another study confirming that all-black and majority black neighborhoods are literally prison zones for back children, while the nation's less segregated areas seem to allow black families to achieve significant upward mobility.

This is absolutely not to say that we live in some kind of "post racial" society because the president is black. We still confront a very significant gap between black and white mobility that cannot be explained without reference to race. A Pew Center study found last year that upward mobility for children raised in white middle class homes is still twice that of children raised in black middle class homes.

But the Pew study can't be taken as a final answer or nail in the coffin for black upward mobility. Other new studies show that racial mobility gaps are greatly reduced and even eliminated when black families remove themselves from the culture of the old neighborhood, get educated and don't have babies early. What is true for black people is true for white people, Latinos, people-people, everybody: The factors that drive upward mobility are inside, not outside.

It's not housing. It's not subsidized retail in a place where real retail cannot survive. The things that eliminate racially measured economic and social gaps are education, not having babies early and out of wedlock and moving away from crime, both physically and morally.

The basic model of a racially monochrome neighborhood does not come from anything good. It is not a legacy of pride. It is a legacy of racial segregation. And segregation is always bad in the long run.

Here's what I found from my years of taking part in talk-about-race deals. They don't do any good. Something about race simply eludes verbal exposition. Race isn't a philosophy. It's mental astigmatism, a distortion of the glorious reality that is our sameness, our absolute and fundamental equality as human beings.

I don't know why, but you just can't talk your way out of racism. You have to live your way out of it by working together, refereeing your kids' fights and sleep-overs, hugging through your shared heartaches and victories, touching, seeing, feeling each other's shared humanity. You have to live next door to each other, not across the river.

That's not the story of Raisin in the Sun. If there is a white person alive who still goes to see Raisin in order to get black people, he needs to give up, go home and, every little chance he gets, stay quiet.

The real issues of race today are much tougher than the old ones, because today's issues are not legal or political. They are moral and psychological. When's the last time you really wanted to talk to people you don't know about that stuff (please do not answer if you are a member of the clergy or a mental health professional)?

As for the talk-about-race deal this weekend? Go ahead, call it sour grapes because I wasn't invited. I know that's what it looks like. But I know another thing, too. I can guarantee it better than a Mens Wearhouse two-fer: none of what I talked about here will be talked about Saturday at the race thing. Meanwhile during that time I will be cleaning out my wife's chicken coop, which I consider to be a productive activity -- well, more productive than talking about racial issues from the middle of the previous century.

So there. See. My feelings are not hurt at all.

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74 comments
tbarker1
tbarker1

Jim,  well done article. This discussion continues to be shunted aside.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

You're right, we keep making the same mistakes over and over. In 20 years Jim will be bitching about the Latino patronage system.

AtoZ
AtoZ

Trying to follow your arguments.  Two questions I hope you might take the time to respond to:

1.  If the path to better circumstances for a black family is to move away from South Dallas, is the end result of that vision a completely empty South Dallas?  Is every human being supposed to move away from there?  Or just a certain few, or what?  I'm trying to get to the logical conclusion of your proposal.  Say three families live in South Dallas, family A, B, and C.  They're all friends.  Each family is interested in a better lot in life for their kids and their descendants.  Does family A move, and say to heck with families B and C?  Do all three families move?  If so, do they have to spread themselves out into "whiter" society, or can all three families move onto the same block?  If they did move onto the same block, would that defeat your purpose?  And when they leave South Dallas, who exactly are the undesirables they're moving away from?  Are families D, E, and F beyond hope?  Who decides that they are?  What if D, E, and F, troubled as they are, are now technically the most promising families in South Dallas, in view of the fact that A, B & C are gone?  Shouldn't they get to move next?  And so on, and so on.  I guess what I'm saying is that the end result of your logic appears to be that everyone deserves to move away.  But if everyone moves away, that means the "bad element" or whatever it is they're presumably moving away from, has also moved away, with them.  So how can it end up any better for anyone?  Does South Dallas end up empty?  Or, alternatively, do you envision a South Dallas that remains populated by the worst possible candidates for betterment?  (If the latter, what's to become of them?)  I'll leave off any discussion on the third possible conclusion, because surely you're not suggesting black people simply need to be dispersed, per se, for their own good.  (Right?)

2.  I think anyone should be able to live wherever they want to live, and can afford to live.  There are four different skin colors on my block.  But what about people who might just prefer living around folks who look like they do?  Hasn't much of human history found people naturally gathered in groups of similarity (not that that, in and of itself, has a moral component)?  For example, some studies suggest people sometimes choose mates who resemble themselves or their parents.  I'm asking: is it really morally wrong to feel more comfortable around people who look like oneself?  It seems like that would be sort of wired into the tribal part of the brain.  I can think of all manner of examples from literature, film & TV of the "fish out of water" character who goes looking for his own kind--people who look like he does.  It isn't portrayed as being wrong to do so. In fact, it's often portrayed as necessary for self-identification and growth.  Again, I say live and let live.  And it's one thing to expect the majority in this day and age to drop barriers and open up spaces for minority mobility.  But it seems odd to advocate more-or-less forced diversity onto a minority person or family, if that's not their desire.  Not everyone has the same agenda.

BettyC1
BettyC1

If anyone knows you do, missed opportunity for city.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Are scientific facts about race, like how blacks have cellular inflammation issues that no other race has, or how blacks are extremely more likely to posess the anti-social behavior causing 2-repeat and 3-repeat alleles than other races, or how black men and women have much higher testosterone levels than other races, or how blacks have on average a much smaller cranial capacity than other races, or how blacks don't have any Neanderthal DNA and all other races do, are any of those facts suitable topics for our so-called "honest discussion about race"?

Or are we just supposed to be like the fucking Christians and pretend that evolution is not real and that everyone was "created equal"?

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Blacks don't want a "conversation about race". They want a lecture/diatribe/sermon where whites just shut up and take it.

Don't believe me? Read any "social justice blog" on tumblr, or read "Code Switch" on NPR, or any of the daily white-guilt propaganda articles on Salon, Slate, Gawker, Jezebel, Huffington Post, Daily Kooks, etc etc erc.

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Well, if participation in this event were awarded based on sincerity, you would be right up there with those other folks, Mr. Schutze. An out of print book can only establish your credentials for a limited period of time, however. Kind of like an out of date play. I'm curious about one comment. When you say that the way for black people to escape their condition is by getting away from the culture of their old neighborhood, are you implying that there is something superior about the culture of the places where they should go?

RSFagain
RSFagain

I love people it when people who moved to Highland Park for the schools (or the whiteness?) discuss how they are really not racist.

GeorgeB123
GeorgeB123

A new copy now costs $227.76, a steep jump from the original price of $14.96

I little pricey I'd say. Jim I purchased your book when it can out. Is it safe to say your views have "evolved" some? 

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

It's classic Dallas. Let's put some flowers in the windows and hope nobody notices the rotten foundation.

ChristianY
ChristianY

Jim, I think I speak for many when I say you HAVE TO write a book about this. Not just for Dallas's sake but for the sake of the country. You have this unique understanding of race and education and how they intertwine. Please consider another book. I think history needs your voice and meanwhile your articles are great a book would be even better. 

bryanr01
bryanr01

Wait-- I paid too much for my copy of "The Accommodation?"  Damn it! 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Jim, the reason why you were not invited is that this convocation is about preaching the orthodox viewpoint to the faithful about the true race relations in the City of Dallas and the reasons for the poverty in "South Dallas".  You have been clearly identified has having presented apostasy concerning race relations in Dallas.  The orthodox race leaders do not want the faithful to be confused about race relations and especially by apostasic teachings.


Then again, could there be an upcoming announcement about JWP and the FBI investigation?  Could the South Dallas leaders be correcting history by talking about untruths and badspeak?


Great article as usual and a banquet for thought ...

animas
animas

Jim, you have benn 99% correct in your analysis of local politics and governmental machinations.  It seems that you might have irritated some in the process.

SkinInTheGame
SkinInTheGame

I was shocked not to see you on the panel in regards to media because, I agree with you on all points in regards to removing oneself out, is to get educated and do some family planning.

However, you better than anyone in this City understand we have millions upon millions of educated upward minorities in this country, who despite their education, still make less than their Anglo counterparts, if they get hired at all.

Until we have inclusion at the top in corporations, on boards, in university settings - in all departments, in the media, as feature writers and not special minority issues writers, the attitudes of the people described in the Forest Hills neighborhood, won't change.  It's hard to believe that there are no talented minorities, in any of those fields. 

When affluent people start working with people, at the top where they are, their influence will spread to the narrow minded people, where they live. One can only hope, anyway.

Look at the Mayors last two hires, this week. Two white guys, one of which is a former employee from the Observer.  If we really want to tell the world, we are a tolerant place to do business, I'd like for corporations and the Mayors office to lead by example.

chris
chris

Trying to deal with racism by having "conversations about race" is like trying to deal with sexism by having conversations about tits, big ones, small ones, jiggly ones, perky ones, flabby ones, bouncy ones, all the different ways tits compare among their owners and those not sporting them.

The only way to get beyond racism is to quit talking about race. Anything short of that and someone will be using race to get some sort of advantage based on it over someone else, just as often someone of the same race.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@AtoZ 

I think that you're taking his "move to Plano" line a bit too literally.

The point is that although white-bias institutional racism once held sway in our society, that is no longer the case and that the institutional racism that we are now seeing is just as likely to be harbored and nurtured by black culture, politics and society - That is not to say that the other sort of racism doesn't still happen or exist, just that in modern America, you have a choice not to submit to it.

In brief, nobody is holding you anywhere you don't choose to stay, anymore.

barronstalls
barronstalls

@AtoZ Your an idiot. If Dallas would have been integrated from the beginning by the people that run the City then, there would be no reason to flee South Dallas. It is what it is.........If City Leaders would have been following federal laws over the past decades, South Dallas would not be the prison it is................game over, time to make things right!!!! 

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

English, Betty. Can you write in it?

casiepierce
casiepierce

@yrlibsnaive I think the whole measuring the width of the forehead thing was long ago discredited as a scientific "fact".

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Meds work, man

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Maybe culture's a bad word choice. I'm having a hard time thinking of a really great culture anywhere right now. But what about values? Some values do seem to enable people to do a better job of taking care of their kids, staying out of prison and not having to spend large sums on rehab all the time. After that, I don't care what their culture is.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@PerryMoore Of course he is.  The proof is in the pudding.  Change the culture, and people thrive.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Why do you give a shit? If they are so racist and evil, then why do you want to be around them so bad? Why do you keep following them around? Why do you want to hang out somewhere that you aren't wanted?

doublecheese
doublecheese

@RSFagain I love it when people leave their kids in horrible, failing schools so they can prove to the world that they aren't racist.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@GeorgeB123 

It happens to all of us when we become billionaires. 

barronstalls
barronstalls

@Cliffhanger Yep, its all just window dressing to hide what they have created. Or, to give the appearance of caring................

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Oh horse shit Jim absolutely does not have a unique or worthwhile perspective on race relations. He has his white guilt religion that has been tainted by a tiny tiny bit of common sense.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@animas 

I'm very upset about this one percent wrong accusation.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@SkinInTheGame 

Sometimes I think the people at the very top (on the every few occasions when I meet them) are the most amazingly hick out-of-it backwards people in the whole society, maybe because they live in such social isolation. But, yeah, you're absolutely right, that has to change. My solution for that is funerals. But we should all remember: it's against the law to try to hurry that particular process (the funerals)  along. 

animas
animas

That is just total BS.  Inclusion to you means getting ahead without earning it.  "When affulent people START working with people?"  Get real.

roundelay78
roundelay78

@chris  

 NOT talking about race and just ignoring has NEVER, ever made it go away==easy for white folks to say,since they almost NEVER have to deal with it. People shouldn't quit talking about race simply because YOU don't feel like being bothered with it. You think racism is just going to disappear just because YOU wish it would? That is SO unrealistic---do some research on American history and check it out,please.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Wrong. What hallened was that Stephen Jay Gould was proved to be a fabricator of scientific data. Look it up.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Oh lookie look, yet another herp-derp libtard non-sequitur response from Jim, since he can't actually respond to (or argue against) the actual scientific facts. I didn't expect anything less.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@JimSX Observing minority majority Asian communities, it appears that the difference in the black communities is the desire within the black community to keep the entire neighborhood down.  That is, if one person in a black community begins to succeed, they are pulled/beaten down by the rest of the community.   In school, if black students get good grades, they are called Oreo.  Look at how they treat their neighbors compared to in the Asian, or even latino, communities.


Absent the communal desire for success, I think that you are spot on with your conclusion that the best thing they can do is to get out of the neighborhood and join other communities.

yrlibsnaive
yrlibsnaive

Do you have faith that violent crime in Dallas/The USA will DECREASE as the black and Latino populations increase and the white population falls?

Tell me more about your naive faith-based religious worldview.

What other fairy tales do you believe?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@yrlibsnaive 

Those same questions could be directed right back at you.

You don't like the way things are going? Why don't you kill yourself and get the sweet relief you so dearly crave?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Out, out, damned spot!

bmarvel
bmarvel

@JimSX @animas "I'm very upset about this one percent wrong accusation."

I think I can identify that: Anything about the Nasher, museums or art generally.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JimSX @SkinInTheGame 

I hope that you are correct in your view that attrition will take care of what common sense cannot seem to extinguish.

But given our collective history and current trends, I wouldn't say that I'm optimistic.

SkinInTheGame
SkinInTheGame

@animas

Inclusion to me means, getting hired because you are the best one for the job, or you get to keep your job or get promoted because you made so much money for the people you worked for, despite your skin color.

Do you really believe that there isn't a single minority who earned their college degree, who is an expert in their chosen field of work, who is a good manager, has great people skills, or communicates well?  Your statement implies that you don't think minorities earn anything.

If a Black or Hispanic professional with great credentials, experience and an education "friends" you on LinkedIn and your first thought, is, "oh brother...what can you do for me dude" and you don't friend them, how will they ever get a chance to "earn it" or do business with someone, who doesn't look like them?

I asked a friend, who is black, why she didn't put her photo up on Linkedin and she said she was applying for a new position, at another company and she didn't want them to see that she was black, because she wanted the interview. She is brilliant and well spoken and if she got an interview, they would absolutely love her. It was a little shocking to hear her say that, but maybe it's me who is naïve.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@yrlibsnaive 

How about the white guys have smaller dicks, thing.

Wanna talk about that?

gritsforbreakfast1
gritsforbreakfast1

@yrlibsnaive Over the last twenty years, violent crime in Dallas and the USA has fallen as the black and Latino populations increased and the white population fell. Ain't reality a bitch?

bmarvel
bmarvel

@JimSX Do you mean you're 60 percent wrong about the Nasher 100 percent of the time or 100 percent wrong 60 percent of the time? 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

That would be sixty percent.

Maddshillz
Maddshillz

@yrlibsnaive Hello, worst-troll-ever.  Notice how everyone has just started ignoring your posts, or responding with non-sequiturs? Are you getting hungry? This is due to the fact that you have used the same arguments and same 'trolling' techniques for years under various monikers.  It's a pretty terrible schtick, and you fail at trolling.  It's old, you are clearly lacking certain cognitive functions, and your mother is a hamster.

animas
animas

If you are serious about "getting hired because you are the BEST for the job", you simply PROVE that you are the best for the job.  (The way you look and your backround has nothing to do with it).

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