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Category: Social Issues

Poverty Isn’t a “Black” Issue

Poverty Isn’t a “Black” Issue

Note: This post was originally published on my author blog on 15 January 2016.

I recently stumbled across an article on Gateway Pundit titled, “Tavis Smiley: On Every Leading Economic Issue Black Americans Have Lost Ground Under Obama.” In it, the author, citing sources without linking to them, states that, for various recent time periods:

  • Minority household income has fallen by nine to ten percent.
  • Non-white families’ net worth has fallen by around 20% while white families’ net worth has risen slightly.
  • White households were thirteen times wealthier than black households.
  • The black unemployment rate in 2014 was 10.1% while black labor force participation had dropped.

Whether the author was cherry-picking data or not really has no bearing here. Poverty has always been a larger problem in non-white households. What most people completely miss is that the poverty rate of minorities isn’t a “black” issue or an “Hispanic” issue: It’s an everybody issue.

Over the past seven years, President Obama has continued the progressive liberal tradition of fomenting race and class wars. He has, as many other minority leaders have, encouraged minorities to think of themselves as something other than part of the whole.

It’s well past time that attitude was discouraged.

The United States has always been called a melting pot, and for a very good reason. Every culture that immigrates here leaves its mark, even as it assimilates into the American culture, a continually morphing entity. African slaves, for example, contributed a wealth of foods, music, and beliefs to the South. Where would we be today without Negro spirituals? A helluva lot poorer.

We live in a time of abundance, of equal opportunity, of the free distribution of knowledge and information to anyone with access to a computer. In the US, that’s everyone. Even the small percentage of people who don’t own a computer have either a cell phone or ready access to a free technology center, like a local library. We as a nation contribute billions of dollars in foreign aid, in part to help poverty stricken nations, and yet, we still struggle with poverty here at home.

It’s a baffling situation, but it isn’t one restricted to those hit hardest. Poverty is a societal problem best solved on the grass roots level, in communities. But when I say that, I don’t mean that it’s a problem for the “black” community to solve. I mean it’s a problem for the physical community to solve. I mean it’s a problem for every member of that community, black, white, red, yellow, or pink polka dotted with purple stripes.

Poverty harms every member of society, regardless of how much “wealth” we do or do not possess. It scars us all. I don’t have the solution (God knows, I wish I did), but one thing is certain: We will never fix poverty if we don’t stop confining the solution to one race or another, and instead work together, like the one community we are.

Random (Holiday) Acts of Generosity

Random (Holiday) Acts of Generosity

Note: This post was originally published on my author blog on 16 December 2015.

I was having a little trouble coming up with a topic for today’s post. I kept thinking, what in my life is going on that people could possibly be interested in? All I got was a big fat empty in my brain, which is saying something, as it’s usually chock full of ideas.

During a break from writing (The Vampire’s Favorite), I dropped by Facebook and found this heart-touching video shared by the Fairview, Tennessee, Police Department.

Now, wherever I turn these days, it seems folks are denigrating the South and Southerners. We’re racist. We’re backwoods hicks. We’re knee-jerk reactionaries with too many guns and not enough good sense.

Frankly, I get a little tired of those attitudes. I’ve met people from all around the world and trust me, Southerners are by far the best folks I’ve ever met, and certainly among the most kind and generous.

The proof is in this video. The Cross Point Community Church has what they call a Dollar Club. Every month, every single member is asked to give one dollar, just one. The collected money is normally used for a Random Act of Generosity bestowed on one family or individual out in the community.

This month, the church decided to commit RAoGs on a whole host of random strangers, and roped local businesses and the local police department into helping. They surprised Christmas tree shoppers, bought groceries and gas, hunted down requested toys for children and grandchildren, and made one woman’s Christmas with a very special gift. Don’t take my word for it. Watch the video. Only the hardest heart will walk away without shedding a tear or two.

The RAoGs don’t have to stop there. Why not spread your own brand of kindness around this holiday season? There are a ton of things anyone can do to brighten someone else’s day without spending a single dime. How often do you walk out of a grocery store behind a parent struggling to get both children and groceries safely into the car? Or into a restaurant behind an elderly couple who might appreciate having the door held open so they don’t have to hurry in? Taking a few moments to lend a helping hand costs nothing save a little time, and isn’t that worth giving up in exchange for lending help where it’s needed?

And while we’re at it, why not make this kindness part of our every day lives and carry the habit into the new year? Even a simple smile and “Hello, how are ya?” can go a long way toward making the world a better place for the giver and the receiver.

So smile, be merry, and above all, share a little kindness with the people around you during this, the season of good will.

Reasoned Arguments against Gun Control

Reasoned Arguments against Gun Control

Note: This post was originally published on my author blog on 11 December 2015.

In light of recent shootings, many are calling for tighter gun control laws, ignoring the basic fact that laws already in place did nothing to stop those shootings in the first place. It is therefore irrational to think more legislation will solve the problem. As Jacob Sullum wrote in a recent post for Reason, “Autonomous Terrorism Calls for Autonomous Defense,”

“The perpetrators of last week’s attack in San Bernardino did not have criminal or psychiatric records that would have legally disqualified them from buying guns. In fact, one of them passed background checks when he bought pistols from California gun dealers. Obama’s recommendation of “universal background checks” in response to the San Bernardino massacre is therefore a non sequitur.”

Sullum goes on to note that other restrictions, including banning rifles and restricting firearm sales to those on “no fly” lists, are equally unreasonable.

A reasoned approach is not, however, favored by proponents of gun control legislation, in spite of ample evidence that it simply does not work and, in fact, that jurisdictions enacting strict gun control or gun-free zones are the hardest hit by gun-related violence, in spite of some organizations’ statistically flawed claims to the contrary.

The issue few people are addressing is this: Life is violent. There’s no getting around it. The universe is a violent place, and humans in particular are a violent species. We’ve had to be in order to survive. As someone noted in a recent discussion, that violence will continue regardless of what weapons are available. Confiscate guns and people will use blades. Confiscate blades and people will use sticks. Confiscate sticks and people will use their hands.

Guns have nothing to do with humanity’s innate violence, but they can be (and often are) used safely to defend users against the very violence gun control advocates despise, at a rate of more than one hundred times greater than the use of firearms in violent crimes. Even the Center for Disease Control acknowledges that “self-defense can be an important crime deterrent.”

I would argue that self-defense is the best crime deterrent, but that’s a post for another time.

For more on why gun control is an ineffective method of combating crime and violence, see “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control” by David B. Kopel, published by The Cato Institute.

Black Friday Is a Product of Freedom

Black Friday Is a Product of Freedom

Note: This post was originally published on my author blog on 26 November 2015.

Today is one of the most revered or reviled days in shopping history, depending on one’s point of view. Bargain hunters awake early on this Friday after Thanksgiving to crowd stores, searching for holiday gifts at special prices, while the not-so-savvy sleep in and do their holiday shopping online.

It’s easy to let Black Friday’s overt consumerism reflect negatively on Western society, capitalism, and the free market system (or a mostly free market system, as we have in the US). It’s also easy to forget one simple truth: Without the individual freedoms recognized and protected by our Constitution, this official start to the holiday shopping season would not exist.

Economic Freedom and the Freedom of Choice

I have many, many good friends who lean toward a Socialist viewpoint. Some overtly tout Communism as the ultimate solution to the economic problems facing the poor.

Forget it. Communism doesn’t work. If it did, the Cold War would never have ended. Soviet citizens would’ve had the privilege of buying basic necessities whenever they wanted, including toilet paper, which was always in short supply. And North Korea wouldn’t have had to lower the height standards for military enlistees due to the government’s inability to adequately feed its residents. Can you even imagine a Black Friday shopping spree in a country trapped in a state of neglect and famine by its own government?

In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we still have proponents of the Communist system, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who insists that consumers don’t need multiple choices of consumer goods. One brand of pen will do very well, by his rational, and black is the only color we need, right?

I guess Mr. Sanders has never met an author who color-codes her organizer according to priorities, tasks to do, and tasks completed, among other things. I guess he has no sympathy for the values of individual freedom and choice, but others do, and it is among those that I will award my own vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Black Friday and Freedom

But I digress. The reason capitalism survives is because it works, and it works because it’s a largely voluntary arrangement between producers, suppliers, distributors, and consumers, based on the simple principle of supply and demand. Ideally, no one is forced into participation. New companies arise as consumer demand increases or new technologies and products are developed. And consumers have ample choices to meet their specific, individual needs. All of this takes place thanks to the relatively large economic freedoms we enjoy.

In the US, we are fortunate that our ancestors fought so hard to secure these freedoms for us and put them in writing, a guarantee we should never take for granted and should always diligently protect and defend. While Black Friday may be anathema to some (particularly those who dislike mornings and crowds), it’s not wholly without redeeming graces.

If nothing else, it’s a stark reminder of the legally protected and naturally inherent ideals on which this country was founded: That an individual has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, whatever form that may take, even if it includes choosing to stand in line to get that early bird special the day after giving thanks for blessings already held.

A Random Act of Kindness

A Random Act of Kindness

Note: This post was originally published on my author blog on 20 November 2015.


This photo, captured at a MARTA station in Atlanta by Redd Desmond Thomas, recently went viral. The photographer overheard the woman in the red coat ask her husband to help this earnestly dressed young man with his tie. The husband, likely used to his wife telling him what to do, patiently bent and showed the young man how to tie a tie.

This random act of kindness went viral, and I’m not sure exactly what that says about modern, Western society, or even the whys. Was it because kindness is so rare in the US? Or maybe because we’re so inundated with horrifying news on a daily basis, this simple act was a welcome antidote?

Or was it because the elderly couple was white and the young man black, and the act took place in the South, a veritable bastion of racism according to any and all?

Although I’ve lived in the South my entire life and journeyed outside its hallowed grounds only rarely, I’ve had the misfortune to run across many a nasty body originating from other parts of the US. Let me tell you, people. Southerners are by far the kindest humans I’ve ever met. We’re neighborly. We value family, friends, and community. Believe it or not, we don’t generally care what race, creed, nationality, or sex other people are. They get a smile in line at the grocery store the same as people we know.

That’s right, folks. We’re not nearly as racist or whatever-ist as outsiders portray us to be. Individually? Sometimes, yes. As a whole? Nunh-unh.

But this picture isn’t evidence of that. It’s not evidence of anything, not even this one simple truth: Kindness is an intrinsic aspect of human nature, the same as violence, xenophobia, and tribalism. It’s an instinct drummed out of many of us at an early age, but it’s still there, alive and kicking if we listen really hard.

When I look at that picture, I don’t see a white man helping a black man. I see a young man struggling to make his way in the world, benefiting from the experience of an elderly stranger. Kindness isn’t rare. It’s all around us, hidden in the common courtesies of opening a door for someone, saying “please” and “thank you,” giving a father carrying a crying infant your place in line, or buying a slice of pizza for the teenager who’s a dollar short.

These kindnesses shouldn’t be celebrated. They should be repaid with a smile for the next person who needs it. Kindness costs nothing, y’all, but it gives joy wherever it goes. That’s a simple truth we should all do our best to foster.